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Last night I happened to have dinner with Jeff Steinborn, who just stepped down as the chair of my county's Democratic Party to run for the state legislature. I asked him about the man who was running for Congress in our district (NM-2), trying to defeat Steve Pearce. Pearce, as anyone who follows Congressional doings must know, is one of the most useless individuals to ever step through the doors of the Capitol. He's pro-war, anti-environment . . . and he never consults his constituency on anything.

The Democrat running against Pearce in NM-2 is Al Kissling, a 70-year-old retired Presbyterian minister. Kissling has neither money nor name recognition, although he stands strong on all of the Democratic issues. So I asked Steinborn: How did Kissling get chosen to be our candidate? Why is it that no one was being groomed to run against Steve Pearce?

As it turns out, our district has been written off by the national Democratic party.

Steinborn told me that the national Democratic party approached him a year ago, to ask him whether he was interested in running for Congress again against Steve Pearce. Two years ago, Steinborn faced off against longtime NM pol Gary King, son of the well-liked former governor Bruce King. Steinborn lost the primary race, and King lost the race against Pearce. Steinborn wasn't interested in running again, and the National Democrats made no other attempts to find an experienced Democrat interested in running--preferring to concentrate, I suppose, on Patricia Madrid's race against Heather Wilson up North.

When Kissling volunteered at the last minute, they were pleased to have a name on the ballot at least, but due to the fact that Pearce often wins by 10 or 15 percent--and his forerunner, Joe Skeen, by the same amount--the national Democrats decided not to invest any funds in the race. So here's a guy with no money of his own, and no national support. Is it any wonder that it was hard to find a candidate?

How can the Democratic party just afford to write off these Congressional seats? It's not as though New Mexico is a firmly red state--it isn't. We've got Bill Richardson in the gubernatorial mansion at the moment. With the right cultivation of candidates, with registration of Hispanic voters, this could be a blue state, in fact. But the only time we ever see any national figures is during the Presidential races, to try to get our electoral votes. That means that in between, we are hung out to dry.

Does anyone have any insight into what's happening with these kinds of races?

Originally posted to ChuyHChrist on Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 07:07 AM PDT.

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