Democratic Party to hold caucuses

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By David Giuliani

The March 4 municipal election is grabbing most of the local political attention.

But there’s a contest before that — the Democratic presidential caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

This is a chance for Democrats to decide on the four main candidates — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich. Even dropped-out candidates’ names will still be on the ballot such as Gov. Bill Richardson and Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden

All other Republican and Democratic races will be decided in the June 3 primaries. The caucus is being organized and paid for by the New Mexico Democratic Party, with the state government having no role.

Four years ago, with Gov. Bill Richardson’s backing, the state Democratic Party decided to hold caucuses in an attempt to get more attention from the Democratic presidential candidates. It worked; many of the candidates paid visits to New Mexico, with stops in Las Vegas.

This time around, the state has received little attention from the candidates because they figured that Richardson, a presidential candidate until last week, would dominate on his home turf.

Since his exit, some of the presidential candidates are quickly building up their organizations in the state.

“The earlier date does encourage presidential candidates to pay more attention to New Mexico voters,” said Angela Chavez, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party.

Polls will be open from noon to 7 p.m. The polls are at the city’s recreation center, the County Courthouse, Sapello Elementary School, San Miguel Senior Citizens Center and the Pecos Senior Citizens Center. Where people vote depends on their precincts.

Requests for absentee ballots must be submitted by 5 p.m. Monday to the state Democratic Party. The ballots themselves must be postmarked no later than Jan. 28. The party is accepting ballot requests over the phone at (505) 830-3650.