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Editor's Note - The primary finales

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By Tom McDonald

Why, you may have asked on Friday, did the Optic editorial board feel compelled to endorse senatorial candidates in both party races, rather than just one candidate over all the others?

I’ll tell ya, in a round-about way.

I’m referring to our editorial endorsements of Democrat Hector Balderas and Republican Heather Wilson, who are running for their party nominations to be New Mexico’s next U.S. senator, replacing Jeff Bingaman, who opted not to run for a sixth term.

So why endorse in both party races? I can think of several reasons — not the least of which is that it’s way too early to endorse a single candidate for the general election — but for me, it’s not unlike the reason I’m glad to see Mitt Romney win the Republican nomination for president — I don’t want any nut cases to come anywhere close to actually winning the presidency.

Even though I’m not so impressed with Romney, I’m at least glad he’s a more moderate Republican. In the field of GOP presidential wannabes this year, he may have tried to disguise himself as a true-blue conservative, but his record as Massachusetts governor says otherwise. Except for Jon Huntsman (who, unfortunately, never really had a chance of winning the GOP nomination), Romney was as close to the center as any Republican nominee could have come this year.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s way too partisan to root for some wing-nut on one side of the party lines so your favored candidate on the other side has a better chance at winning in the general election. I would have been a very nervous American if an egomaniac like Newt Gingrich or Donald Trump, or a fanatic like Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann, were to win the GOP nod, placing them just one election away from the presidency.

That’s essentially the same reason why I think a double endorsement for the U.S. Senate seat was in order. The citizenry is better “protected” by having two qualified and capable candidates running against each other in the general election.

I don’t know Balderas well, but I’ve always been impressed with his actions as a lawmaker and as the state auditor. He’s smart and he’s got guts, and I think he’d make an excellent U.S. senator. But, if he wins the Democratic nomination (which I’m afraid he won’t; Martin Heinrich is in a far better position to win it), Balderas would still have to face the Republican nominee.

Let’s hope the GOP produces its own best candidate.

And therein lies our second endorsement — for Wilson, another impressive candidate in her own right.

• • •

As the 2012 preferential primaries draw to a close, a big question now is turnout. I have no idea how it will be statewide, but I suspect it will be pretty good here in San Miguel County.

If nothing else, I think the Campos-Garcia and Vigil-Salazar races will draw some crowds, as will the big-familied, candidates-packed county treasurer’s race.

• • •

Regardless of what you think about the election, it’s impossible to ignore the campaign signs, and almost impossible to ignore the door-to-door campaigners. You simply can’t avoid them unless you drive around with blinders on and never go home.

I’ve always wondered how effective yard signs are. My guess is, not very, at least in winning voters over, but perhaps they’re necessary to keep your name out there. I suppose name recognition is important even in small towns where “everybody knows everybody” already, but I doubt it means as much as what some people might think.

However, personal contact undoubtedly goes a long way. A voter is much more inclined to support someone they’ve had contact with than someone whose name they only know.

I remember a story a politician once told a crowd I was in. He said he ran across a longtime friend who told him that, in the previous election, he didn’t vote for him. The politician was surprised to hear that, and thought about all the things he might have done that would have turned his friend away from him. “Why didn’t you vote for me?” he finally asked him.

“You didn’t ask me to,” the former supporter simply replied.

The politician then asked all who were gathered for their votes, including mine.

His point was obvious: Never take anyone’s vote for granted.

Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or tmcdonald@lasvegasoptic.com.