The Associated Press
The race for the Democratic nomination for New Mexico governor is still anyone’s to win despite a slight edge by Attorney General Gary King, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll that came out Sunday.
The newspaper reports more than a quarter of Democratic voters are still undecided, even with the primary election a week away.
Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said there is no clear winner.
“The race is not over by any means,” Sanderoff said. “You’ve got lesser-known candidates who are trying to close the gap.”
Of the five candidates, the poll found King had a 6 point lead or 22 percent of the votes. However, former government agency administrator Lawrence Rael and Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber weren’t far behind with 16 percent each. State Sens. Howie Morales and Linda Lopez earned 12 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Research & Polling Inc. conducted the poll through a statewide telephone survey earlier this month of 631 registered Democrats who said they’ll likely vote June 3. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
The winner will face Gov. Susana Martinez in the November general election. Martinez has no opponent in the GOP primary.
The Democratic candidates have avoided attacking each other so far in the campaign and instead have focused their criticisms on Martinez.
King entered the race with the best name recognition as a two-term statewide elected officeholder. He’s also a former legislator and the son of New Mexico’s longest serving governor, the late Bruce King. According to the poll, King has garnered widespread support geographically and plays well with male voters. He has more support than the other four candidates among white and Hispanic voters.
Hispanic voters appear split with 23 percent saying they’d vote for King. However, Rael and Morales were trailing with 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Webber had 9 percent and Lopez only 4 percent.
Webber, who is making his first bid for elective office in New Mexico and co-founded the business magazine Fast Company which sold for more than $300 million, looks to have a slight advantage with white voters. The poll shows Webber with 24 percent and King with 20 percent.
Webber and Rael have aired television ads since early May to help make voters more familiar with them. King launched his first TV ad Friday.
Lopez has served in the state Senate since 1997, and Morales has been a senator since 2008. They haven’t aired any TV ads so far. Undecided voters who aren’t relying simply on King’s name recognition could give hope to his competitors.
“There are a lot of proven voters that haven’t made up their mind,” Sanderoff said.
There is also a chance that voters will ultimately decide to not cast a ballot at all, he added.
Webber has been the leading Democratic fundraiser in large part because he provided his campaign with $450,000 in personal loans and contributions
Rael is a former state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. He retired in 2009 after eight years as head of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, a regional planning agency that oversees the Rail Runner Express commuter rail service running between Belen and Santa Fe.