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NM: Scrapping for Delegates

By Ann Scott Tyson
New Mexico's vote on Tuesday will be only for Democrats. The Republican primary will be held in June.

State Democratic Party officials say the race is wide open since Gov. Bill Richardson dropped out, and no polls currently exist to indicate which Democrats are leading in New Mexico.

Over the last four days, Democratic front-runners Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have both visited the state, along with a flurry of "surrogates" including former president Bill Clinton and Sen. Edward Kennedy, who endorsed Obama. "That's a lot of attention for 26 delegates," said Brian Colon, Chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. "They are scrapping for every single delegate, it is just that close," he said.

Colon believes that the New Mexico, which has voted for the winner in all but two of the last fourteen presidential contests, will prove a bellwether along with other Western states.

Earlier Colon had predicted low turnout, but the competitiveness of the Democratic candidacy has heated up and requests for mail-in ballots have risen five fold, he said. The number one issue in the state is health care, a topic now under debate in the state legislature. After that, he said, the most pressing topic for Democrats is the war in
Iraq, as New Mexico is home to several military bases.

Heavy snowfall in northern New Mexico could dampen turnout there, officials say. Polls in the state will be open from noon to 7:00 pm.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 10:27 PM ET
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