News & Election Videos

October 07, 2008

When politics get personal

One bet that’s safe to make on Election Day: New Mexico’s First District will come down to the wire, regardless of the national environment. The seat’s current officeholder, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), never won more than 55 percent of the vote in her five terms in office.

With Wilson not running for reelection this year, the race is between two first-time congressional candidates: Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich (D) and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (R).

An Albuquerque Journal poll released today shows the Democrat, Albuquerque city councilor Martin Heinrich narrowly leading Republican Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, 43 percent to 41 percent — within the margin of error.

But it’s the unusually personal ad wars that have gotten the most attention. Heinrich recently aired an ad that accused White of endangering police officers’ lives and for misspending thousands of dollars in drug enforcement money as state Secretary of Public Safety.

“If New Mexico police can’t trust him, how can we?” the ad concludes.

The ad also calls White “George Bush’s favorite sheriff,” as he served as Bernalillo County’s chairman for the president’s reelection in 2004.

White responded with an emotional, hard-hitting ad featuring the couple who lost their son, a deputy police officer, in the line of duty. The ad features an image of White at James McGrane’s funeral.

“I know Darren White; he loves his officers, and his officers love him,” said James McGrane’s father in the ad. “Martin Heinrich, you should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t have a clue of what these officers have to do.”