Richardson, Sanchez to Race for Gov.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Democrat Bill Richardson and Republican John Sanchez won their parties’ gubernatorial nominations Tuesday, meaning the state will elect its first Hispanic governor since 1982 this fall.
Sanchez, a freshman state lawmaker considered a rising star in the Republican Party, won 57 percent of the vote to defeat two-term Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley and two other candidates.
The 39-year-old Sanchez will face a well-funded veteran politician with a long resume: Richardson, 54, is a former congressman, Clinton administration official and United Nations ambassador. He faced only a write-in candidate Tuesday.
``You know what? Dream big,″ Sanchez said.
There is no incumbent in the race. Republican Gov. Gary Johnson was barred from seeking re-election because he has served two consecutive terms.
Richardson said he expected a bruising and expensive general election race, but he appealed to Republicans to wage a campaign free of the negative attacks that marked the GOP primary.
``I am going to keep my campaign positive, but if I am relentlessly attacked I am going to respond. I think New Mexico voters want a clean campaign,″ Richardson said in an interview.
All the same, the state GOP on Wednesday planned to unveil its first television advertisement aimed at Richardson and his tenure as energy secretary during President Clinton’s administration.
His campaign is likely to spend more than $5 million, which would far exceed what either the GOP or Democratic nominees spent four years ago and would make it the most costly campaign waged by a candidate for governor in New Mexico.
Richardson’s campaign blitzed television and radio airwaves in April and May with more than $700,000 in advertising to define his political image and message before Republicans had a chance to launch attacks in the general election.
Sanchez’s campaign borrowed from the political outsider theme Johnson successfully used in winning two terms. Sanchez ads proclaimed that he ``shook things up″ and has the ``courage to stand up to the political bosses.″
``The people of New Mexico are ready for change. Two years ago we started it,″ Sanchez said in an interview.
Sanchez also emphasized his upbringing in a poor family and how he became a successful businessman after graduating from high school. Sanchez was the leading GOP fund-raiser and used that advantage to buy more _ and earlier _ TV and radio ad time than his opponents.
The last Hispanic elected governor in New Mexico was Democrat Toney Anaya, in 1982.