New Mexico governor hopefuls play tug-of-war with political endorsement

September 25, 2018

A Soccoro County farmer’s endorsement is the latest battleground in the New Mexico gubernatorial contest.

Both Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce have claimed to have the formal support of Socorro County Commissioner Glen Duggins, a Republican who farms chile and alfalfa in Lemitar.

Lujan Grisham, the Democratic congresswoman from Albuquerque, listed Duggins as among 100 Republicans in the state to endorse her bid last week.

Pearce, the Republican congressman from Hobbs, countered Monday with an emailed statement from Duggins, who said Lujan Grisham “chose to mislead voters” by including his name on her list.

“New Mexico voters deserve honesty from their governor, not somebody who makes up fake endorsements,” Pearce’s campaign manager, Paul Smith, said in a statement.

The tug-of-war over Duggins’ endorsement underscores the intensifying discord of the race to succeed Gov. Susana Martinez, with Pearce’s campaign pumping out new attack ads over the weekend in an effort to trim Lujan Grisham’s lead in the polls — including one that takes aim at a Santa Fe cancer patient and attorney who had praised Lujan Grisham.

The Lujan Grisham campaign said Duggins had endorsed her earlier this year at the wedding of state Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, even offering to host a public event on Lujan Grisham’s behalf at Duggins’ ranch.

Lente said Monday he could only confirm both Duggins and Lujan Grisham had attended his wedding.

“As to the conversation they might’ve had between each other, I wasn’t part of that,” Lente said. “As to any endorsement, I can’t validate or invalidate that.”

On Monday afternoon, at least, Duggins appeared to be firmly in Pearce’s camp.

“I’d like to clear something up: I fully support Steve Pearce for governor,” Duggins wrote in his statement distributed by the Pearce campaign.

He did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Update hourly