Heather Wilson and Janice Arnold-Jones won’t have free rides, if the secretary of state certifies that Greg Sowards and Gary Smith filed enough signatures to stay in the GOP primary races.
Two self-funded Republican candidates for federal offices who failed to qualify for the primary ballot at the recent preprimary nominating convention say they’ve filed the necessary signatures to stay in their races.
Greg Sowards is continuing his criticism of Heather Wilson as an “establishment” candidate in the U.S. Senate race. In the 1st Congressional District race, Gary Smith is taking a similar tone in his attempt to defeat Janice Arnold-Jones.
Sowards said he needed about 700 additional signatures to stay in the race and turned in 1,800 before Wednesday’s filing deadline. He said people were “quite anxious” to help.
“People are pointing the blame for the mess we are in right where it belongs, with the career politicians who vote with an eye to the next election instead of the long-range direction of the country,” Sowards said. “They are looking for someone different, someone who hasn’t bought into the establishment’s lame political goals and excuses.”
Meanwhile, Smith said he has “never pretended to be a party insider.”
“I haven’t met one person in the district who believes a career politician can fix the problems that career politicians created in Washington,” he said. “They want a candidate who grew up here, understands the issues and knows how to apply true conservative solutions to the problems facing New Mexico and the country as a whole.”
The secretary of state must still verify that both submitted enough valid signatures to stay in the races.
Both candidates fell short at the recent preprimary convention of the 20 percent needed to qualify that way for the ballot. Sowards won 17 percent to Wilson’s 83 percent; Smith won 4 percent to Arnold-Jones’ 63 percent and Dan Lewis’ 34 percent. Lewis later quit the race.
Those who stay in the race after failing to qualify for the ballot at the preprimary have an awful track record in primary races, so it’s fair, based on history, to say Sowards and Smith have almost no shot at winning the primary.
But “almost no shot” isn’t the same as “no shot.” Both were almost entirely self-funded as of the last reporting date and have money to spend. Smith has pumped $125,000 into his campaign, according to his most recent finance report. Sowards has loaned somewhere around $600,000 to his campaign, but his recent finance reports aren’t online and he hasn’t released them.
On the attack
Sowards has already been hitting Wilson hard. It’s a strategy he implemented a couple of weeks before the preprimary. Smith appears ready to do the same in his long-shot campaign against Arnold-Jones. He challenged her on Wednesday to eight debates.
“Janice likes to call herself Lady Sunlight. I believe it’s time to shed some sunlight on her liberal record of voting for taxes increases and huge budgets, voting against the death penalty, and for being multiple choice on issues like abortion,” Smith said.
“There is a clear choice in this primary between Janice’s liberal record and my true conservative values,” he said. “I am the only candidate in this primary who can contrast the liberal progressive agenda of (Democratic CD1 frontrunner) Eric Griego and President Barack Obama with a conservative plan to get America back on the right track.”
Arnold-Jones hasn’t yet publicly responded to the debate challenge.