Scrutinizing candidates’ pasts is important
Policy issues are critical, and NMPolitics.net will keep devoting resources to telling you about candidates’ positions. But it’s also important to scrutinize issues like Eric Griego’s arrest warrants and Marty Chávez’s relationship with a woman under indictment.
Democratic 1st Congressional District candidate Eric Griego’s campaign manager recently told NMPolitics.net that Griego’s past traffic problems – which include a drunken driving conviction and a number of arrest warrants for failing to appear in court – aren’t important.
“Thousands of New Mexicans are looking for jobs and worried about who’s going to fight to protect their Social Security and Medicare, and our opponents’ biggest concern is 10-year-old traffic tickets,” Yoon said. “This is what’s wrong with Washington, and why New Mexicans are rallying behind Eric Griego, because he is the one Democrat in this race who would rather talk about the issues that are important to the voters.”
That sounds pretty similar to what Griego opponent Marty Chávez’s campaign manager, Alan Packman, told NMPolitics.net in March in response to questions about his relationship with a woman who is under indictment:
“Marty believes that candidates should be focused on all of the pressing issues facing New Mexican families right now – like rebuilding our economy – and not concerning themselves with making negative, personal attacks,” he said.
I’ve got news for all candidates: Your backgrounds are important. How you handle difficult situations speaks to the type of leader you are. Character matters.
That’s why I spent so much time working on articles on the U.S. Senate candidate’s backgrounds. I hope those articles help New Mexicans understand who the candidates are and how they became those people. I wish I had found time before the primary to put the same level of work into telling the 1st District candidates’ stories.
The fact that backgrounds matter is why NMPolitics.net looked into 1st District Democratic candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham’s past as state health secretary and how she dealt with problems at Ft. Bayard Medical Center. And it’s why Griego’s traffic problems and Chávez’s relationship are relevant.
Issues that needed exploring
I don’t consider one DWI newsworthy, unless there’s something highly unusual about it. Neither are a handful of traffic tickets. What’s interesting in Griego’s case is the pattern of problems that includes his repeated failure to deal with simple traffic citations before judges issued warrants for his arrest.
Griego disclosed the issues in a 2005 Albuquerque Journal questionnaire, saying, “due to family issues, including my mother’s death, I missed traffic school for speeding tickets.” Fine. But it happened again after that. Why? These are fair issues to explore, especially for someone who writes and votes on laws in Santa Fe and wants to go do the same thing in Washington.
Chávez may be nothing more than a victim of circumstance, but his relationship with a woman under indictment in a massive hospital-fraud case still required scrutiny. Among the obvious questions were whether Chávez has been implicated in the alleged crimes in any way (he has not), whether he knew anything about the situation (he says he did not), and whether he might have profited from her alleged embezzlement, through campaign contributions, living expenses or otherwise.
Loretta Mares has donated $5,000 to Chávez’s campaign. Given that she’s alleged to have embezzled a great deal of money, the question about whether Chávez planned to keep the money was a fair one to ask. His campaign manager told NMPolitics.net he’ll donate it to charity if she’s convicted.
Policy issues aren’t all that’s important
NMPolitics.net has scrutinized these issues not because I or we are trying to sway your vote to or away from a particular candidate, but because our role is to help you make informed decisions. Those decisions are your own.
Two people honestly trying to find their candidate could learn about Griego’s past traffic problems, for example, and be divided on whether to vote for him, with one saying he would be the best champion for the people in spite of those issues and the other opting for another candidate because he’s concerned that Griego didn’t deal with his citations until judges issued warrants to force him to do so.
That’s democracy. We all decide who to vote for based on our own prioritizing of what’s important.
Policy issues are critical. It’s why NMPolitics.net has devoted resources to asking some of the most specific, detailed questions of these candidates that any journalist has posed throughout the campaign.
But policy issues aren’t all that’s important. NMPolitics.net will keep working to give you a more complete understanding of the candidates in the future.
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