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An election campaign without human contact


How do candidates running for office for the first time introduce themselves to the public at a time when public introductions can be deadly?

That is the dilemma faced by not just first-time office seekers, but all candidates running in this year’s election, which has already started with early voting for the Primary.

You can’t hold town hall meetings. You can’t walk the neighborhood knocking on doors. You can’t hold swanky meet-and-greets in the backyards of wealthy donors. 

Heck, you can’t even shake hands. And the idea of kissing somebody else’s baby seems almost criminal.

Not to mention the fact that it’s hard to get people’s attention when all eyes are on a death toll that keeps climbing.

But this election will decide who leads us out of this pandemic. That makes it more important, not less. And, in several local districts, the Primary Election now will be more important than the general election in November.

Fifty years of experience in the state Senate is on the line in just two races. Mary Kay Papen, first elected in 2000 and now president pro temp., and John Arthur Smith, first elected in 1990 and now chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, both face strong challengers.

Carrie Hamblen, the incredibly active and public CEO of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, will challenge for Papen’s seat. Neomi Martinez Parra, a former vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, will try to take the seat that Smith has held for 30 years.

Other big races are in Senate District 31, House District 34 and County Commission District 5.

For the past several weeks, Peter Goodman and I have been co-hosting on-air forums for local candidates on community radio, KTAL-LP 101.5 FM. They are available online at lcsommunityradio.org.

KRWG is taping a debate with Yvette Herrell, Claire Chase and Chris Mathys, the three Republican candidates running for the chance to face Xochitl Torres Small in November. 

This may not feel like an important election, but it is. And you can safely participate by absentee ballot without putting your health at risk.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.

Walt Rubel