State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill will not run for Congress, saying her three-county district in Southern New Mexico deserves her full attention.

A state lawmaker for only eight months, Correa Hemphill decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to seek a national office.

“I want to stand firm with my commitment to my constituents,” she said in a telephone interview.

Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City, spent part of the summer considering a campaign in the 2nd Congressional District. Represented by first-term Republican Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, the district stretches across the southern half of New Mexico, much of it Donald Trump country.

Democrats at the state and national level had encouraged Correa Hemphill to run for Congress. Many party regulars believed she would have matched up favorably against Herrell, a devotee of Trump.

If there’s any middle ground remaining in the 2nd Congressional District, Correa Hemphill seemed like the sort of Democrat who could tap into it. She co-sponsored with Republican lawmakers successful bills to expand an economic development program and provide help for rural communities trying to navigate state government.

With abortion rights again a white-hot issue in America, Correa Hemphill also satisfied the progressive wing of her party. She voted for a bill that repealed an unenforceable 1969 state law that criminalized abortion.

Democrats feared New Mexico’s antiquated law would gain teeth if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Now that Correa Hemphill has decided not to run, she is supporting Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez in the congressional election. He is the lone Democrat in the race so far, having declared his candidacy last week.

Vasquez and Correa Hemphill had a conversation when each was exploring a run for Congress. She says Vasquez was gracious to her even when she was a potential rival.

With Correa Hemphill out of the running, the question of whether Democrats have any chance to win will be asked often.

Vasquez needs an uncontested or easy primary to conserve money.

Even if that happens, the odds are against him.

Republicans have controlled the 2nd Congressional District for 36 of the last 40 years.

Herrell accounted for one of the two losing Republican campaigns. Democrat Xochitl Torres Small defeated Herrell in 2018, when the seat was open.

Herrell easily won a rematch with Torres Small last year, thanks in part to Trump’s presence on the ballot in the presidential election. Trump carried the 2nd Congressional District by 12 percentage points, though he lost New Mexico in a rout.

Travels with Keller

Step off a plane in Albuquerque, and city government is quick and abrasive in letting you know the municipal election is only weeks away.

“On behalf of Mayor Tim Keller, welcome to the Albuquerque International Sunport,” a female voice says in a recorded message that’s played early and often. Ah, I miss the old days, when a recorded greeting in a public building didn’t carry political overtones.

A cakewalk for Keller?

Many people believe Keller is in trouble politically because of Albuquerque’s crime wave. Onetime Albuquerque mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli isn’t among them.

“I think he’ll win in a landslide,” Dinelli said of Keller.

Dinelli knows a bit about one-sided elections. Then-Mayor Richard J. Berry crushed Dinelli in 2013.

Dinelli’s prognostication is understandable in one sense. Keller is a liberal Democrat facing two far more conservative candidates in a city that’s turned bright blue in recent elections.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales has run a mayoral campaign notable only for its fraud and bumbling. Deputy Barney Fife might as well have been at the controls of Gonzales’ tactical sessions.

Eddy Aragon, a Republican candidate in the nonpartisan election, should hurt Gonzales’ chances. If Dinelli has it right, Keller will get a second term without a runoff election.

It might not be that easy. Keller, 43, was a good state senator and a passable state auditor. He’s found the daily demands of being mayor overwhelming compared to his previous political jobs.

Worse for Keller, voters might be less forgiving of an incumbent in a year of record homicides.

She’s self-appointed

Rebecca Dow, one of a half-dozen little-known Republican candidates for governor, puts a lot of spin on her delivery.

In a media handout Tuesday, she called herself “gubernatorial front-runner Rebecca Dow.”

Dow used the rest of her statement to criticize Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who won the office by 14 percentage points against a candidate far better-known than Dow.

Even if Dow should top the weak field in the Republican primary next June, front-runner status would exist only in her fertile imagination.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at or 505-986-3080.

(2) comments

Matt Matadoro

Mr. Simonich "notable" you say? That is how Gonzales always rolls with a wave of ineptness in all that he does. Only a goon like Gonzales would still keep incompetent officers on the payroll after settling civil cases for millions with the families of these victims shot by his inept deputies. Please don't insult, Barney Fife, he even recognized his own limitations by carrying an unloaded gun with his bullets at the ready---in his shirt pocket. Gonzales is so ensconced in his bubble of arrogance that he's touting the crime in Albuquerque---in his uniform. Of course the flying massage "toy" popped Gonzales' bubble but he's too ignorant as in most things to recognize his eventual election trouncing. Maybe Gonzales will already start now by claiming voter fraud and petitioning for a recount---- before the polls close.

Mike Johnson

The Democrats are hallucinating if they think Gabe has any chance here. Unless this district is so severely gerrymandered to install far left wing progressives, and move out all conservatives and moderates in the Democratic party, as well as GOP. A far left wing type like him has no chance. Of course the far left wing press types in 'Cruces, like Heath, Algernon, and Lucas will love him, but they are a distinct minority in CD2.

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