Like many politicians, Republican congressional candidate Eddy Aragon has a grievance against the powers that be.

He says an election is being manipulated and sullied, possibly to his detriment. That claim is common enough.

What’s unusual is the target of Aragon’s complaint. He is raging against people who are his allies — at least on paper.

He says the New Mexico Republican Party has broken federal law in structuring a nominating election for the vacant seat in the 1st Congressional District.

Aragon is one of the candidates. He says four other Republicans have been improperly included on the ballot.

“Only I and Elisa Martinez are legally registered with the Federal Election Commission,” Aragon said. “All four other so-called candidates either have never registered with the FEC or registered too late after declaring. They are not legal candidates, and they should not be on the ballot.”

An executive committee member of the state Republican Party told me Aragon is off base.

“They are following the statute completely, and are in strict compliance with it,” said Robert Aragon, no relation to Eddy.

The law on federal elections is thick with verbiage. It covers 256 pages. Executives of the state Republican Party point to a few paragraphs in Title 52, Chapter 301, Subchapter 1 to rebut Eddy Aragon’s claims of lawbreaking.

That section states someone running for a seat in the House of Representatives becomes a candidate when he or she raises or spends more than $5,000.

It goes on to state federal registration must occur within 15 days after someone becomes a candidate.

Eddy Aragon described the statute differently.

“FEC law states that candidates must register within 15 days of declaring,” he said.

But declaring oneself a candidate might not mean anything if no campaign money has been raised or spent, according to the federal law.

Eddy Aragon, owner of a radio station, is making his first sustained try for public office.

He ran briefly for mayor of Albuquerque in 2017 before pulling out. Aragon was an independent then.

His allegiance now is to the GOP. Eddy Aragon in December ran for chairman of the state Republican Party. He lost to the incumbent, Steve Pearce.

As a congressional candidate, Aragon remains critical of Pearce, especially his handling of the nominating election.

“Weeks ago,” Eddy Aragon said, “I called for a simple, easy and transparent roll-call vote. But party Chairman Steve Pearce insisted on hiring a new company for electronic balloting — with illegal candidates.”

Aragon didn’t stop there, tossing brickbats at Pearce while praising himself.

“In the absence of any party leadership, I have stepped up to police this election while simultaneously running for CD 1,” Aragon said.

At least Aragon doesn’t have to worry about losing Pearce’s vote. Pearce lives in the 2nd Congressional District.

The Republican nominee for Congress will be chosen Saturday by 135 members of the 1st District’s central committee.

Robert Aragon of the state Republican Party said he expects every congressional candidate to file federal candidacy forms by Friday. That means six candidates would remain in contention.

Eddy Aragon’s objections could escalate if everyone remains on the ballot.

“Looks like we will see them in court,” he wrote in a text message.

Eddy Aragon says the four candidates who should be disqualified are Jared Vander Dussen, Ronnie Lucero, Michaela Chavez and Mark Moores.

Whoever receives the nomination will be an underdog in the special election against a Democrat on June 1.

A Republican has not won the 1st District seat since 2006.

Democrats on the state central committee will choose their congressional nominee from a field that includes state lawmakers, a community activist and a former aide to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Eddy Aragon said the opposition had done better organizational work than his party’s leadership.

“All eight Democratic candidates for CD 1 are legally registered with the FEC and have been for some time,” he said.

The Republican Party executive said Saturday he hadn’t received or seen a formal complaint from Eddy Aragon.

It’s early. Aragon’s criticism of his own party won’t end unless most of his competitors vanish.

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

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