Former state Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh hasn’t officially announced that he’s seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Tom Udall for his U.S. Senate seat, but a GOP rival already is attacking his character.
Weh will make his official announcement of his candidacy Thursday via live video stream, campaign spokeswoman Chelsea Stallings said Wednesday.
In a news release Wednesday, Las Cruces lawyer David Clements, a libertarian Republican also running for the seat, said Weh “has a history of being dishonest and lying in an attempt to win.” He called Weh “an enemy of [Republican Gov.] Susana Martinez” said his position on immigration “won’t make him popular” with Hispanic voters. And he described Weh as a “71-year-old, white, wealthy, overtly partisan Republican who fits the most extreme caricature of Republicans.”
Sent a copy of Clements’ release, Stallings said the campaign wouldn’t be responding at this time. “We’re focused on the announcement tomorrow,” she said.
Though the Republican primary looks like it will be a nasty one, national pundits rate the general election as “safe” for Udall, running for his second term. National Republicans are not expected to spend any significant money on this race.
Weh is a retired military colonel who completed two tours in Vietnam and served with the British Royal Marines in Malaysia. He is founder of CSI Aviation, an Albuquerque aircraft company.
In a five-person race for governor in 2010, Weh came in second behind Susana Martinez in what turned into a heated election, with both candidates running negative ads against each other. Weh’s campaign that year largely was self-funded. He pumped $1.6 million of his own cash into his primary race.
In May 2010, Martinez fired first at Weh, with an ad blasting him for supporting “amnesty” for illegal immigrants — because back in 2007, Weh had backed the immigration reform plan being touted by then President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.
Weh countered, calling Martinez a “career politician” who was guilty of “failing to pay taxes” and who spent taxpayer dollars on “extravagant dinners, luxury hotels, dinner at Hooters, even iPods.”
Harvey Yates, who succeeded Weh as a state party chairman, stepped in, assembling a committee to examine the ads. The candidates were asked to supply documents to support their claims.
“It was found that the documents furnished by Susana Martinez reasonably supported her ad regarding Allen Weh’s earlier position on amnesty,” Yates said at the time. “However, it was found that the documents to which the committee was directed by Allen Weh did not reasonably support either his radio or TV ad.”
The flap caught the attention of FactCheck.org, a nonprofit website that “aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.”
FactCheck staffers Eugene Kiely and Viveca Novak wrote, “Our conclusion: Yates is right. The Weh ad is indeed a gross distortion of the truth.” However, they disagreed with Yates’ favorable judgment on Martinez’s accusation that Weh had backed “amnesty” for undocumented workers. “We think there’s plenty of evidence to find guilt on both sides,” Kiely and Novak concluded.