The race to replace Ben Ray Luján in the U.S. House of Representatives — he’s leaving to try to replace Tom Udall in the U.S. Senate, in case you haven’t been paying attention — got a little more crowded last week. Formally announcing was Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez, who a few weeks ago filed her declaration of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. Meanwhile, District Attorney Marco Serna filed his declaration with the FEC.
I predict that Serna’s people soon will be contacting The New Mexican and other news organizations to announce his “formal” announcement. And that’s fine — assuming I don’t have to dress formally to cover it. Candidates serious about winning aren’t afraid of tugging on the coats of reporters, columnists and editors to try to get coverage.
Pro tip: I’m not saying you have to pander to the press, but if you’re running for a high-profile public office, you ought to at least make sure we know about it.
Leger Fernandez and Serna obviously know this. So do former CIA operative Valerie Plame and state Rep. Joseph Sanchez, who also are running for Luján’s seat.
But there are others in this race who don’t seem to realize this simple, commonsense rule.
Besides those names, there are at least three others: Dineh Benally, Gavin Kaiser of Santa Cruz and Cameron Alton Chick, Sr. of Rio Rancho.
Of these, I’d have to say the best-known is Benally, who has run unsuccessfully for Navajo Nation president and vice president. He’s president of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Farm Board, according to his website.
He apparently did get in touch with The Navajo Post, a newspaper published twice a month, to make his announcement. However, he hasn’t contacted us, and I haven’t seen any announcement in the Taos News, the Gallup Independent, the Rio Grande Sun, the Las Vegas Optic or the Albuquerque Journal, which, like this paper, has listed him in the ever-growing roll call of CD3 candidates.
In fact, if Google can be trusted, the only other outlet that has published anything about a Benally announcement is the Lake Powell Life News, an online magazine out of Arizona.
Benally has not yet filed with the FEC — or at least he hadn’t when I checked the agency’s website Friday. But Kaiser and Chick have filed declarations with the feds.
According to the FEC, Kaiser filed on April 19. His campaign committee is called “Kaiser for Constitutional Rights” and has the same post office box as Kaiser himself.
I couldn’t find a campaign website for Kaiser, but his personal Facebook page says he’s from Palmyra, Tenn., and lists his occupation as founder and executive director of something called Oratory of Mystical Sacraments.
The group’s website says it’s “an all-encompassing religious organization that respects, values, and draws upon the ethical religious, mystical, and spiritual arts and wisdom of any and all of Earth’s peoples, developed or practiced at any point throughout mankind’s existence, and has a nationwide network of members successfully exercising their rights to religious freedom and the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, as they pertain to sacraments.” Those sacraments include psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and marijuana. The OMS website has a photo of Kaiser sitting in a yoga position on the great seal of New Mexico on the floor of the Roundhouse Rotunda.
By the way, Kaiser and I have 98 mutual friends on Facebook, many of whom are local musicians.
As far as Chick goes, there is far less available info on him than on Benally or Kaiser. I stumbled across his name while visiting the FEC website. He filed a statement of organization for “Elect Cameron Chick Sr.” on March 10, listing himself as treasurer and custodian of records for the committee.
Facebook lists several people with the name “Cameron Chick Sr.,” some of whom live in New Mexico. There is one from Rio Rancho who lists his occupation as a “country singer,” but it mentions nothing about running for Congress. Come to think about it, neither do the Facebook pages of Benally or Kaiser.
I’ve never run for office before and never managed a campaign. So my advice probably isn’t that golden. But come on, if you’re going to run for Congress — or the County Commission or whatever — you won’t even have a chance of winning if you don’t let people know.