Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Gov. Says Caucus Means Clout.(Final)

Byline: Loie Fecteau Journal Politics Writer

* Richardson thinks Feb. 3 votes for presidential nominee could give N.M. the spotlight

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson says switching from a regular June primary election to a Feb. 3 caucus for New Mexico's Democratic presidential nomination would give the state more political juice next year.

"For the first time in history, Western issues and Hispanic voters will have a say in the early days of a presidential campaign," the Democratic governor said of the caucus plan.

Richardson quietly pushed a bill through the Legislature earlier this year to allow New Mexico's three major political parties to hold presidential nominating caucuses. Democrats would still participate in a June primary election for all other offices on New Mexico's 2004 ballot. The new law allowing caucuses took effect Friday.

"This is in line with our strategy to make New Mexico more visible and relevant in the presidential and political process," Richardson said in an interview last week. …

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