Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Republicans Search For Inroads Into the North.

Byline: David Mercer Of the Journal

When U.S. Sen. Bronson Cutting died in a Missouri plane crash in 1935, political experts say the fortunes of the Republican Party in northern New Mexico went with him.

Cutting would now be considered a political oddity, a New Deal Republican who many credit for helping maintain New Mexico's Republican Party strength through progressive policies.

Since his death, Republican success in northern New Mexico has been sporadic, scattered in the electoral victories of former Gov. David Cargo and U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, as well as Bill Redmond's 1997 special-election upset in the 3rd Congressional District and wins in other, smaller races.

But University of New Mexico political science professor F. Chris Garcia believes that, even after decades of separation, northern New Mexico's Hispanic Democrats the core of the party here and the Republicans really aren't that far from each other in their social conservatism.

"The Hispanos of north and central New Mexico are socially conservative. The Republicans are right there."

But on Election Day the gap remains wide. And closing it in the years to come could become more important for New Mexico's Republicans as the Democrats target other areas with growing Hispanic populations.

Democrats, state party Chairwoman Diane Denish said, believe they can build another stronghold in southern counties like Dona Ana, Grant and Hidalgo as their populations become more Hispanic. …

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