Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Surprise Victories Not New to Redmond.(New Mexico & The West)

Byline: Loie Fecteau Journal Politics Writer

ELECTIONS 2000

Republican Bill Redmond pulled off a stunning upset when he captured northern New Mexico's heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District seat in a 1997 special election.

Redmond, 46, hopes to score another political coup and unseat Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., in the November general election.

But that is "a Herculean task," said F. Chris Garcia, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico.

Bingaman is a popular three-term incumbent, Garcia said. Redmond lost his House seat in the 1998 general election.

"There's always a possibility," Garcia said. "One can't ever count out a candidate who has served in Congress, who has name recognition, who has strong support from his party and who has won an election. Those are all in Redmond's favor."

A former minister, Redmond is undaunted by critics and political observers who contend he won the 1997 race largely because Green Party candidate Carol Miller siphoned Democratic votes from Eric Serna, the Democratic nominee. Serna also battled questions about his ethics as a state corporation commissioner.

Redmond contends he won in 1997 because he ran a tough campaign focused on popular issues such as tax cuts, reducing the national debt and adjudicating northern New Mexico land grant claims. He plans to beat much the same drum against Bingaman.

Redmond shrugs off his 1998 defeat to Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. He maintains he lost his seat of 16 months because of an eleventh-hour barrage of Democrat-supported direct mail and telephone calls that wrongly accused him of racism, voting against breast-cancer research and supporting clear-cutting of New Mexico forests.

Redmond said he believes he was unfairly tagged "a right-wing fundamentalist preacher" in his previous campaigns.

He points to the successes of his wife and daughter to show he is "not a Bible-thumper from the backwoods of West Virginia. …

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