Deborah Baker at the Albuquerque Journal reports that this sentiment stretches beyond Republicans in the state legislature to the state's representatives on the Republican National Committee.
New Mexico Republican National Committeeman, Pat Rogers, said,
"If New Mexico maintains a June primary, we’re going to be completely irrelevant. We not only won’t receive any visits; we may never hear the words ‘New Mexico’ during the campaign season.”The bill's sponsor in the New Mexico, Representative Nate Gentry (R-30th, Bernalillo) -- the House Majority leader in the state House -- echoed that but added the economic benefits an earlier primary would bring:
“They’d [the candidates would] be staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants … so it would really be a boost to the tourism industry.”It is not clear how that would necessarily work. HB 346, the bill to move the primary, proposes shifting the date up to the third Tuesday in March. Illinois and Missouri are already scheduled for that date -- March 15 -- and Michigan has already passed legislation through one chamber to move to that date as well. That is not that crowded, but that could change. If a Big Ten primary forms on that date with more midwestern partners for the states already there, that would potentially harm the New Mexico effort to draw attention from the candidates. There may be greener pastures on an earlier date or legislators in New Mexico could gamble that the race will still be active later in March where some other neighboring western states are either already scheduled or are considering moving.
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