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State Democrats to hold pre-primary convention in Roswell

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Roswell has been chosen by the Democratic Party of New Mexico to host its pre-primary convention and state central committee meeting in March.

The Roswell Convention Center at 912 North Main St. is the venue of choice for the event, according to a letter sent out by Sean Ward, executive director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. A copy of the letter was provided to the Roswell Daily Record by the party.

“We’re thrilled to be in Roswell for our upcoming pre-primary convention. In 2022, Democrats are committed to campaigning across New Mexico and engaging voters in all 33 counties. This convention is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that commitment and set the bar as we head into election season,” Jessica Velasquez, chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said in a statement Wednesday.

Sarah McArthur, chair of the Democratic Party of Chaves County, when reached for comment Thursday, said local Democrats are excited to have Roswell be the site of the convention.

“The decision to hold the convention here is a reflection of how Democrats are reaching out to voters in every part of our state,” McArthur said.

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When reached Thursday, Claire Chase, chair of the Republican Party of Chaves County, declined to comment.

Every two years the state Democratic Party holds a pre-primary convention, in which delegates elected at county conventions across the state determine which individuals for statewide and congressional office appear on the June primary ballot and in which order.

Miranda Van Dijk, communications director for the state party, said convention attendance ranges anywhere between slightly less than 1,000 up to 2,000, depending on how many delegates there are in a given year.

Federal and statewide candidates must collect a certain number of signatures or get a minimum of 20% of delegates to get on the primary ballot, she said.

The event will begin Friday night with a reception. The convention will happen Saturday, where in addition to delegate voting, candidates, party leaders and elected officials will have the chance to address delegates.

Following the convention, the state central committee, the Democratic Party of New Mexico’s governing body will hold their spring meeting at the Convention Center to consider any possible party rule changes and other pending business.

Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to gain access and face coverings will be required in indoor settings, Van Dijk said.

She added that Roswell was picked by Velasquez and other state party officers for the convention, in part because it has a venue to accommodate the large number of Democrats, and because they wanted to hold the gathering outside of the major metropolitan areas.

“We were looking for somewhere in the southern part of the state and it’s somewhere where we haven’t been in a while,” Van Dijk explained.

The convention will draw big names in the Democratic Party to Roswell, a city in a New Mexico oil patch county in the fiercely Republican southeast.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, former President Donald Trump won the county with 70% of the vote in 2020 and Democrats failed to field candidates in most of the county’s local or legislative races that same year.

As of Nov. 30, data shows that of the county’s 34,518 registered voters, 17,195 (49.8%) are registered Republicans, compared to 9,295 (26.9%) Democrats; and 7,125 (20.6%) who are Decline to State — New Mexico’s designation for registered voters not affiliated with any political party — while 312 (0.9%) are Libertarians and 591 are voters aligned with another political party.

Van Dijk acknowledged Chaves County is not favorable to Democrats on election night, but with a high-stakes midterm election on the horizon, the party is looking to energize its supporters and connect with crucial undecided voters.

“It’s really important to us that we are not just staying in areas where, you know, we are seeing higher Democratic turnout. We know that Chaves County is a redder part of the state, but those Democratic votes there still matter,” she said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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