GOP governor hopeful testing political waters

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

It may be a year off, but the New Mexico gubernatorial race already has candidates out and about.

In a swing through eastern new Mexico, Republican hopeful Doug Turner of Albuquerque met Quay, Curry and Roosevelt county Republican party members Aug. 19 to talk issues.

He is traveling across the state, meeting with the party faithful and voters as part of his exploratory campaign, said Carri Phillis, his campaign director.

“I am traveling around, hitting as many places as I can and speaking with the people,” Turner said. “People have a deep desire for something different when it comes to politics.”

Turner, 40, said many of the issues are the same across the state — corruption, health care and education.

“It is no secret there is corruption in the government,” Turner said. “People are looking for someone …(who) is going to do the job right. Someone … not afraid to say ‘no’ when it is needed.”

Turner said many residents have come to expect government corruption.

“People are annoyed by this,” Turner said. “Having an honest government means you need to have honest leadership — someone with vision, and (who) does not behold to special interest groups.”

Turner said he has a passion to reform the public education system.

“The state graduation rate is 54 percent,” Turner said. “That is too low by any standard. … I do not think the solution is to throw more money at the problem.”

Phillis said Turner’s goal is to hit all 33 counties in the state in a two-week tour. The election isn’t until November 2010, but Phillis said Turner is hardly getting a jump on campaigning.

“If you look back (on past elections) this is usually about the time people start coming out,” she said. “With everything going on in this state right now there’s a lot of people already on the ground.”

Other declared Republican candidates include former state party leader Alan Weh, 66, Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque.

Turner is also no stranger to politics. He was the campaign manager for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and worked as a consultant during Johnson’s administrations.

Turner is founder and CEO of a public relations firm based in Albuquerque.

“He’s a little young, but I’m impressed,” said Bill Menges, chairman of the Quay County Republicans. “He has a good hold on how governments work and should work.”