ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two Democrats are locked in a nasty primary for treasurer that has prompted allegations of bigotry and concerns that the race is getting out of hand.
Former Democratic state party chairman John Wertheim says in a campaign ad that his opponent, state Sen. Tim Eichenberg, discriminated against Latinos, women and gays with votes in the Senate and as Bernalillo County treasurer.
"Is Tim Eichenberg a real Democrat?" a voice asks on the TV ad. "He sided with Republicans to prevent equality for gay couples and failed to stand up to insurance companies that discriminate against women."
Eichenberg denied the claims and called the ad a "smear."
"My opponent is using 39-year-old smears because he doesn't want to talk about experience, integrity and qualifications," Eichenberg told supporters in a recent email. "On those issues, I'm the right choice for state treasurer."
The winner in Tuesday's primary will face Republican Rick Lopez in November.
The back and forth prompted current State Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman to blast the campaign ad, without naming Wertheim, for using "character assassination" and "unacceptable and despicable" attacks.
Bregman and Wertheim ran against each other in the 2000 Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District seat. Both lost to John Kelly.
In addition, Bregman is listed as a registered agent for New Mexico Property Tax Consultants, a company owned by Eichenberg that helps real estate owners file protests of property tax assessments, New Mexico secretary of state records show
Meanwhile, three seats are up for grabs on the state Public Regulation Commission, one of New Mexico's most powerful and highest paid panels. Its five members decide complex utility and telecommunication issues and regulate transportation, transmission and pipeline companies.