So… what is it?
The technical answer is that it is a way to determine where candidates for statewide and federal offices (all the statewide offices were contested in 2010 and won’t be on the ballot this year) will appear on the primary ballot on June 5 — or if they will appear.
But it also serves as an unofficial kickoff date to the primary campaign. While candidates have been campaigning for weeks or even months, this will is a date that will mark the off the final two-month sprint to the primary election on June 5.
To qualify for the ballot, a candidate must reach 20 percent of the votes of elected delegates. If not, the candidate has the option of qualifying for the ballot by collecting signatures. No candidate who has failed to get 20 percent of the delegates at the pre-primary convention has gone on to win the primary.
Winning the pre-primary convention, and getting the top spot on the ballot, isn’t a guarantee for success in the primary. In 2008, Bill McCamley won the Democratic pre-primary convention vote for the 2nd Congressional District primary but narrowly lost in the Democratic primary to Harry Teague and in 2010, Brian Moore won the Republican pre-primary vote for Lieutenant Governor but went on to lose to John Sanchez in the primary.
But not reaching 20 percent can have a big impact on the perceived electability of a candidate. In 2010, a number of candidates dropped their bids for office after a poor showing at the pre-primary convention.
The big event tomorrow should be the vote for the 1st Congressional District where former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez, state Senator Eric Griego and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan-Grisham will all vie for the top ballot position. The US Senate race between U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas will also be one to watch for how many votes Balderas will be able to get in his uphill battle against Heinrich.
The New Mexico Telegram will cover the Democratic pre-primary convention from the Albuquerque Convention Center including livetweets from @NMTelegram and here at New Mexico Telegram.