Roxanne "Rocky" Lara, an attorney from Republican-dominated Carlsbad, wants to be chairwoman of the state Democrat Party.
She is lining up votes to pull what some would consider an upset -- like pugilistic movie hero Rocky defeating a big-name fighter.
Lara has campaigned in 24 of New Mexico's 33 counties, and she says she will reach them all before the party election April 27 at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces.
State Central Committee members will elect a chairman or chairwoman to succeed Javier Gonzales of Santa Fe, who has led the party for four years.
Attorney Sam Bregman of Albuquerque has waged a higher-profile campaign than Lara for the chairmanship, sending regular publicity handouts when he picks up endorsements from elected officials.
Lara, 38, said in an interview that she has taken a different tack, focusing on the committee members who will cast ballots in Las Cruces. Her strategy is like a candidate working to secure delegates at a convention.
A third candidate, Albuquerque physician Cornelia "Nili" Lange, also is running for party chairwoman. Lara, though, said she viewed Bregman as her major competition.
An attorney who practices family law, Lara said she had crafted a goal-oriented message in her campaign. It has three planks: Communication throughout the party, collaboration across county lines to identify common problems and solutions, and strategic long-term fundraising that includes enticing national contributors.
Lara said this is the program that can unify New Mexico Democrats and help them win consistently.
Her father was a firefighter and later a potash miner who believed in and belonged to unions. He became a school board member in Carlsbad, fueling her interest in politics. Lara's mother also was a union member, with the United Food and Commercial Workers.
After a term as an Eddy County commissioner, Lara said she opted not to seek re-election so she could run for state Democratic chairwoman.
"We have the votes to win," she said of her campaign against Bregman and Lange.
Victory by someone outside the 1-25 corridor would signal that Democrats all across the state are mobilizing, she said.
Lara said she would keep the state party headquarters in Albuquerque, but would try to open a satellite office in southeastern New Mexico, another sign that the party is ready to be a force in traditional Republican areas.
Of the GOP, which has become accustomed to winning in Carlsbad, Roswell, Hobbs and Eunice, she said: "It would send a message that we're bringing the game to them, and we're not going to run from it."