He says they will find going tough in run against him for governor
State Attorney General Gary King is the son of a storied three-term New Mexico governor. But, King said, even he had name identification problems when he first ran for governor in 1998.
King, right, a Democrat, had been a state representative for 12 years. Even with that resume and a famous name in New Mexico, he said, he faced an uphill climb in getting the public to know him.
Marty Chavez, the mayor of Albuquerque, bested King and four others in the '98 primary. Incumbent Republican governor Gary Johnson then defeated Chavez in the general election.
King announced in 2002 that he would run again for governor, but quit before the primary.
Now 58, King says he will run again for governor in 2014. The state legislators who are in the race or thinking about running will face the same roadblocks he did 15 years ago, King said in a recent interview.
State lawmakers essentially have local or regional audiences that know them, King said. The step up to a statewide race will leave all of them suddenly aware that they are unknowns to most in New Mexico, he said.
King said he faced that very struggle, even though he was the son of the late Bruce King, who was governor in parts of the '70s, '80s and '90s.
State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said she is in the race against King.
Fellow Democratic state Sens. Howie Morales of Silver City and Timothy Keller of Albuquerque say they are thinking about running for governor.
King said he had heard that Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, also was considering a gubernatorial campaign. We are trying to reach Martinez for comment.
King said he did not expect Keller, at 35 the youngest of the possible candidates, to make a bid for governor. King said he believed Keller instead would run for state auditor in 2014.
Lopez has been in a statewide race once before, running unsuccessfully for the lieutenant governor nomination in 2008.
Morales, right, was the Grant County clerk before he became a senator in 2008.
Other Democrats still could emerge as candidates for governor. Whoever wins the primary will face Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in the November 2014 election.
She seems to defy King's analysis about local politicians struggling for name recognition.
Martinez was the district attorney of Dona Ana County when she ran for governor in 2010. Former state Rep. Dennis Kintigh, a Republican from Roswell, said few outside Las Cruces knew Martinez when she began her campaign for governor.
Martinez built name recognition by winning a Republican primary. Then she won the general election over Diane Denish, the lieutenant governor under Bill Richardson, a Democrat whose popularity was in deep decline in 2010.
Gary King's political career, like his father's, has had ups and downs. Gary King lost a race for Congress in the Southern New Mexico district after his first run for governor. He made a comeback by winning two terms as attorney general.
His background in hard science makes King an unusual politician. He has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry as well as a law degree.
Whether he is right about legislators facing a titanic struggle to get themselves known remains to be seen.
Johnson had no political experience and had not been in the public eye when he first ran for governor in 1994. A construction company owner, Johnson positioned himself as a businessman who could bring a fresh perspective to government.
Johnson also spent a chunk of his own fortune to finance his campaign.
He squeaked through the Republican primary, then defeated King's father, the sitting governor, in the '94 general election.