Filing Deadline: Feb. 10
Nov. 4, 1998 Republican Gov. Gary Johnson won a second term, defeating Democrat Martin Chávez, the former Albuquerque mayor. Johnson claimed 54 percent of the vote, while Chávez won 46 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Polls: A poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research in late October showed Johnson expanding his lead, but still within the poll's 5 percent margin of error; Johnson had 47 percent and Chávez had 43 percent. A Mason-Dixon survey from early October showed Johnson with 45 percent and Chávez with 43 percent. Both polls showed at least 10 percent undecided.
Issues: Both Johnson and Chávez agreed education is a top priority, but they disagreed on methods to improve it. Johnson proposed starting more charter schools, disbanding the state's Board of Education and distributing vouchers. Chávez opposed Johnson's plans, which the legislature defeated, and focused on school safety. Chávez and other critics gave Johnson flak after he called New Mexico a "welfare state" during an August appearance, citing the state's declining job market and poor standing on education.
The two also clashed over state taxes. Though Forbes magazine ranked New Mexico among the states with the highest tax rates, the state benefits from a budget surplus that prompted Johnson to repeal a 6-cent gasoline tax and cut other taxes. Chávez challenged the cuts and proposed a tax amnesty instead.
Fund-raising: As of Oct. 14, Chávez raised $942,000 and Johnson raised $863,000. Chávez reported $100,000 cash on hand compared to Johnson's reported $125,000 cash on hand.
Advertising: Chávez and Johnson stuck to their clean-campaign pact most of the year, but the agreement broke down in mid-October when the New Mexico GOP ran a radio ad attacking Chávez's mayoral record. Chávez criticized Johnson for saying he was not involved with the spot, and Johnson slammed a Chávez TV ad that he said misled voters about children's health care during Johnson's tenure in office.
Susan Heavey, washingtonpost.com
Susan Heavey can be reached at email@example.com
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company