A planned political forum for the two Democrats seeking retiring Speaker Ben Lujan’s seat in the state House of Representatives apparently will be a one-man show.
|Beware The Machine!|
Candidate Carl Trujillo’s campaign manager said Friday that Trujillo had declined the invitation from the forum organizer — the Santa Fe County Democratic Party — almost a month ago. Trujillo is competing against Santa Fe Mayor David Coss for the District 46 House seat.
On March 22 Trujillo released a statement in which he said, “Because I am passionately committed to restoring honest, open and fair democratic values to our community, I would be happy to participate in a debate with Mayor Coss in a forum that is not run by or beholden to the Democratic Party Machine, and with scheduling and format mutually agreed upon by the two candidates rather than presented fait accompli by that Machine.”
The statement concluded, “... if Mayor Coss would like to attend the ‘debate’ you propose, I expect he'll be debating with himself. But that's probably okay — that's pretty much what the Political Machine here in New Mexico does most of the time anyway.”
She also said the county party “subsequently released the inaccurate information that we were attending.” Trujillo’s name has been listed in news releases about the forum.
But county Democratic chairman Richard Ellenbeg said Friday that shortly after Trujillo declined the invitation, he emailed the campaign. “The format we use has been used numerous times with success and without complaint,” Ellenberg’s email, released Friday to The New Mexican, said. “If you have some specific suggestions for improvement we would be happy to consider them.”
In early April Ellenberg emailed both Trujillo and Coss about the event’s proposed moderator, KSFR radio’s news director Bill Dupuy. “If there is an objection to him, please let me know,” the message said. But Ellenberg said that he’d never heard back from the Trujillo camp.
The event will go on as scheduled even if Trujillo doesn’t show, Ellenberg said. “At least they’ll know one candidate’s views on the issues,” he said.
Coss said Friday that he will go to the forum, even is he’s the only candidate there. “My campaign tells me I do a better job answering questions than I do giving speeches, anyway,” Coss said. “I’ll be happy to answer whatever they ask.”
Trujillo in 2010 came close to unseating Lujan — who later revealed he couldn’t campaign as hard as he wanted to because he was suffering advanced lung cancer.
During that campaign there was some bad blood between Trujillo and the Democratic establishment. For instance the state party refused to sell him access to a voter database because of a policy of not giving access to challengers of Democratic incumbents.
The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road.