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Monday, October 18, 2010

Attorney General King and Matthew Chandler Debate in Las Cruces

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Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

Attorney General Gary King and his challenger, Matt Chandler, faced off in an occasionally caustic debate at the New Mexico State University Corbett Center in Las Cruces on Sunday. Chandler and King frequently clashed over background credentials and experience. King outlined his background in consumer affairs, protection of New Mexico’s water and other natural resources, and his ongoing prosecutions of state ethics violations. Chandler stressed his background as a District Attorney. “You need a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office,” Chandler said, outlining a record of local criminal convictions. Chandler promised to take on political leaders “regardless of party,” in the state which he termed the “most corrupt.”

“If elected you won’t need someone who must learn on the job,” King said of his candidacy. Attorney General King noted that in his first term he had received national recognition for his effectiveness at rooting out child predators. “I am the most successful Attorney General at protecting children from Internet crimes,” King said. He also pointed out that his office was the first to win a judgment for mistreatment and lack of care against a corporation in a Medicare abuse case in which a patient in a nursing facility had been found with a bedpan fused to their skin.

Chandler charged King with travelling out of state and seeking to work in concert with other state jurisdictions and with the Mexican government in enforcing New Mexico’s laws. “My opponent criticizes me for working with other states and with Mexican authorities,” King said. “I have news for him. You can’t draw a line around the state of New Mexico and expect criminals not to cross it.” On the issue of out of state and foreign travel to address organizations on issues of child endangerment and trafficking, King said the state had not paid for any of the trips, except one, a trip in which he was invited to address illegal child trafficking at an international conference in Geneva.

Immigration: On immigration and border security, Chandler said New Mexico needed to stop making itself “friendly to illegal aliens,” and that he would act against the state issuing driver’s licenses to “illegal aliens,” a statute Chandler charged King with supporting. “My opponent tells you what he wants the law to be,” King responded. “He doesn’t understand that the job of the Attorney General is to defend the law that is on books.”

Health Care Reform: On health care reform, Chandler said he would join other state Attorneys General in bringing suit against the Federal law which he said was “clearly unconstitutional.” King responded, “First my opponent tells you he’s a great prosecutor, now he claims he’s a constitutional authority.” King pointed out that the suit of twenty Republican Attorneys General had been filed as a political response immediately after passage of the national law, an action which he termed as reflecting a lack of serious deliberation on the matter. “The Supreme Court will determine what is, and what is not, constitutional,” King said. “My job as Attorney General is to fight for what is good for New Mexico.” King added that on the issue of health reform, generally, he could support any effort to protect consumers from “denying coverage to consumers based on pre-existing conditions.”

Corruption: Chandler claimed his “most effective” prosecutions had involved “convictions for government corruption,” and termed himself “tough” for having sought the death penalty in a murder prosecution. “My desire is to stand up to corruption in New Mexico. The people have the right to expect that the Attorney General will act on behalf of the people who put them in office,” Chandler said.

“If you want to fight corruption,” King responded, “first you have to be honest and ethical yourself.”

Experience: King is the incumbent Attorney General for the State of New Mexico. Chandler is District Attorney of the Ninth Judicial District of New Mexico, representing the citizens of Curry and Roosevelt Counties. Chandler has been an attorney for nine years, and was first elected in 2004. Gary King has twenty-six years of experience as an attorney. He served for twelve years in the New Mexico state legislature and was elected Attorney General in 2006. King also holds a PhD in chemistry.

Photos by Stephen Jones. To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

October 18, 2010 at 09:49 AM in 2010 NM Attorney General Race, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Las Cruces | Permalink


I was at this event and King crushed Chandler. Chandler has the same things to say every repub candidate has this year. They're like trained dummies.

Posted by: Robert NMSU | Oct 18, 2010 1:59:07 PM

I was also at this event and only a King homer would say that he won this debate. King's voice was shaky and he looked nervous throughout the whole debate. The choice was very obvious after this debate and Chandler was the celar victor.

Posted by: Stan NMSU | Oct 18, 2010 4:32:42 PM

You misquoted both candidates, especially Chandler. I filmed the debate and posted it.

First, King isn't (nor did he say) the leading prosecutor in the nation in internet crimes against children. He is relying on state prosecutor's stats.

Chandler, never once used the word "illegal aliens". Watch the entire debate, not once does he say that. He did say he is opposed to allowing illegal immigrants a NM Drivers' License.

King never mentioned the word "water" or talked about the water.

Chandler never said he was "tough".

This is awful reporting at it's finest.

Posted by: Get the Facts | Oct 18, 2010 4:44:20 PM

I think our readers should know that "Stan NMSU" and "Get the Facts" commented using a computer with the same IP address, which most likely means it's the same person or people in the same home or office. The computer is located in Albuquerque, not Las Cruces where NMSU is located.

Posted by: barb | Oct 18, 2010 5:52:45 PM

The negative comments above don't mean anything. Gary King DOES fight to protect our water, he is nationally recognized for his work against online crimes vs. children and Matt Chandler is known for being a hard ass on immigration issues.

Vote for King's experience and knowledge, not the tough guy image of the right winger.

Posted by: Tomas | Oct 18, 2010 7:10:24 PM

Ever think barb that a laptop can travel with someone when they are in a different city?

An opinion is an opinion regardless of IP addresses. People need to take off their blinders and not vote for someone just because of their last name or what their father did for this state. I am a Democrat who came into this election with an open view of who I was going to vote for. I am not a straight ticket voter like i'm sure most people are on here.

If anyone thinks that there is not a culture of corruption in this state, and they truely feel that it is getting taken care of....then we are going to have some issues for years to come.

What a joke of a site if someone can't come on and post their view with out having their IP address hacked into.

Posted by: Stan NMSU | Oct 19, 2010 7:49:40 AM

I see barb has hit a nerve with Stan. As for a culture of corruption, you only have to look at where the Republicans always get their money. It is always from big corporations, polluters, crooked real estate developers, the war machine and rich elites who believe they are so holier than thou that they don't have to pay taxes like the rest of us.

Republicans and their crazy economic, military and law and order policies are what have gotten the entire US and most other nations into the collapse we are facing. We're supposed to put this party back into power and not notice what their policies have done.

Matt Chandler is another example of a guy who has lived off the government for his entire career and yet he is a member of a party that says government is the problem. I rest my case.

Posted by: Esq. | Oct 19, 2010 9:34:31 AM

I might note that on the issue of "running on family name recognition," that Mr. Chandler, is the son of a prominent former New Mexico State Representative and local politician from eastern New Mexico, and unlike Attorney General King, repeatedly makes the connection to his relative and family relationship in his principal campaign literature.

Posted by: Stephen Jones | Oct 19, 2010 12:48:36 PM