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"A Good, Tufts Fight"

"A Good, Tufts Fight"Election season is beginning to heat up, as two Tufts graduates -- Bill Richardson and Ray Powell -- prepare to square off in the upcoming elections for Governor of New Mexico. Albuquerque, N.M.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.18.02] As campaign season heats up in New Mexico, two Tufts graduates are preparing to go head-to-head in a battle to become the state's next governor. Though their backgrounds and experiences are quite different -- one has a diploma from Tufts' Veterinary School, the other holds both an undergraduate and Fletcher degree -- their political showdown leading up to New Mexico's Democratic Primary promises to be "a good, Tufts fight."

"I want a contest. I want a primary. I want a good, tough fight on the future of New Mexico." Those were Bill Richardson's comments to the Associated Press as described the campaign environment he hopes will surround his race to be New Mexico's next governor.

The former 14-year Congressman from New Mexico will likely get what he asked for.

In the Democratic Primary, Richardson will face off against a field containing several tough candidates, including New Mexico's State Land Commissioner Ray Powell.

Powell -- a 1985 graduate of Tufts' School of Veterinary Medicine -- has built a solid record on environmental and issues during his 10-year career as land commissioner. Prior to holding that elected position, Powell was specially appointed by New Mexico's governor to oversee the state's strategy for managing the environment and its natural resources.

Of course, Richardson is no political lightweight either.

One of the highest-ranking Hispanics in U.S. politics, Richardson's political career includes appointments as U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. representative to the United Nations.

Once a front-runner for Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential elections, Richardson holds both a Tufts undergraduate degree and a master's from Tufts' Fletcher School.

According to F. Chris Garcia -- an expert on New Mexico politics -- the political caliber of Richardson and Powell will likely result in one of the most interesting elections in the state's recent history.

"I think we could have one of the highest-level policy debates we've ever seen in terms of education and other issues," Garcia told the Albuquerque Journal.

Already, the two Tufts graduates have been building up political support for their respective campaigns.

"We're running because we want to make a positive difference in New Mexico," Powell told the Albuquerque Journal about the focus of his campaign. "It bothers me that one out of five of our citizens live in poverty and one out of four doesn't have health insurance. We can do a whole lot better."

In an interview with the same newspaper, Richardson cited education as one of the top issues he plans to address.

"Richardson noted ... that New Mexico still ranks near the bottom in teacher salaries, per capita income and the number of uninsured children," reported the Journal.

It's time for a change, Richardson said. "By any standard, our state government is failing us," he said.

New Mexico's democrats have until the June 4 primary to decide who they want to get the state back on track. For many, it will likely come down to a "Tufts" decision.

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