Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen Weh said he wants to clean up Santa Fe, improve education and deal with tough economic times in making his candidacy official on Tuesday.
He also pledged to bring a bipartisan team with him to Santa Fe if elected.
Weh made his formal announcement at the University of New Mexico.
“For seven years, the Richardson-Denish administration has turned our state around for the worst,” Weh said in a news release following the event. “As a businessman and a leader in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have a plan to get our state back on track. It’s time to instill public confidence in our state government, fix our school system, balance our budget and bring real jobs to this state.”
Weh was introduced at his announcement by Vickie Perea, former Albuquerque City Council president and former candidate for Secretary of State.
“We have not had a candidate of Allen Weh’s caliber in much too long,” Perea said in the release. “It is the success that Allen Weh has carved out in his life’s work that qualifies him for governor of New Mexico.”
Perea cited as Weh’s qualities his “private business, his military service, his commitment to his family, his passion for enhancing life for others, his integrity, his genuineness as a person, his high ethical and moral standards and, the most important of all, his devotion to his wife and family and, ultimately to our state.”
Weh had previously formed an exploratory committee and has been campaigning for months. His campaign said Tuesday that he’s put 15,000 miles on his truck since January traveling the state to talk with voters.
“… there has been one common theme: New Mexicans want new leadership in Santa Fe,” Weh said. “I have time for one more tour of duty. When I’m elected governor of New Mexico, I’ll bring fiscal sanity back to Santa Fe with commonsense solutions.”
Weh is the Chief Executive Officer of CSI Aviation Services. He’s married and has three children and four grandchildren. The former chairman of the state GOP has served on a number of boards including the Albuquerque Police Advisory Board and New Mexico Retail Association Board of Directors.
He’s also a retired Marine colonel. He served two tours in Vietnam and has been recalled to active duty several times.
Reactions to Weh’s candidacy
With his military service in mind, one of Weh’s opponents in the GOP primary, Susana Martinez, released this statement about Weh’s candidacy:
“As the stepmother of a current serviceman, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who serve our country, and I respect Allen Weh’s military service. Allen Weh has political experience as Republican Party chairman for the last four years, but I believe we must nominate a different kind of candidate with a proven record of taking on corruption if we are going to beat Diane Denish next fall.”
In addition to Weh and Martinez, state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones has already entered the race. Public relations professional Doug Turner appears to be about to formally jump into the race, and former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., says she’s thinking about running.
The state Democratic Party was quick to hit Weh with this statement from Executive Director Josh Geise:
“Weh’s tenure as head of the Republican Party was a catastrophic failure. He presided over the most stunning defeats in New Mexico Republican Party history. The Republican Party under his watch saw intense infighting and contested, nasty primaries. If he couldn’t stop the fighting inside his own party, why would New Mexicans think he would be a bipartisan leader in Santa Fe?
“The one thing Allen Weh did do a good job as chairman of the Republican Party was the pressure he and Heather Wilson put on the Bush White House to have David Iglesias fired for purely political reasons. That’s not the kind of leadership we need in Santa Fe.”
Here’s video of part of Weh’s announcement, courtesy of KKOB-AM’s Peter St. Cyr: