Carl Trujillo shows he’s no fluke, knocks off David Coss in tight race
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Los Alamos National Laboratory employee Carl Trujillo engineered an impressive political victory Tuesday night (June 5), winning the state House of Representatives seat held since 1975 by outgoing Speaker of the House Ben Luján by defeating the mayor of Santa Fe, David Coss who had been endorsed by Luján as well as his son US Congressman Ben Ray Luján in a campaign that saw the Speaker’s political action committee spend $3,300 on the Coss campaign.
Trujillo came within 84 votes in 2010 of pulling off a stunning upset of Speaker Luján in his own backyard — District 46 that makes up parts of Santa Fe, Nambé and Pojoaque — and on Tuesday night, Trujillo proved it was no fluke winning by 205 votes in the Democratic Party primary.
There is no Republican running in November so Trujillo has clear sailing towards taking a seat in the Roundhouse.
“We stayed focus on a grassroots campaign,” Trujillo told Capitol Report New Mexico from his home in Nambé. “We went door to door … and I think that made the difference.”
Coss, who received criticism from some for saying he planned on keeping his mayorship should he be elected to the statehouse, told Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican, “I’m still the mayor of Santa Fe and I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Here’s more from Trujillo, who campaigned as an outsider determined to defeat “machine” politics in northern New Mexico:
The race was hard-fought and sometimes contentious with Coss criticizing Trujillo for skipping most of the debates between the two candidates and Trujillo questioning whether he would get a fair shake from party loyalists handling the debates that Trujillo likened to “gladiator”-type events.
In the last few days of the election, Coss supporters pointed at mailers criticizing the mayor that came from a political action group associated with Gov. Susana Martinez and tried linking the ads to the Trujillo campaign. The Coss campaign went all out in the final days of the campaign enlisting state Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) who sent out a Twitter message the morning of Tuesday’s primary saying, “David Coss needs our help fighting the Gov’s oil-fueled smear machine. Please get out, vote 4 Coss & disappoint gov. Martinez.”
Trujillo said Coss had taken part in negative campaigning as well while insisting the Trujillo camp not only had nothing to do with the Martinez mailers but wanted no part of them.
“I think [the mailers associated with the governor] hurt our campaign,” Trujillo said adding, “I think we need to do some campaign reform. I think the idea of people putting money into politics, especially when it’s not asked for, I think actually hurt us.” Trujillo said he thinks he could have won by a wider margin without the last-week mailers.