- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The race to be New Mexico’s attorney general pits state Auditor Hector Balderas, a rising star in the Democratic Party, against Republican Susan Riedel, a former prosecutor and judge with more than two decades of legal experience.

Balderas wants to build an agency that would serve as a watchdog to ferret out fraud, waste and corruption.

Riedel says she knows how to put criminals behind bars and would do the same for officials who abuse the public’s trust.

The two are vying for the spot being vacated by Democratic Attorney General Gary King, who is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

Balderas held a more than 8-to-1 campaign cash advantage over Riedel with just weeks to go in the election, and he had advertising help from a national political group whose donors include the Democratic Attorneys General Association.

Riedel countered Friday with a new television ad touting her efforts to seek justice by highlighting her success in the case of 15-year-old Ashley Wax, who was murdered outside her Las Cruces home by her boyfriend in 2005.

Riedel, who served as the chief deputy district attorney in Las Cruces for 14 years, also prosecuted the murder case of New Mexico State University freshman Carly Martinez and handled the case of Baby Brianna, one of the state’s most horrific cases of child abuse.

Riedel has been endorsed by nearly two dozen sheriffs from across New Mexico and has the backing of the governor, who served as her boss during their time at the district attorney’s office.

Among her top issues, Riedel has said the attorney general’s office needs to thoroughly investigate and prosecute any officials who operate outside the law.

“Corruption has become a black eye for our state,” she said.

In recent years, the attorney general’s office has been criticized for slow-moving investigations, conflicts of interest and for not pursuing some cases.

Balderas, who has served as a prosecutor, certified fraud examiner, state lawmaker and auditor, has said Riedel hasn’t been tough enough and that his experience in uncovering fraud and corruption while auditor gives him the skill needed to rebuild the attorney general’s office.

Balderas said during a recent forum that he has been able to shine the light on embezzlement cases and other corruption despite the limited powers within the auditor’s office.

“Imagine if I have a tool box with many more tools to actually go out and make government work better, make corporate America work better and engage the nonprofit sector in a way that we can be providing better services to our community,” he said.

Early in-person voting has been underway for a week at satellite polling places across the state and will continue through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 4.

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