By Mike Linn
Voters in Curry and Roosevelt counties chose youth over experience in electing Matthew Chandler as their new district attorney.
Chandler earned roughly 62 percent of the 4,057 votes cast and defeated fellow Republican and incumbent District Attorney Brett Carter in Tuesday’s 9th Judicial District election.
“It’s been a long four months, but it has paid off,” said Chandler, who watched the returns at the Curry County Courthouse with family and friends. “Mr. Carter had a very good campaign. We both ran hard and nobody in this race has anything to hang their head at.”
Throughout the campaign Carter applauded his experience working nearly 17 years as a prosecutor and two as district attorney. But the experience was no match for Chandler’s aggressive and active campaign style, something Carter said was a “major factor” in the victory.
“I have no hard feelings toward him,” Carter said. “He ran a hard, aggressive campaign and I think that’s what paid off.”
Carter, a Santa Fe native, fired Chandler earlier this year after Chandler — a prosecutor in the office for 17 months — made known his desire to run for district attorney’s post.
Chandler said the decision baffled him, and led him to campaign aggressively for his former boss’ job.
Two weeks before the election, four prosecutors in Carter’s office wrote a letter to the Clovis News Journal claiming Chandler was falsely advertising his experience.
But Chandler, a Clovis native and 1998 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University, said he has no hard feelings toward those prosecutors and plans on keeping them when he takes office.
“Those four attorneys had a Constitutional right to support any candidate that they please,” Chandler said. “I don’t have a problem with that. We’re going to be a great team; we’re going to unite and fight crime in the absolute best way possible.”
Carter said he plans on either going into private practice or finding another job at a state agency after his term as district attorney ends on Jan. 1.
He said he’s not opposed to the idea of working under Chandler, but noted there probably wouldn’t be room for him since the office is fully staffed.
If Carter goes into private practice, he said he would probably run for district attorney again in 2008. If he stays working for the state, he said he would probably retire by then.