By David Arkin: CNJ correspondent
A lifelong rancher from San Jon was holding a commanding lead over his challenger, a former Raton mayor, for the Democrat nod for Senate District 7 late Tuesday night.
About 81 percent of the precincts had been counted. Bob Frost, a 61-year-old San Jon rancher, was leading Fred Sparks of Raton by a 73-27 percent margin.
Frost had 2,396 votes to Sparks’ 877.
In Curry County, Frost had 79.3 percent or 165 votes while Sparks had 20.7 percent or 43 votes. In Quay County, Frost had 86.7 percent or 918 votes to Sparks’ 13.3 percent or 141 votes
It was expected that final tallies would not be reported until late Tuesday or early today because of problems with absentee ballots in Curry County.
The winner of the race will face Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, in the November election.
As Frost found out Tuesday night he held a huge lead over Sparks he said he was excited, but was anxious to find out the final tallies.
“I’m extremely pleased,” he said. “This is kind of overwhelming. Everything looks good right now. You just want to wait until you see all the numbers though. You don’t want to count your chickens before they are hatched.”
Frost said the support he received from voters was “amazing.”
“I don’t know how I can send out my appreciation to the voters,” he said. “I guess I can tell them how much this means by serving them.”
November’s election may be a tough one for Democrats. Frost has little political experience. Harden is establishing himself as an up-and-comer in the Santa Fe ranks.
“I expect a tough race with Mr. Harden,” Frost said. “Mr. Harden is going to be a tough man to deal with, but I like him a lot.”
Sparks, a 69-year-old former Raton mayor and current Raton City Commissioner, didn’t return repeated phone calls made to his home on Tuesday night.