Just in time for the end of the calendar year comes the weirdest story in New Mexico politics for 2012 — and that’s saying something.
The Santa Fe Reporter just posted that former Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 1st Congressional District Gary Smith has been arrested after detectives from the Albuquerque Police Department obtained surveillance video of the 65-year-old Smith allegedly slashing the tires of cars belonging to at least four people, including Smith’s primary opponent, Janice Arnold-Jones.
“I had a hunch it was him,” Arnold-Jones told the Reporter. “People tried to tell me it was the work of Democrats, but I knew that wasn’t the case. This isn’t the normal kind of political retribution you might expect. This is scary.”
The other victims have been identified as Smith’s former campaign manager, an interim GOP party chair and a man who had challenged Smith’s signature petitions.
The former campaign manager, Rhead Story, says he’s lost almost 40 tires since discovering the first set flattened in June. Arnold-Jones says she’s spent $1,500 replacing slashed tires on her vehicle while $2,200 was spent replacing slashing tires on her husband’s truck.
A former military intelligence officer, Smith finished a distant third to Arnold-Jones in last the March 2012 GOP pre-primary convention and was denied a spot on the June GOP primary ballot when a judge ruled he was 166 valid signatures short of qualifying.
Smith was irate after the decision, telling KOB-TV’s Stuart Dyson, “When you go to your own kind, your own brother, your own sister, and they stab you in the back repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly,” he said. “They tried to keep me out of this process and today they finally succeeded.”
The Santa Fe Reporter says APD plans to charge Smith with criminal damage to property over $1,000 — a fourth degree felony. Smith was arrested without incident Friday afternoon and invoked his right to remain silent and made no statement to police, APD said.
“We need to get him off the street and get him some help,” Arnold-Jones said.
Here’s the surveillance video that Arnold-Jones and her husband produced from a rooftop camera. The video was taken the week before Christmas:
And here’s video from the former campaign manager:
Hat tip to Peter St. Cyr for this second piece of video.