A Republican political rivalry in New Mexico's first congressional district took a darker twist last week when Gary Smith, a primary candidate for the seat, was arrested under suspicion that he'd slashed his former opponent's car tires.
Janice Arnold-Jones became the Republican nominee for the seat earlier this year after mounting a lawsuit against Smith that eventually led to his disqualification. She went on to lose the election to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.
On December 20, Arnold-Jones found the tires of her cars slashed, shortly after other individuals connected with the campaign had also reported having their tires punctured in a similar fashion. When Arnold-Jones viewed security camera footage of the incident, she saw a man she suspected was Smith using an ice pick to destroy her property.
New Mexico's KOB reports that Albuquerque police Detective Lorenzo Garcia said he was able to verify Arnold-Jones' suspicion, and on Friday Smith was arrested and taken to jail on a felony charge of criminal damage to property. He's since posted bond.
Smith has denied having anything to do with the string of tire-slashings, but Detective Garcia told New Mexico Watchdog.org that he "has no doubt” Smith is the man seen in the surveillance video.
And Smith could be looking at more charges. At least three other people linked to Arnold-Jones and Smith have reported having their tires slashed. Rhead Story, Smith’s former campaign manager, claims he's had at least 40 tires slashed, according to New Mexico Watchdog. If Smith is implicated in those incidents as well, he could also face charges of stalking, criminal trespass and harassment.