Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times Police arrested Kevin and Tammy Howell Wednesday night on suspicion of vandalizing political campaign signs on Main Street.
Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times Police arrested Kevin and Tammy Howell Wednesday night on suspicion of vandalizing political campaign signs on Main Street. (Augusta Liddic)
FARMINGTON — Police arrested a Farmington couple for allegedly destroying campaign signs for President Barack Obama.

Kevin Howell, 43, and Tamera Howell, 52, were arrested Wednesday night. Kevin Howell was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated and damaging property and Tamera Howell was charged with drinking in public.

The Howells allegedly spray painted over an Obama campaign sign near the intersection of Pi-on Hills Boulevard and Main Street on Wednesday night, Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy said.

The San Juan County Democrat Party had recently repaired the same sign because someone had cut Obama's name out of the sign. Local Democrats said more than $3,000 of their party's campaign signs have been damaged since August, Gloria Lehmer, the co-manager for the party's headquarters, said.

"Many people have said "It's OK, it's just kids or teens'," Lehmer said. "It's not even young adults. And I'm not surprised by that."

A person flagged down police Wednesday night and reported that someone had damaged the campaign sign. Police made contact with the Howells nearby at about 8:30 p.m., Tracy said.

Kevin Howell, who was driving an off-highway vehicle, had bloodshot eyes, swayed and police could smell alcohol, Farmington police Lt. Bruce Holiday said.

A can of red spray paint was found nearby, he said.

It was the first time this year Farmington police arrested a person in connection to damaging a political campaign sign, Tracy said.

Police don't know if the Howells have damaged additional campaign signs, Holiday said.

Both the Howells are registered Republicans, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State website.

Pat Cordell, chairman of the San Juan County Republican Party, said the Howells have not volunteered to help with local campaigns and are not active within the local Republican party.

"I don't recognize their names and I'm glad they got caught," he said.

Cordell said he learned Thursday morning that a large sign for Gary McDaniel, the Republican candidate for magistrate judge, was destroyed near U.S. 550 south of Bloomfield.

Lehmer about 20 large Democratic signs and numerous small signs, valued at about $3,500, have been vandalized so far this campaign season.