SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Several [auth] former lawmakers, including one who switched political parties, filed for election Tuesday seeking to reclaim their seats in the Legislature.
Two former state senators from Albuquerque — Shannon Robinson and H. Diane Snyder — set up rematches of their unsuccessful 2008 races.
Robinson switched parties and filed as a Republican against Democratic Sen. Tim Keller, who defeated him in a primary election four years ago. Robinson, a lawyer, had served in the Senate since 1989.
“Everybody loves a rematch,” Robinson said in an interview.
He attributes his loss to Keller because of opposition from progressive Democrats.
“The people who are going to decide this race are going to be the long-term Democrats who have been there for years and know what I fought for, and the independents,” said Robinson.
Snyder is running against Sen. Tim Eichenberg, a Democrat who defeated her in the general election four years ago.
Former Sen. James Taylor of Albuquerque was among several Democrats filing for a Senate seat once held by Taylor. Also in the primary race is Rep. Eleanor Chavez. The seat is vacant because Democratic incumbent Eric Griego, who defeated Taylor in the party’s primary in 2008, is running for Congress.
In the House, Democrat Nate Cote of Las Cruces is challenging Republican Rep. Rick Little of Chaparral, who defeated him in 2010. Cote served in the House in 2007-2010.
Tuesday was the deadline for candidates for the Legislature, Public Regulation Commission and certain other offices to file for election.
Nineteen incumbent legislators — 12 in the House and seven in the Senate — are retiring or running for other offices, according to preliminary information from the secretary of state’s office and county clerks. That’s the most since 1992, when 18 incumbents voluntarily left or sought other offices.
Former one-term House member Benjamin Rodefer is trying for a political comeback. He challenged Sen. John Sapien in the Democratic primary for an Albuquerque area seat. Both are from Corrales. First-term Rep. David Doyle of Albuquerque is among two Republicans who are running. Rodefer lost his re-election bid two years ago. Sapien has served in the Senate since 2009. Senators serve four-year terms.
The fallout of redistricting could be seen in the lineup of legislative candidates.
Democrat Jeff Steinborn is vying to return to the House in a different district in the Las Cruces area. He’s running against Democratic Rep. Antonio Lujan. Steinborn served two terms, losing re-election in 2010. However, redistricting moved him into the same district as Lujan, who’s been in the House since 2003.
Longtime Democratic state Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas drew an opponent in this year’s primary election — Democratic state Rep. Thomas Garcia of Ocate. Garcia’s House district in north-central New Mexico was carved up in redistricting this year, leaving him the choice of campaigning against a fellow Democratic incumbent in the House or in the Senate.
Campos has served in the Senate since 1991, and Garcia has been a member of the House since 2007.
Two Republicans from Roswell, Reps. Dennis Kintigh and Bob Wooley are pitted against one another in the primary because of redistricting. Their southeastern New Mexico districts were merged to provide for a new district in fast-growing portions of the Albuquerque metropolitan area.
Before the filing deadline, 17 legislative incumbents had announced they weren’t coming back for another term. That number grew on Tuesday with Garcia deciding to run for the Senate. Rep. Shirley Tyler, a Lovington Republican, said she was retiring to spend more time with her husband, who she married last year in the Capitol. Tyler has served in the House since 2007.
All 112 seats in the House and Senate are on the ballot this year.
Democrats hold majorities in the House and Senate, and the party’s legislative strength has served as a roadblock for some of the initiatives promoted by first-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Republicans gained eight House seats in the 2010 elections, and the GOP hopes it can pick up enough seats this year to claim a majority in the House for the first time since the early 1950s. Democrats cling to a narrow 36-33 advantage in the House and there’s one independent unaffiliated with either party. Democrats outnumber Republicans 28-14 in the Senate.
There are two open PRC seats up for election.
Democratic Rep. Al Park is among three Democrats and one Republican seeking the Albuquerque-area District 1 position on the commission, which regulates utilities, telecommunications and insurance.
Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza and Santa Fe County Commissioner Virginia Vigil were among four Democrats running in District 3 in north-central New Mexico. The heavily Democratic district includes Santa Fe, Chama and Taos and extends south into the city of Rio Rancho and parts of the west side of Albuquerque.