SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Vickie Perea of Los Lunas was named Friday by GOP Gov. Susana Martinez to fill a vacancy in the Legislature that had been held by a Democrat.
Perea succeeds Democrat Stephen Easley of Santa Fe, who died in August.
The House Democratic majority will shrink to 37-33 because of the governor’s appointment.
Perea, a former Democrat who switched parties in 2004, is “a passionate public servant who will bring a fresh voice to the Legislature,” Martinez said.
“She is capable of working across party lines and is well-qualified to help craft public policy that will benefit New Mexico’s economy, schools, and families,” Martinez said.
Perea will serve through next year, when the seat is up for election.
Perea ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate last year and lost a bid for secretary of state in 2008.
She is a retired city government worker and served on the Albuquerque city council in 1993-1997.
The governor made her appointment from three people nominated by county commissions in Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia counties, which make up the district.
The other nominees were Torrance County Commission chairman LeRoy Candelaria, a Republican, and Santa Fe Democrat Ann Jenkins.
In 2011, the Martinez administration was unhappy when the governor had no choice but to appoint an Albuquerque Democrat to a vacant Senate seat that had been held by a Republican.
The Bernalillo and Sandoval county commission recommended only one name — Lisa Curtis, a trial lawyer, — to the governor to replace Kent Cravens, who resigned to take a job with an oil and natural gas industry trade association.
Republicans regained the Senate seat by defeating Curtis in last year’s elections. Democrats hold a 25-17 advantage in the Senate.