Ex-legislators file to return to New Mexico House

March 11, 2014 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Six former legislators filed Tuesday as candidates for the New Mexico House, setting up rematches from the 2012 primary and general elections.

All 70 House seats are up for election this year and 10 incumbents — five Democrats and five Republicans — aren’t seeking re-election.

In 2012, a dozen House members voluntarily left or sought other offices.

This year’s legislative races will determine whether Democrats retain majority control of the House. Currently there are 37 Democrats and 33 Republicans in the chamber.

Republicans haven’t held a majority of House seats since the 1953-1954 Legislature, after the GOP made gains in the 1952 elections when Dwight Eisenhower easily won the presidential race over Democrat Adlai Stevenson.

New Mexico’s state senators aren’t up for election until 2016.

According to candidate [auth] filings reported by the secretary of state’s office, former Rep. Conrad James, an Albuquerque Republican, filed to run for a seat he lost in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Thomson. She and James are unopposed in their party primaries in June.

Former Rep. Richard Vigil, a Ribera Democrat, is challenging incumbent Democrat Tomas Salazar of Las Vegas, who defeated Vigil in the party’s primary two years ago.

Former Rep. Bengie Regensberg, a Cleveland Democrat, is running against Rep. Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh. Salazar, the longest-serving House member, defeated Regensberg and another challenger in the Democratic primary in 2012.

Regensberg served in the House in 2001-2005, representing another House district that covered parts of northeastern New Mexico. He challenged Salazar two years ago after the boundaries of House districts were redrawn.

Former Rep. Andrew Barreras of Tome is among two Democrats seeking to challenge Republican incumbent Kelly Fajardo of Belen. She defeated Barreras two years ago in the general election. Barreras served in the House from 2007 to 2010, when he lost re-election. Fajardo won the seat in 2012 after the GOP incumbent stepped down to run for another office.

Former Rep. Ricky Little, a Chaparral Republican, is seeking to regain the seat he lost two years ago to Democrat Nathan Cote, who didn’t seek re-election this year. Little and a Democratic candidate are unopposed in the June primary election.

Former Rep. Andy Nunez of Hatch is running for his former legislative seat in southern New Mexico but he’s a Republican this time. Nunez served in the House as a Democrat and later as an independent before losing re-election in 2012 in a three-way general election race to Democrat Phillip Archuleta of Las Cruces. Nunez and Archuleta are unopposed in their primaries.

In Public Regulation Commission races, Republican incumbent Ben Hall of Ruidoso faces three Democratic challengers, including ex-Commissioner Sandy Jones of Williamsburg. Jones served four years on the commission, which regulates utilities, and ran unsuccessfully for state land commissioner in 2010.

Democratic Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar of Albuquerque has two primary election opponents, including ex-Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy of Crownpoint, in a district that covers northwestern New Mexico. Lovejoy, a former state legislator, served on the five-member regulatory agency from 1999 through 2006.

Republican Commissioner Pat Lyons is unopposed for re-election to a four-year term in District 2, which covers eastern New Mexico.

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