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New Mexico Telegram » Elections, Featured, New Mexico Senate, Roundhouse » Primary ballots set — rundown of competitive primaries in the Senate

Primary ballots set — rundown of competitive primaries in the Senate

Tuesday was filing day for many legislative seats including those for state House and state Senate. With a large amount of legislators retiring and districts moving due to redistricting, 2012 has the potential to be a year of massive change in the New Mexico legislature.

And some of that change will come in the June 5 primary.

Open seats are normally rare but almost common this year — 19 legislators left their seat to either retire or run for another office, the most in more than two decades according to Barry Massey of the Associated Press. This attracted a number candidates looking to break into the state legislature without facing an incumbent. In a few instances, incumbent legislators were forced to run against each other because of redistricting.

Here is a quick rundown of the competitive primaries in the state Senate. I will have the competitive primaries in the House tomorrow afternoon or evening. As you can see, there are a LOT of candidates running for office.

And before you ask, this does not count races where there is one Democrat and one Republcian candidate, such as District 29 where state Rep. David Chavez is taking on Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. That will be another day.

State Senate

District 3 — Long-serving John Pinto, a former Navajo Codetalker, will face Matthew Tso in the Democratic primary. Tso has some baggage that could hold him back.

District 4 — Incumbent George Muñoz drew two primary challengers for his Senate seat in western New Mexico. There are no Republican candidates, so the winner of the primary will be headed to Santa Fe come January barring an independent entering the race.

District 5 — Incumbent Richard Martinez gets a primary challenger in the form of Rio Arriba county commissioner Alfredo Montoya. Even if Montoya loses, he will keep his spot as county commissioner, as his term runs through 2014. There is no Republican running for the seat in the heavily Democratic area.

District 7 — Angie Spears getting the go ahead from Susana Martinez wasn’t enough to stop two other candidates from jumping into the open seat. Rancher John Patrick “Pat” Woods and Clovis businessman Mark Myers are also aiming for the seat Clinton Harden left. There are no Democratic candidates.

District 8 — In perhaps the marquee primary in the Senate, State Rep. Thomas Garcia is aiming for the Senate after he was paired with longtime Representative Nick Salazar. This puts him against incumbent state Senator Pete Campos. The winner will run unopposed in November.

District 9 — The rare seat where there are multiple challeners in both parties. Former Representative Ben Rodefer of Corrales will take on incumbent Senator John Sapien, also of Corrales, in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile the man who beat Rodefer in the House race in 2010, Rep. David Doyle of Albuquerque, will take on Placitas psychiatrist Charles Mellon in the Republican primary. Mellon has sought to create a new county that he believes would better serve Placitas.

District 13 — Another open seat and another full slate. This one will pit Rep. Bill O’Neill, environmentalist Laura Sanchez, former state Senate candidate Carlos Cordova and former Albuquerque city council candidate Chris Catechis against each other for the right to replace retiring Dede Feldman. (Ed – updated with previously omitted name of Carlos Cordova)

District 14 — With Sen. Eric Griego leaving this Albuquerque seat to run for Congress, four Democrats have lined up to replace him. One is James Taylor, the man Griego beat to become Senator. Taylor is joined by Cecelia Romero Tkach, who he beat in the 2004 Democratic primary, state Rep. Eleanor Chavez and businessman Michael Padilla. Padilla has perhaps the most baggage as he was accused of running a hostile work environment while running Albuquerque’s 911 call center.

District 18 — Oil and gas industry advocate Gerges Scott, who runs a New Mexico energy group funded by the American Petroleum Institute, will take on Albuquerque attorney Lisa Torraco. Torraco previously ran for District Attorney in Bernalillo County. The winner of the Republican primary will replace retiring Sen. Mark Boitano, as no Democratic candidate filed.

District 21 — Incumbent Democratic Senator Lisa Curtis, who was appointed to replace Clint Harden Kent Cravens when he left to lobby for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, has a free ride int he primary — but plenty of Republicans want the seat as well. Attorney Robert M Doughty III, New Mexico Dental Association (and former UNM football player) Mark Moores and Nancy P Cooper will look to take on Curtis in the general election in November. (Ed. Apologies for saying it was Harden when it was Cravens who left the Senate to lobby. Thanks to commenters for catching it.)

District 22 — Incumbent Lynda Lovejoy gets three candidates running against her this year. Joshua Madalena of Jemez Pueblo, former secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Benny Shendo Jr. and Anthony N. Begay of Gallup will attempt to unseat the incumbent.

District 26 — Sen. Bernadette Sanchez has three primary challengers in her bid to keep District 26. Equality New Mexico President Jacob Candelaria, Steve D. Gallegos (a former Albuquerque city councilor and Bernalillo county commissioner) and Carlos Jose Villanueva will try to take out the incumbent.

District 30 — David Ulibarri also has three Democrats, and one Republican, attempting to unseat him. General Counsel for the Pueblo of Tesuque Maxine Velasquez, Director of the New Mexico State University – Small Business Development Center in Grants Clemente Sanchez and Randolph Collins will go against the incumbent for the chance to take on Republican challenger former Albuquerque city councilor Vickie Perea.

District 31 — The seat that Cynthia Nava left will be the site of a primary battle between state Rep. Joseph Cervantes and former Sunland Park mayor Jesus Ruben Segura. The winner will take on commercial realtor Brett C. Preston in the general election.

District 32 — While State Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings doesn’t have any Democratic opposition, he does have two Republican candidates vying to get a shot at his seat. But Roswell fire chief Chad Hammill and former longshot 2nd congressional district candidate Cliff Pirtle will face each other in June to take on the conservative Democrat in November.

District 33 — Stephanie Dubois, a Democratic activist, has no competition. But the big battle is between incumbent Senators William Burt and Rod Adair. The two were drawn into the same district on this round of redistricting and the winner will likely head back to Santa Fe in January. Adair likely has the upper hand, as Burt was appointed by Gov. Martinez to replace Dianna Duran when Duran became Secretary of State.

District 34 — Incumbent state Sen. Vernon Asbill stepped aside and Western Bank president Sarah Dion Kidd-Johnson and Alamogordo city commissioner Ron Griggs will vie for the Republican nomination and likely Senate seat. Activist Ellen Wedum is the Democratic candidate in the race. Wedem previous ran for state House three times.

District 35 — Sen. John Arthur Smith, chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, drew a Democratic opponent in Larry Martinez of Lordsburg. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Dona Ana County Republican Party chair Russell Allen in the general election.

District 36 — Incumbent SEn. Mary Jane Garcia gets a challenger in the primary and will face former Doña Ana County Commissioner Oscar Vazsquez Butler. The winner will face the Republican, New Mexico state Senate analyst Lee S. Cotter in November. Garcia defeated Cotter in 2008.

District 39 — Incumbent Phil Griego will face former Santa Fe County Commissioner Jack Sullivan and Nicole Sullivan Castellano of Santa Fe in the primary. There is no Republican candidate in the district. (Ed. Put Nicole Sullivan instead of Nicole Castellano)

That’s it. Did I miss something? Mess up some of the information on one of the candidates? Feel free to comment or email me at

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

Filed under: Elections, Featured, New Mexico Senate, Roundhouse

3 Responses to "Primary ballots set — rundown of competitive primaries in the Senate"

  1. Karen says:

    In District 21, the senator that left was Kent Cravens, not Clint Harden.

  2. Pat says:

    I think in the Senate, incumbent Democratic Senator Lisa Curtis was appointed to replace Kent Craves, not Clint Harden, when Cravens left to lobby for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

  3. What about District 24 – a woman by name of Thompson — she is healthcare worker?