Battle for the state House will center on ten districts

New Mexico Telegram / June 4th, 2014

Roundhouse-seal-300x225Republicans are once again hopeful that they can take the state House. Democrats currently hold a 37-33 advantage in the state House.

The race to control the House will likely come down to ten key races. Not much has changed since Steve Terrell first wrote about the ten races, though in some races, there were competitive primaries.

The races are largely agreed upon which will be competitive. There are five held by Democrats and five held by Republicans.

Of the races, only one is an open seat, and that features a former representative from the district running. In all other cases, the incumbent was first elected in 2012 and is facing their first reelection challenge. Three of the races feature candidates who lost in 2012 hoping to regain the seat.

Here they are:

  • District 4 – Incumbent Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, defeated scandal-ridden Ray Begaye in 2012. She will face Harrison Todacheene in November in the Navajo-dominated district.
  • District 7 – Incumbent Kelly Fajardo, R-Belen, will face physician Teresa Smith de Cherif in the general election in November. Fajardo narrowly defeated Andrew Barreras in the 2012 general election who was attempting a comeback to a seat he lost previously. Fajardo ran after Republican David Chavez decided to run against Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez instead. Smith de Cherif defeated Barreras in the primary this year.
  • District 15 – Incumbent Emily Kane, D-Albuquerque, fought off not only a tough campaign against Republican Christopher Saucedo in 2012, but also court cases from the city of Albuquerque which say she is breaking city rules by holding public office in addition to being a city worker. Kane is an Albuquerque firefighter. Kane faces Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes, an attorney. Neither Kane nor Barnes faced any competition in the primary.
  • District 23 – Incumbent Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, was in one of the closest races of 2012 when he defeated Marci Blaze. Now attorney Catherine Begaye is hoping to defeat the former member of the Albuquerque Police Department. There were no competitive primaries in the district.
  • District 24 – Incumbent Elizabeth Thomson, D-Albuquerque, pulled what was seen as an upset against Conrad James in 2012. James is still considered a rising star in the state Republican Party and is coming back for a rematch against Thomson. Thomson is a physical therapist at Albuquerque Public Schools while James was appointed by Susana Martinez to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and works at Sandia National Labs. Both were unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.
  • District 36 – Incumbent Phillip Archuleta, D-Las Cruces, is facing former State Rep. Andy Nuñez. Archuleta defeated Nuñez in a three-way race in 2014. Nuñez was formerly a member of the Democratic caucus in the state House but changed to an independent. After coming in third place, Nuñez switched to the Republican Party and now hopes to retake the seat. Archuleta is retired and worked at the Labor Law Administration for the State of New Mexico Department of Labor. Nuñez is the mayor of Hatch, New Mexico. There was no competition in the primary for either candidate.
  • District 37 – Incumbent Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces, defeated Democrat Joanne Ferrary in 2012 in the closest election in the state — less than ten votes separated the two. Now Ferrary is back for another shot at McMillan. McMillan is a doctor while Ferrary is a former New Mexico Department of Transportation employee and anti-DWI advocate. Neither had an opponent in Tuesday’s primary.
  • District 43 – Incumbent Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, took the traditionally Republican district in 2012 over Jim Hall, who was appointed to the position by Martinez following the death of longtime representative Jeannette Wallace. Garcia Richard has had a target on her back since that election and will face Los Alamos County Council Chair Geoff Rodgers after he defeated Los Alamos County Councilor Vincent Chiravalle in Tuesday’s primary.
  • District 50 – Incumbent Vickie Perea, R-Belen, was appointed to the seat by Martinez following the death of representative Stephen Easley. Easley had easily won the district in 2012. Hoping to retake the district for Democrats is Matthew McQueen of Galisteo, a conservation attorney. Perea is a former Albuquerque city councilor. Neither faced competition in the primary.
  • District 53 – This seat doesn’t have an incumbent, as Rep. Nate Cote, D-Organ, announced he would not seek another term. The man he beat in 2012, and lost to in 2010, Rick Little is running to regain the seat. He will face Mariaelena Johnson in the general election. Neither faced any competition in the primary

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