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Progressives take the lead in northern NM

Susan Herrera watches election results with friends during a watch party at the Blue Heron Brewery in Española on Tuesday night. Herrera appeared to have knocked off longterm state Rep. Debbie Rodella in House District 41. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Challengers who ran as progressives against northern New Mexico incumbents Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo appeared to be on their way to victories late Tuesday night in pair of bitterly contested Democratic primary races for state House of Representatives seats.

Andrea Romero, an ostrich farmer and former executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, had accumulated more than 55 percent of the vote against incumbent and national lab scientist Carl Trujillo — who is facing sexual harassment allegations by a Roundhouse lobbyist — in northern Santa Fe County’s District 46 in incomplete but substantial returns.

Romero has been plagued by her own controversy over spending public dollars for booze and baseball tickets for Coalition events. Her contract to run the organization expired amid the controversy.

Rodella, in office for 25 years, was losing to Susan Herrera, former executive director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, in District 41, centered around Española in Rio Arriba County, and also including parts of Santa Fe and Taos County. Herrera had 56 percent of the vote.

Andrea Romero

Both challengers took liberal stances on issues such as abortion rights and gun control, and maintained that the two incumbents were too conservative for their heavily Democratic districts.

Romero said she received a phone call from House Speaker Brian Egolf late in the evening saying things were looking good for her.

“It’s about unity,” she said. “We have a very big district. We stood up for the things we believe in in what is a richly Democratic district.” She said Trujillo’s position on abortion rights, and the money from big oil and gas that went to him were not in tune with Democratic Party values. Trujillo maintained his positions were misrepresented.

“Now it’s about coming together,” Romero said. The Democratic primary winners in Districts 46 and 41 face no opposition in the November general election.

In other northern New Mexico Democratic House races, Los Alamos County councilor and former attorney with Los Alamos National Laboratory Christine Chandler had 53 percent of the vote against Peter Sheehey, her colleague on the council and a retired lab physicist, in District 43. The winner faces off against Republican Lisa Shin in the November general election.

In a three-way race in District 40, Joseph Sanchez, of Alcalde, an electrical engineer and former director of the Jemez Mountains Electrical Cooperative, was outpacing Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association and a Mora County commissioner, and Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo. Sanchez had 49 percent of the votes counted.

In other races:

– Adan Mendoza had pulled away from the pack in the four-way race for Santa Fe County sheriff. He had 43 percent to 36 percent for Linda Ortiz. Leonard Romero and Manuel Anaya were far back.

– In a state District Court judge race in the 1st Judicial District, Maria Sanchez-Gagne appeared to have knocked off incumbent Greg Shaffer, who was appointed to the Division II bench by Gov. Susana Martinez in October. Gagne-Sanchez had 34 percent to 31 percent for Shaffer, with Donna Bevacqua-Young and Jerry Archuleta further back.

– Jason Lidyard, who was appointed to Division V District Court judgeship in the First Judicial District by the governor, was prevailing against Matthew Jackson, earning 60 percent of the votes

– Incumbent David Segura was headed for victory over Jerry Gonzales in the race for Division 1 magistrate judge in Santa Fe County. He had about 78 percent of votes counted by 10 p.m. John Rysanek, a lawyer, was leading over former State Police officer Sam Sena in the Division 3 magistrate judge race. Rysanek had about 53 percent.

– In the race for Santa Fe County commissioner in District 3, Santa Fe school board member Rudy Garcia was well ahead of Donald Reece and Filandro Anaya, both from the southern part of the county. Garcia had 59 percent of the vote.

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