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July 22, 2024


A full slate of Senate primaries after filing day


Candidates for state senate filed paperwork Tuesday to run in their parties’ primaries later this year.

The filings included several contested primaries, including two Republican members of the state House running against incumbents in the state Senate and other open seat races getting multiple candidates from each party.

State Senators are only up for election every four years.

Republican incumbents facing challengers in June

State Rep. David Gallegos filed paperwork to run for Senate in District 41 in southeastern New Mexico against incumbent Gregg Fulfer in the Republican primary. Then-Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Fulfer to the seat to replace Carroll Leavell, who passed away while in office in 2018. Gallegos has represented House District 61 since winning election in 2012. No Democrat filed in the deep-red district.

And in Senate District 19, largely in the East Mountains area, State Rep. Gregg Schmedes filed paperwork to run against James White in the Republican primary. White was appointed to the seat to replace Repulbican Sue Beffort shortly before the 2016 election, then won a four-way Republican primary before easily winning the 2016 general election. Schmedes narrowly won election in House District 22 in 2018. Democrat Claudia Risner and Libertrian John Douglas McDivitt also filed to run for the Senate seat.

William Burt of Senate District 33 will face a challenge in the Republican primary from Roswell business owner Chris Hensley. Democrat Denise A Lang-Browne of La Luz also filed to run for the seat.

Conservative Democrats face challenges

Every Senate Democrat who remains in the chamber and voted against repealing New Mexico’s ban on abortions, which is currently not enforced because of the federal Roe v. Wade decision, will face at least one challenger in the primary.

  • In Senate District 4 which includes portions of San Juan, McKinley and Cibola counties including portions of the Navajo Nation, George Munoz will face Noreen Ann Kelly in the Democratic primary. Kelly advocated for the repeal in 2019. Republicans Samuel S. Gracia Jr. of Milan and Angela Ruth Olive of Gallup also filed to run.
  • In Senate District 5, Richard Martinez will face Rio Arriba County commissioner Leo Jaramillo. Libertarian Lee G. Weinland of Los Alamos and Republican Diamantina Prado Storment of Chama also filed to run in the northern New Mexico district.
  • In Senate District 8, incumbent Pete Campos will face nurse-midwife Connie Jimenez Trujillo in the Democratic primary. Both are from Las Vegas. No Republican filed in the district.
  • In Senate District 28 in southwestern New Mexico, incumbent Gabe Ramos faces a primary challenge from educator and school psychologist Siah Correa Hemphill. Propane company owner James Williams is the only Republican to file in the district.
  • In Senate District 30, Clemente Sanchez will face retired teacher Pamela Cordova in the Democratic primary. Republicans Joshua Sanchez, a contractor, and Kelly Kendra Noble of Zuni filed to run for the seat as well.
  • In Senate District 35, which includes the bootheel of New Mexico up to Sierra County, Senate Finance Committee chairman John Arthur Smith will face a primary challenge from special education teacher Neomi Martinez-Parra. Truth or Consequences School board member Crystal Diamond is the lone Republican to file to run for the seat.
  • In Senate District 38 in Las Cruces, Senate President Pro Tem will face two Democratic challengers, Direct Therapy Services CEO Tracy Perry and Las Cruces Green Chamber President and CEO Carrie Hamblen. Republican Charles Wendler also filed to run.

Carlos Cisneros, who also voted against the repeal, passed away last year and was replaced by Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, who faces no other candidates.

Other Democrats also face challengers.

Shannon Pinto, who replaced her grandfather John Pinto after he died last year, will face former Navajo Nation presidential candidate Dineh Benally and Shawn Nelson of Gamerco in the Democratic primary. Republican Arthur Pierce Allison, the former head of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, also filed to run for the seat.

Sen. Mimi Stewart, a progressive Democrat, faces a familiar challenger in the primary: former State Sen. Shannon Robinson. Since losing his seat in the 2008 primary to Tim Keller, Robinson ran in 2012 as a Republican, losing to Keller, then again as a Democrat in 2016, losing to Stewart (who replaced Keller when he won election as State Auditor). Republican Rodney Deskin also filed in the Albuquerque district.

Open seats

Senate District 9, a swing district currently represented by John Sapien, will face a primary on each side. Former State Rep. Ben Rodefer, who lost to Sapien in the 2008 Democratic primary, will face Village of Corrales Councilor Kevin Lucero, Jodilynn Ortiz of Placitas and Brenda Grace McKenna of Corrales in the Democratic primary. Tania Artletha Dennis of Corrales will face Placitas businessman John Clark and  Bridget Condon of Sandoval Economic Alliance in the Republican primary.

The largest field will be in Senate District 20, where Sen. Bill Payne announced last year that he would not seek another term. Four Democrats and two Republicans filed to run to replace Payne in the Albuquerque district.

Health care CEO Martin Hickey, location manager Rebecca “Puck” Stair, former State Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena and retired teacher Nancy Savage will each seek the Democrat nomination. Former executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico Karin Foster and John Morton of Albuquerque filed to run for the Republican nomination.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Joseph Cervantes will also face multiple challengers for the Las Cruces seat in Senate District 31. Special operations coordinator for Community Action Agency Melissa Ontiveros and Arturo Terrazas of Sunland Park each filed to run for the Democratic nomination. John Thomas Roberts of Anthony filed as a Republican.

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