A lawsuit seeking to remove state Rep. Sandra Jeff from the primary election ballot stalled Tuesday when the judge recused himself.

Jeff, a Democrat who lists her address as Crownpoint, filed 91 signatures to petition onto the primary election ballot. That was 13 more than required, but a resident of her district, Larry J. King, filed a suit alleging that more than half the signatures are invalid.

King claims that 17 of those who signed do not live in Jeff's district or are not registered Democrats. A host of other signatures also are being challenged in King's lawsuit, paid for by Conservation Voters New Mexico.

State District Judge Robert A. Aragon of Gallup was to hear the case, but he said he could not proceed because he knows people involved in it. The case will be rescheduled with a different judge, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

Jeff faces opposition in the Democratic primary from Charles Long and Doreen W. Johnson. No Republican is running in District 5, which includes parts of McKinley and San Juan counties.

Jeff has been at odds with fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives on certain issues, such as raising the statewide minimum wage.

Vice President Joe Biden in February even called Jeff to ask her to support a bill to raise the minimum wage. As it turned out, Jeff and and four Republican House members skipped the vote and the bill failed.

House Speaker Kenny Martinez then made in a rare public criticism of Jeff and the others who avoided the vote. Martinez said House members were obligated to vote on bills, not stand on the sidelines.

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