A handful of surprises emerged on Tuesday’s filing deadline for candidates running for legislative seats in November.
Four House Republicans, including up-and-comer Rep. Kelly Fajardo of Los Lunas and eight-term Rep. James Strickler of Farmington, announced they won’t seek reelection.
Rep. Zach Cook of Ruidoso and Rep. Randy Crowder of Clovis also announced their retirement from the Roundhouse.
“We have some representatives who served us well, and they have great succession candidates on the ballot,” said Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences, who is vacating her seat to seek the Republican nomination for governor.
Five Democrats — House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe, Daymon Ely of Corrales and Deborah Armstrong, Karen Bash and Georgene Louis of Albuquerque — previously announced they would not seek reelection. Louis’ announcement came after she was arrested in Santa Fe on suspicion of aggravated drunken driving and other charges during the 30-day legislative session.
Another Democrat, Rep. Kay Bounkeua, who was appointed in August to fill the seat of Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, who resigned amid accusations of racketeering, fraud and money laundering, has said she will not run for the seat. And former
Rep. Brittney Barreras, also a Democrat, was halfway through a two-year term when she stepped down during the session to focus on her mental health.
Republican Alonzo Baldonado retired at the end of 2021 after serving in the Legislature since 2011.
In an interview before the 5 p.m. filing deadline, Egolf said it’s “natural” more Democrats are not running for reelection than Republicans because there are more of them in the chamber. Democrats hold a two-thirds majority.
Egolf said Fajardo’s seat will be highly competitive — “it always is” — and that her departure will make that district even more competitive than if she had decided to seek reelection.
“I don’t see any areas where Democrats are choosing not to seek reelection in highly competitive districts,” he said. “I feel very confident because of what we’ve been able to deliver for the people and because of the strong, organized campaigns that our candidates are going to run that we will maintain our majority and that I will be succeeded by a Democratic speaker of the House.”
Dow, however, predicted Republicans would increase their numbers.
Democrats hold a 45-24 advantage over Republicans. The lone independent, Phelps Anderson of Roswell, a former Republican who changed his party affiliation after joining with Democrats in voting to repeal an antiquated anti-abortion law, also will not seek reelection.
“We are energized,” Dow said, referring to Republicans. “The progressives continue to make promises that they can’t keep, and we’re going to see a red wave. We’re going to pick up House seats. We’re going to win statewide elections, and we’re going to make a course correction in the state that is urgent and necessary.”
In all, 14 incumbents — nine Democrats and five Republicans — will face opponents in the June primary.