March 16, 2016

Sandra Jeff disqualified from the ballot

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Andy Lyman

Sandra Jeff

The Secretary of State disqualified former State Rep. Sandra Jeff from the ballot for the Democratic primary in Senate District 22.

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

Andy Lyman

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office confirmed via email Wednesday afternoon that Jeff was disqualified from the ballot “due to noncompliance with the Campaign Reporting Act.”

Amy Bailey, the general counsel of the department, later added more information.

“I need to review the file for specifics, but the noncompliance is associated with reports which were due in past filing periods and the fines associated with those past issues,” Bailey said in an email.

Jeff said in a phone interview on Wednesday that she was aware and was deciding whether or not to contest the disqualification. She described herself as undecided on whether or not to continue her run for State Senate.

“It doesn’t necessary mean that I’m off the ballot,” she said.

The Secretary of State’s office referred NM Political Report to a section of election law that says:

 If a candidate is notified by the proper filing officer that the candidate is not qualified to have the candidate’s name appear on the ballot, the candidate may challenge that decision by filing a petition with the district court within ten days of the notification.  The district court shall hear and render a decision on the matter within ten days after the petition is filed.  The decision of the district court may be appealed to the supreme court within five days after the decision is rendered.  The supreme court shall hear and render a decision on the appeal forthwith.

She said that she was considering a run for the Navajo Nation presidency or a run for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary against Ben Ray Lujan in two years.

“I don’t want to put in the four years and not fulfill those four years as a state Senator and let down my constituents,” Jeff said.

She said she has received a lot of contacts from those who want to donate to a potential congressional run.

Jeff is one of two candidates for Senate listed as “disqualified” on the Secretary of State’s office website. Six House candidates are also listed as “disqualified.”

Jeff is the most notable name on the list of those disqualified from the ballot.

If Jeff does not make it back on the ballot, this means one of the marquee primaries this June will not happen. Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo is running for reelection in the district.

In 2014, Jeff failed to make the Democratic primary ballot when running for reelection in District 5 after failing to collect enough valid signatures.

Conservation Voters New Mexico, an environmental group, led the challenge against Jeff’s petitions and successfully kept her off the primary ballot. Jeff then ran as a write-in candidate, but lost handily to Wonda Johnson, another Democrat, in the general election.

She faced opposition from Democrats, including an ethics complaint filed by the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

Jeff did not endear herself to many Democrats during her time in the state House, sometimes voting with Republicans on key issues.

One of the most prominent was a vote along with Republicans against the state budget in 2014. Her vote proved key, as the bill tied and so remained in the chamber. After changes, she later voted in favor of the legislation.

That same year, she also skipped out on a vote on increasing the minimum wage. Vice President Joe Biden himself urged her to vote for the constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage. Jeff denied that she spoke with Biden—until officials from his office confirmed that they spoke on the phone.

She later said that she agreed with raising the minimum wage, but not through a constitutional amendment.

There is no Republican candidate running in the district.

Update: Added section of election law after Secretary of State’s office referred us to the option of challenging.