February 23, 2016

Here are the legislators who are NOT running for reelection

Now that the legislative session is over and the dust is—mostly—settled, legislators now are turn their focus to the upcoming elections.California 2008 Primary Ballot

While some candidates have announced their intention to take over the veterans that called it quits this year, the official count won’t be until after the deadline to file on March 8.

Here’s who we know for sure is leaving this year, and a couple no one is sure about.

House of Representatives

District 24 – Rep. Conrad James, R-Albuquerque confirmed last year on social media that he would not run for reelection. He later endorsed Dr. Christina Hall, an Albuquerque chiropractor, as his replacement.

“I fully support Christina Hall as my replacement. I have no doubt that she will be a great asset to the people of House District 24 and an extraordinary addition to the New Mexico Legislature,” James said.

Hall works for Elite Healthcare, a regional healthcare provider. Her biography from Elite’s website lists her interests as “running for public office,” “hot air ballooning” and “all things New Mexico.” Hall was also named Miss New Mexico in 2006.

Former State Rep. Liz Thomson, a Democrat, intends to run for the seat she lost to James in 2014.

James originally lost against Thomson in the 2012 general election before was appointed to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents in 2013 by Gov. Susana Martinez. James would go on to defeat Thomson in her reelection bid in 2014.

District 32 – Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming, was one of a handful of lawmakers honored during the 2016 legislative session. Irwin, a member of the House since 1999, would at times vote along with Republicans on things like marijuana legalization and “right-to-work” legislation.

District 35 – Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, announced his intentions the change his title from Representative to Senator last October. Steinborn, an advocate for ethics reform and transparency in government announced that he would run for Senate in District 36, currently held by Republican Lee Cotter. Cotter successfully ran for his spot in 2012, unseating Mary Jane Garcia from the spot she held for more than two decades.

District 38 – Another long-serving House member leaving this year is Rep. Dianne Hamilton, R-Silver City. Hamilton pushed for voter ID legislation a number of times during her 20 years in office. She announced that she would not run for another term on the last day of the legislative session. Hamilton suffered from health problems during the last two legislative sessions and missed time in the Roundhouse because of the health issues.

District  48 – Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, announced last year that 2016 would be his last year serving as a state representative after 19 years. In 2015, Varela missed a significant portion of the legislative session due to an infection that resulted in the amputation of some of his toes. Varela is best known for his expertise in budget issues. Last year, after he announced he would not run for another term, Varela endorsed his son Jeff to take over his House seat.

District 59 – Like Jeff Steinborn, Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, is leaving her spot to run for another elected position. Espinoza announced during the legislative session that she was collecting signatures to get on the ballot to run for Secretary of State. Espinoza is the only Republican candidate running for Secretary of State.

Espinoza’s campaign manager is long-time Republican Senator and former Secretary of State employee Rod Adair. Espinoza received notable attention when she called for the banning of some books pertaining to Latino history for being racist and inappropriate for children. She also accused Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, of saying Espinoza was “carrying the water for the Mexican on the fourth floor,” referring to Gov. Susana Martinez.

District 69 – Former Speaker of the House Ken Martinez, D-Gallup, received his fair share of farewells and well-wishes from his colleagues during the 2016 legislative session. After serving 16 years in the House, Martinez announced his plans for resignation last year in order to take a position as attorney for Bernalillo County. Martinez served as a majority floor leader before following his father’s footsteps into the position of Speaker.


District 19 – The only confirmed Senator not running for reelection is Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park. She, like departing Representatives, received many kind words from her colleagues, including Lt. Gov. John Sanchez. Wilson has been in the Senate since 1997.


District 10 – Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, told NM Political Report he still hadn’t decided on a run for reelection just four days after the session ended.

“I’m going to sit down with my wife and figure it out,” Ryan said.

District 41 – As the session ended Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen gave a nostalgic speech which made some people question whether he was running again. Sanchez said he was indeed running again but had Sen.Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, in mind because the Republican missed the last day while undergoing treatment for cancer. Leavell has not officially announced if he will run for another term or not, though most believe he will not.

Update: This piece was edited after publication for tone and clarity.