April 1, 2016

Jeff wants back on primary ballot

Andy Lyman

Sandra Jeff

A former state Representative is challenging her disqualification from the ballot for a state Senate primary.

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

Andy Lyman

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

Sandra Jeff will move forward with her attempt to challenge Sen. Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo in the Democratic primary for Senate District 22.

Jeff is a former state representative who lost her position after failing to make the primary ballot for reelection to her state House seat in 2014.

Two weeks ago, Jeff told NM Political Report she wasn’t sure if she wanted to challenge the disqualification. Jeff said she would consider running for Navajo Nation President or challenging U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the Democratic primary.

Those will have to take a backseat, as Jeff retained State Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, as her attorney to challenge the disqualification, over failure to pay $1,000 in fines from past races.

Cook recently represented Republican candidate Jeremy Tremko on the ballot in the face of a challenge from State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Jeff says that, after she was notified last year that she owed a penalty, she asked for arbitration, but none was scheduled. In January, Jeff says, Winter’s office proposed a settlement under which she would pay $1,000, close out her campaign account and agree to go to training on the Campaign Finance Reporting Act if she ever were to run again.

Jeff called the proposed agreement “oppressive” and outside the secretary of state’s authority, and says her due process rights were violated. She also claims she tried to pay the fine when she filed for the Senate seat, but her payment was rejected.

Jeff, who is Navajo, says Winter has acted illegally “to prevent a Native American from being a candidate” in the June 7 primary.

Conservation Voters New Mexico, an environmental group, led the challenge against Jeff’s petitions and successfully kept her off the primary ballot in 2014. Jeff then ran as a write-in candidate, but lost to Wonda Johnson, another Democrat, in the general election.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico sided with Johnson and even filed an ethics complaint against Jeff.

One reason could be that Jeff voted alongside Republicans on some key issues while in the House.

Perhaps the most prominent was a vote along with Republicans against the state budget in 2014. In a narrowly divided chamber thanks to missing Democrats, 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.