February 25, 2020

The legislators (so far) who aren’t running for reelection

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

All 112 legislators are up for reelection this year. As of Monday, seven had already said they would not seek reelection.

More could decide not to run before the March 10 deadline for major party candidates to make the primary ballot. Write-in candidates can file to run on March 17.

Retiring House members

Rep. Abbas Akhil, New Mexico’s first Muslim legislator, announced last year that he would not seek a second term. Akhil represents House District 20, which includes areas in southeastern Albuquerque. He won a race against Republican incumbent Jim Dines in 2018 in the swing district. The race will again likely be a hotly contested race, especially since no incumbent will be running.

Rep. Tomás Salazar announced during the legislative session that he would not seek another term. Salazar represents House District 70, which includes areas of Santa Fe, Torrance and San Miguel counties. Salazar won election in 2012 in the northern New Mexico, defeating incumbent Richard Vigil in the Democratic primary after redistricting. The district is heavily Democratic and is likely to be decided in the Democratic primary; no Republican has sought the seat since 2010, before redistricting.

Rep. Joseph Sanchez announced last year that he was seeking the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced he would seek the open U.S. Senate seat. Sanchez is among the six Democrats seeking the party’s nomination; four Republicans are also running (one was disqualified). Sanchez won the 2018 race for House District 40, replacing Nick Salazar, the longest-serving House member at the time of his retirement. Salazar served in the state House from 1973 to 2018. The district spans across Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba and San Miguel counties

Rep. Paul Bandy is the lone Republican in the House to announce he will not run for reelection so far. Bandy has since won election to the Aztec Municipal School District Board of Education. Bandy represents the House District 3 in San Juan County. He won his first election to the seat unopposed in 2006 and replaced Republican Sandra L. Townsend. Bandy did not face any opponent until the 2018 general election, when Democrat Mary Schildmeyer challenged him; Bandy won easily with over 75 percent of the vote.

Longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Trujillo announced last October that he would not run for another term. Trujillo has represented the 25th district in Santa Fe since Gov. Bill Richardson appointed him to the seat in 2003 to replace Patsy Trujillo, who is not related to Jim Trujillo. Jim Trujillo is the chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, a key committee in the state House. The seat is another heavily Democratic seat, and Jim Trujillo has not faced an opponent since the 2004 Democratic primary. Jim Trujillo suffered a stroke in 2017 and missed a portion of the legislative session.

Retiring Senate members

So far, two members of the state Senate announced they would not seek reelection. State senators are elected every four years.

Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne announced last year that the 2020 legislative session would be his last, after more than two decades in office. The Albuquerque Republican has represented the eastern-Albuquerque district since 1997, after winning election in 1996 in an unusual fashion; he tied D. Scott Glasrud in the Republican primary with 1,170 votes after several reocounts and won his seat by a coin toss. He easily won the general election over the Democratic candidate and ran unopposed for all but one other term, when he defeated Democrat Cornelia W. Lange in the 2012 general election.

Like Payne, State Sen. John Sapien is no stranger to close elections. He also is not seeking another term. Sapien has won three general elections to Senate District 9 by a total of 480 votes; he also has faced opponents in the Democratic primary in both 2012 and 2016. Because of the narrow margin in the district that includes areas of Placitas, Corrales, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo, it will likely be a top target for Republicans as they seek to take control of the state Senate.