June 7, 2022

Torrez wins Democratic Party nomination for attorney general

Raúl Torrez won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, defeating Brian Colón.

Torrez is a former federal prosecutor whose resume includes attending both Harvard and Stanford universities. He currently serves as the Bernalillo County district attorney—a position he has held for five years—and that county provided him with a healthy advantage. As results came in, Torrez took 57.7 percent of the early and absentee voters in Bernalillo County. 

As the district attorney, Torrez announced last year a memorandum of understanding with the state Indian Affairs Division to form a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force subunit within the district attorney’s office.

Torrez also served as assistant attorney general in 2008 and 2009 where he handled cases of police misconduct and exploitation of children.

During his campaign, Torrez billed himself as a candidate who would stand up for women’s rights, including rights to an abortion, and would continue his past efforts to bring justice to families missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Torrez addressed his supporters. 

“This is a very serious time in the life of this country,” he said. “We face extraordinary challenges and we have to be prepared to stand up and fight for what we believe in, not just in the legislature, not just in Congress, but in the courtrooms of this country.”

He said the results show a recognition by the voters that experience matters, adding that voters are looking for someone who will defend reproductive rights, work to end gun violence and stand up for civil rights.

Colón stepped away from his current role as state auditor to run for attorney general. 

The current attorney general, Hector Balderas, is term limited and was unable to run for reelection for a third consecutive term.

Torrez will face Republican Jeremy Gay in the general election in November.

When Colón chose to run for attorney general rather than seeking reelection as state auditor, it left that race open for new Democratic Party candidates. Voters chose New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Chairman Joseph Maestas over the much younger Zachary Quintero, who has served as a state ombudsman.

In his role as a utility regulator, Maestas has led the efforts to gather information about potential electricity shortages related to the supply chain issues.

If Libertarian Robert Jason Vaillancourt receives enough write-in votes, he will face Maestas in the general election. 

Meanwhile, Laura Montoya, a former Sandoval County treasurer, received the party’s nomination for state treasurer. She ran against Heather Benavidez, who currently serves as chief of staff for the state treasurer’s office.

Montoya could be the first woman to serve as New Mexico’s state treasurer, depending on the outcome of the general election where she will face Republican candidate Harry Montoya.