In GOPAC’s final edition of “Top Races to Watch” before Election Day 2012, we highlight another important state in which Republicans are fighting to flip majority control of a state chamber: New Mexico.
Six Republican candidates running for the State House of Representatives will play a key role over the next six days as Republicans look to overturn the narrow 36-33-1 Democratic majority to the GOP.
Except for two years in the 1950’s, Democrats have controlled both chambers of the State Legislature for eighty years. Republicans need to gain just three seats for a total of 35 for the majority. With the court adopting Republican Governor Susana Martinez’s plan for redistricting this year, the GOP has picked up eight seats and out-recruited Democrats in a number of these districts. Republicans also benefit from Governor Martinez’s popularity in the state, particularly in swing districts.
Although New Mexico’s 6.4% unemployment has remained below the national unemployment level, the state’s residents know they can and must do better. In order to create jobs equal to New Mexico’s potential, small businesses need to be freed from high taxes and excessive regulations — exactly what the GOP has set out to do. Republican candidates are also running on a platform to repeal the state law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, as well as restoring responsibility and ethics to Santa Fe.
Democrats are running a tough game in order to maintain control of both the House and Senate. But with a group of strong candidates — and strong values — Republicans believe 2012 is the year they will take control of the House and help create positive change for New Mexicans. Here’s a look at six key Republican candidates who will help carry the GOP to victory on November 6th:
House District 4: Sharon Clahchischilliage (R) vs Rep. Ray Begaye (D)
- House District 4: San Juan County, Four Corners area
- Voter make-up: Lean Democrat
- GOP Challenger
The former Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office, Republican Sharon Clahchischilliage, is running for the 4th House District to unseat seven-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Ray Begaye.
Even though this is typically a Democrat-leaning district, here in the Four Corners area of the state both Governor Martinez and George W. Bush won by a large margin. Republicans stand a great opportunity of picking up a seat, complemented by the fact that Rep. Begaye has been plagued by controversy and corruption through the election.
Clahchischilliage is running to restore New Mexicans’ confidence in government by forming an accountable government that works hand in hand with the Navajo community.
A leader in the Navajo community, Sharon has an extended record of public service and leadership. She has served as a special education teacher in New Mexico, and prior to her tenure as Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office, she was nominated in 2001 by President George W. Bush as Commissioner, Administration for Native Americans at the Department of Health and Human Services. She withdrew her nomination to run for Secretary of State in 2002.
House District 7: Kelly Fajardo (R) vs Andrew Barreras (D)
- House District 7: Valencia County
- Voter make-up: 50/50
- GOP Open Seat
Republican Kelly Fajardo is running for the open seat in House District 7 against Democrat Andrew Barreras. Incumbent Rep. David Chavez (R) is not running for re-election as he pursues a seat in the State Senate this year.
A wife, mother and small business owner, Kelly Fajardo will put people before politics as a State Representative. Fajardo is focused on education reform, repealing the law that gives illegal immigrants a driver’s license, ending corruption in Santa Fe, and making the state more business-friendly by eliminating red tape and high taxes.
Kelly Fajardo knows what it takes for businesses to succeed. She serves on the board for the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce and participates in the Valencia County and Hispano Chambers of Commerce. Kelly is also a member of the Belen Pilot Club and Business Women of Valencia County.
She has been endorsed by the Catholic Coalition of New Mexico, NFIB/New Mexico’s SAFE Trust committee, the New Mexico Right to Life Committee, and has received an “AQ” rating from the NRA for her support of the Second Amendment.
House District 15: Chris Saucedo (R) vs Emily Kane (D)
- House District 15: Bernalillo County — Albuquerque area
- Voter make-up: Toss-up
- Democrat Open Seat
Republican small business owner Chris Saucedo is running in the 15th House District against Democrat and Albuquerque Fire Department Captain Emily Kane.
With Democratic State Rep. William O’Neill’s decision not to run for re-election, this is a must-win seat for Republicans to earn a majority in the State House.
Chris is a shareholder of SaucedoChavez, P.C., serving business and insurance in litigation matters. He was also appointed by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to serve as Chairman of the Board of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
As a State Representative, Saucedo promises to help create jobs and balance the budget, lower taxes, restore ethics to Santa Fe, repeal driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and support family values, pro-life values and gun rights.
A strong conservative leader, Chris has been endorsed by Governor Martinez, The Albuquerque Journal, the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, the Association of Commerce and Industry, and has received an A rating from the NRA.
House District 23: Paul Pacheco (R) vs Marci Blaze (D)
- House District 23: Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties — Albuquerque area
- Voter make-up: 50/50
- GOP Open Seat
A decorated police officer and Republican Paul Pacheco faces Democrat Marci Blaze in the run for House District 23 to replace GOP Rep. David Doyle who is running for State Senate.
Doyle has endorsed Pacheco is his run to replace him and defend this seat. Paul Pacheco is a 27-year veteran of the Albuquerque Police Department and was named APD Detective of the Year in 2003. Now as a husband, father and local business owner, Pacheco is running to continue his service to the community.
His platform is focused on helping small businesses in the state by lowering taxes, repealing the law allowing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, enhancing public safety and support for concealed carry of firearms, reforming education for New Mexico’s students, bringing ethics back to Santa Fe and putting an end to out-of-control spending.
A true leader in the community, Paul Pacheco has been endorsed by Governor Susana Martinez, The Albuquerque Journal, and NFIB. He has been named a “Pro-Jobs” candidate by the Association of Commerce and Industry and received an “A” rating from NRA. Pacheco is also supported by the New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police, New Mexico Professional Fire Fighters Association, Albuquerque Area Fire Fighters IAFF Local 244, Chicano Police Officers Association, and the Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
House District 24: Rep. Conrad James (R) vs Elizabeth Thomson (D)
- House District 24: Bernalillo County — Albuquerque area
- Voter make-up: 50/50
- GOP incumbent
Republican State Representative Conrad James is running for re-election to the 24th House District against Democrat Elizabeth Thomson.
With a strong cash advantage and a weak opponent in this evenly split partisan district, James is looking to win a second term to continue his work in promoting efficient government, bringing vision to the State Legislature and advocating stewardship of New Mexicans’ resources and tax dollars. He currently serves as a member of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee and the Voters and Elections Committee.
Since coming to office in 2011, Rep. James has received the Spirit of Bipartisanship Rising Star Award from New Mexico First, as well as the Soaring Eagle Award from the New Mexico Association of Counties.
House District 43: Rep. Jim Hall (R) vs Stephanie Garcia Richard (D)
- House District 43: Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties
- Voter make-up: Moderate
- GOP Incumbent
Republican State Representative Jim Hall was first appointed to the Legislature in 2011 by Governor Martinez to serve the remainder of Rep. Jeanette Wallace’s term. He is running for re-election this year in the 43rd House District against Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard. Recent polling shows Rep. Hall with a strong lead over his opponent.
During Jim Hall’s tenure in office he has led on several legislative issues, including preserving state funding for school reform, seniors and law enforcement. Focused on providing workable solutions for his constituents, Rep. Hall publishes a regular column to update them on his efforts in Santa Fe.
Jim is focused on job creation in New Mexico by enhancing education, the private sector and the tax code. He also supports the expansion of Medicaid in the state if New Mexico, not Washington, DC, is in charge. Rep. Hall’s platform is also focused on increased energy development and pension reform.
In 2000 Jim was appointed by former Governor Gary Johnson to serve as the first Chief Information Officer in the state where he developed New Mexico’s first IT strategic plan. His experience on the Los Alamos County Council and School Board, as a youth leader in the community, as a business owner, and now as a State Representative fuel his enthusiasm for bringing positive reform to Santa Fe.