ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Republican Johnny Luévano hopes a court appeal will revive his chance to run for the West Side state House of Representatives seat currently held by Democrat Antonio “Moe” Maestas.
At a Monday news conference, Luévano said he plans to ask the state Court of Appeals to reverse last week’s District Court ruling that supported Maestas’ claim that he was ineligible to run for the House District 16 seat because he was not a district resident on the legally required date.
The ruling led Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to remove Luévano from the ballot, leaving Maestas without an opponent.
“My residency is not a sham. I am a legal voting member of this district,” Luévano told a crowd of about 25 supporters, including retired Marine Corps Col. Allen Weh, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, and Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon, who has weighed in publicly on political candidates.
Luévano retired in August from a 20-year career in the Marines and is now a member of Smothermon’s church.
The news conference was in the newly completed home on Bluffside, near Atrisco and Iliff, which is at the heart of the controversy.
Maestas challenged his opponent after reports surfaced that Luévano did not receive the required city permit to occupy the home until March 14. The lawsuit said state election law required candidates to be living in their district on March 6, the date the governor made the election proclamation.
Luévano maintains he is eligible to run because of a federal law that allows service members to establish a legal residency in a state while they are serving elsewhere.
“Under federal law we are given the right to call our home our residence,” Weh said.
Luévano said he has owned and paid taxes on the property since 2006. He said he may consider running as a write-in candidate if his appeal is not successful.
“There’s 10,000 voters in this district that will not get a right to vote for the candidate of their choice if this (District Court) decision stands,” Luévano said.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal