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Politics Notebook: Candidate lacks signatures to run, lawsuit charges

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A District Court judge in Gallup is scheduled to hear a legal challenge today aimed at bumping Democratic state Rep. Sandra Jeff from the primary election ballot because she didn’t file enough nominating petition signatures.

The suit was brought by a McKinley County man named Larry King with the help of the Conservation Voters of New Mexico. It contends Jeff failed to collect the minimum required 78 petition signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot. Jeff earlier this month submitted 91 signatures, but the lawsuit contends at least 52 of those signatures are questionable, CVNM spokeswoman Liliana Castillo said Monday.

Jeff, a two-term representative from Crownpoint, drew criticism after derailing a Democratic majority-backed budget proposal in the state House this year and being absent on a vote to raise the state minimum wage, despite a call from Vice President Joe Biden urging her to vote yes.

BUSH VISIT: Gov. Susana Martinez is welcoming former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to New Mexico this week to talk education policy and help Martinez raise money for her re-election bid.

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, will be in New Mexico today and Wednesday. He’s expected to make appearances in the Farmington area and in Santa Fe.

The governor’s office on Monday confirmed Bush would join Martinez and Public Education Department secretary-designate Hanna Skandera to talk about education during a visit to a Shiprock elementary school.

Skandera worked for Bush as a deputy commissioner of the Florida public schools system between 2005 and 2007.

The separate political fundraising events will be private and closed to the media.

SENATE SPAT: A staffer for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Allen Weh has filed a lawsuit accusing Weh’s primary opponent, David Clements, of defamation.

The claim in state District Court came after Clements’ campaign published a website that accused Weh campaign manager Diego Espinoza of “hacking” a Clements email account.

“What Mr. Clements is alleging is false, and it’s harmful to a person who is not a public figure,” said Espinoza’s attorney, Colin Hunter.

Clements defended the statement as nondefamatory by saying it’s true. He said the suit was filed as an attempt to distract his campaign.

“I maintain that everything we put out there is true,” Clements said. “… Ultimately, it’s a frivolous lawsuit.”

Clements said the alleged email hacking is being investigated by the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office.

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