ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A West Side legislator has filed a legal challenge to his opponent’s eligibility to run for the seat, claiming he wasn’t living in the district on the date required by the state’s election law.
House District 16 Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas filed the lawsuit Thursday in District Court in Albuquerque against Johnny Luévano and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Maestas said he included Oliver in the lawsuit because the district is wholly within Bernalillo County and she is the chief election official for county elections.
The lawsuit says state election law required candidates to be living in their district on March 6, the date the governor made the election proclamation.
It claims Luévano was not legally residing in the district on that date because he did not receive the required city permit to occupy his newly constructed home on Bluffside NW, near Atrisco and Iliff, until March 14.
“I felt compelled to file the petition because I believe we are a nation of laws, and election laws, above all others, must be enforced and the gentlemen did not comply with the law by not living in the district on or before March 6,” said Maestas, who is seeking a fourth two-year term.
His lawsuit asks the court to declare Luévano ineligible to run and the county clerk to remove his name from the ballot.
Luévano defends his right to run, saying he owned and paid taxes on the Bluffside property since 2006.
“I am confident I will prevail,” Luévano said in an email. “Moe Maestas will do anything to avoid a challenge on the issues, because he knows his radical views are not reflective of District 16.”
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations by liberal think tank ProgressNow New Mexico that Luévano may have violated state voter registration laws and illegally voted in a city election. The group made the allegations after discovering that Luévano listed the Bluffside address as his home on the voter registration card he completed in April 2011, before the home was built.
On Tuesday, Oliver said she certified Luévano because the issue has not been resolved and therefore she had to proceed on the assumption that his candidacy was legal.