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Several Longtime Lawmakers Unseated

By Rene Romo and Sean Olson
Journal Staff Writers
    Voters rejected some of the old guard Tuesday, sending home three prominent Albuquerque legislators and the state House's second-ranking Republican.
    Albuquerque Sens. Shannon Robinson and James Taylor and Rep. Dan Silva— representing a total of 56 years in the Legislature— lost to Tim Keller, Eric Griego and Eleanor Chavez, respectively. No Republican filed in any of the three districts.
    And Rep. Dan Foley of Roswell, who has represented parts of Chaves, Lincoln and Otero counties since 1999, was unseated by political novice and retired FBI Agent Dennis Kintigh. Kintigh was making his first bid for elected office.
    Keller, who was running in his first campaign in taking on Robinson, won with promises of a progressive agenda and more dollars for redevelopment.
    "We were expecting to win, but we weren't underestimating a 20-year incumbent," Keller said Tuesday night.
    Griego and Chavez both said the desire for change propelled them to their victories over Taylor, who served 14 years combined in the House and Senate, and Silva, a 22-year House veteran.
    "The voters sent a very clear message (Tuesday), which is 'you guys better start changing the way you do things in Santa Fe, or we'll start ending these contracts,' '' said Griego, a former Albuquerque city councilor.
    Foley, the House Minority whip, declined late Tuesday to analyze why he lost, but instead said he planned to work to ensure Kintigh wins the general election in November.
    Foley said he planned to resign from office in the next few weeks and to seek Kintigh's appointment to fill out his House District 57 term. That, Foley said, would give Kintigh some valuable experience.
    "It's been an honor serving for 10 years. It's an honor not many people get," Foley said. "I just feel like I let people down by not getting re-elected, but I want the people who supported me to support Dennis."
    Overall, 13 members of the New Mexico Senate and 11 House members faced challengers in the primary. Democrat John Pena lost the Gallup-area House seat he was appointed to in 2007, bringing to five the number of legislators who lost their seats in Tuesday's primary elections.
    Meanwhile, state Sen. Rod Adair of Roswell held off the challenge of Rory McMinn in the District 33 GOP primary. There's no Democrat running for Adair's Senate seat.
    The Foley and Adair campaigns were harsh affairs that pitted the old guard of the Chaves County Republican Party against upstarts critical of Foley and Adair's leadership.
    McMinn's and Kintigh's campaigns both received huge infusions of cash from Roswell oilman Mark B. Murphy, along with businesses and a PAC connected to Murphy— more than $175,000 in Kintigh's case, and more than $125,000 in McMinn's case.
    Journal staff writer Jessica Dyer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.