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First Republican joins race for Rep. Steve Pearce’s seat

Yvette Herrell

State Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, is plunging into the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

Herrell is the first Republican to enter the race, which is wide open now that Pearce, also a Republican, announced he will campaign for governor rather than seek re-election next year.

“I’m a conservative Republican – definitely pro-God, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment, pro-life,” Herrell said in an interview.

Herrell, who grew up in Cloudcroft and has served in the Legislature since 2011, said she’s a native New Mexican who understands the priorities of the district, which spans the southern half of the state.

The Democratic candidates are David Baake, an attorney from Las Cruces; Tony Martinez, who retired after careers in the Army and the pharmaceutical industry; Mad Hildebrandt of Socorro; and Ronald Fitzherbert of Las Cruces.

— Dan McKay,

NOT RUNNING: Lt. Gov. John Sanchez has not announced his political plans for 2018 – but he won’t be running for governor.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez

Sanchez, an Albuquerque Republican, had previously been touted as a possible gubernatorial candidate, but announced his decision not to run for the office after U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce rolled out his 2018 bid for governor.

The lieutenant governor made the announcement via a social media post that featured a picture of him and Pearce together, and a description of the fellow Republican as a “good friend and ally.”

Recent attempts by New Mexico lieutenant governors to move on to the Governor’s Office have been unsuccessful.

Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was her party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2010, but lost the general election to current Gov. Susana Martinez. And former GOP Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley was defeated in the 2002 primary for governor by none other than Sanchez, who went on to lose in the general election.

Sanchez did not indicate this week when he might make a final decision about 2018 plans. He is also rumored to be a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Martin Heinrich, a Democrat.

— Dan Boyd,

STUMPING: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca will hit the road this month for some statewide barnstorming.

Jeff Apodaca

Apodaca, a former television executive, will hold the first stop on his state tour Sunday in Ruidoso. A total of 14 stops are scheduled and more could be added, according to this campaign.

The events will involve Apodaca discussing some ideas for New Mexico – including how to create 225,000 jobs.

He also described the format as an interactive one that will allow him to listen to New Mexicans’ concerns, saying, “I think that’s one of the things our leaders have failed on.”

Apodaca is one of four Democrats vying for the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nomination. The others are U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of Albuquerque, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and anti-alcohol activist Peter DeBenedittis of Santa Fe.

— Dan Boyd