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Capitol Beat: Ex-National Guard boss joins GOP race to succeed Pearce

Andrew Salas, a former adjutant general of the New Mexico National Guard, is joining the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce next year.

Andrew Salas

Andrew Salas

Salas, a Republican from Socorro County, stepped down from commanding the National Guard in July.

He will compete against some well-known candidates for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District: state Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo, Carlsbad pharmacist Jack Volpato and former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman.

Salas told El Defensor Chieftain – a sister paper to the Albuquerque Journal – that he realizes the race already includes high-quality candidates.

“However, I believe I have something that none of the other candidates have,” Salas said. “That’s a lifetime of leading teams to get things done. That’s been my role as a military man, which I believe will be a benefit to the citizens of southern New Mexico.”

The race is wide open because Pearce, a Republican, is running for governor rather than seeking re-election.

Six Democrats are also running for the seat, which has been held by a Republican for all but two of the past 27 years.

Gov. in Dallas: Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to Dallas this week for meetings of the Republican Governors Association.

She left late Tuesday and expects to return to New Mexico today.

The association is paying for her travel.

Martinez is a former chairwoman of the group, which supports Republican gubernatorial candidates.

Budget for DA: District Attorney Raúl Torrez, the top state prosecutor in Bernalillo County, is picking up bipartisan support for a budget increase.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said last week that she will request an extra $6.5 million for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, an increase of 33 percent over this year’s budget.

And state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said he was glad to hear of the governor’s support.

“We must invest in keeping our communities safe,” he said.

Maestas and Martinez are both former prosecutors.

Maestas is also the co-chairman of a bipartisan legislative committee examining ways to combat New Mexico’s rising crime rate.

Dan McKay: