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Sen. Howie Morales enters NM lieutenant governor race

SANTA FE — State state Sen. Howie Morales has jumped into New Mexico’s topsy-turvy race for lieutenant governor.

Morales, a Silver City Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, instantly becomes one of the highest-profile candidates in the contest.

“After hearing from countless people across the state urging me to get into this race, I am confident I will bring a combination of energy and experience to the Democratic Party ticket in 2018,” he told the Journal this evening.

Morales’ decision to enter the race comes just one day after another Democratic candidate, state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque, withdrew from the contest due to decade-old allegations of sexual harassment.

A former special education teacher and a state senator since 2008, Morales has been a leading critic of some of Gov. Susana Martinez’s education initiatives, including an A-F school grading system and teacher evaluations.

He came in f0urth in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial race, but won the largest share of delegate votes during that year’s Democratic pre-primary nominating convention.

The other Democrats running for lieutenant governor next year are: Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett; former state House Majority Leader Rick Miera of Albuquerque; Eagle Nest resident Jeff Carr, a former member of the Public Education Commission; and David McTeigue of Rio Rancho, a juvenile probation officer.