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Gonzales ends bid for lieutenant governor

SANTA FE – Javier Gonzales, the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city, announced Tuesday that he was ending his bid for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

The abrupt decision came just one week after Gonzales filed the necessary paperwork to be placed on the June 5 primary ballot and leaves four Democrats seeking the nomination for the state’s second-highest office.

Javier Gonzales

In a statement, Gonzales said his decision was based in part on the number and quality of other candidates in the contest.

“Unfortunately, my heart is not in this race, so with a clear conscience, I have decided to end my campaign and return to the private sector after my term as mayor expires,” Gonzales said. “Service takes many forms, and I look forward to continuing my service to our state in the future.”

Gonzales, who is also a former state Democratic Party chairman, surprised many last fall when he announced he would not seek a second four-year term as mayor in the March city elections.

He then announced in December that he would run for lieutenant governor, after state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque dropped out of the race over renewed criticism over sexual harassment allegations lodged against him a decade ago.

A member of a prominent Santa Fe political family, Gonzales, who is openly gay, was elected mayor in 2014. His term ends March 12.

As mayor, Gonzales has sought to combat climate change and reduce poverty. He also pushed a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks last year as a way to fund early childhood programs. That proposal was soundly rejected by Santa Fe voters.

The four remaining Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor are state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett, former state Rep. Rick Miera of Albuquerque, and former Public Education Commissioner Jeff Carr of Eagle Nest.

There is just one Republican running for the office, former law enforcement officer Michelle Garcia Holmes of Albuquerque.

Per state law, New Mexico’s lieutenant governor makes an annual salary of $85,000, though that could go up under legislation pending at the state Capitol.