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Lechuga-Tena loses bid to rejoin ballot

Former Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena, D-Albuquerque

SANTA FE — The state Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed an earlier decision kicking former state Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena off the ballot.

The decisions clears the way for Rep. Debbie Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, to run for re-election this year without opposition for the International District-area seat.

Sariñana defeated Lechuga-Tena in 2016 to win a spot in the House.

The two were set for a re-match this year in the Democratic primary, but Sariñana challenged her opponent’s residency.

Lechuga-Tena later acknowledged that she’d been living outside the House district. She was renting out her home to another family but said it was still her permanent residence because she intended to return this month.

But District Judge Nancy Franchini disqualified her as a candidate, ruling that Lechuga-Tena hadn’t actually lived in the district for about a year.

The Supreme Court issued a short order Thursday affirming the decision and describing it as “supported by substantial evidence.”