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House candidates offer a stark contrast

SANTA FE – From their background to their beliefs, there is plenty of contrast between six-term incumbent state Rep. Bill Rehm and his Republican challenger, Mark Boslough, in the primary election showdown in House District 31, in Albuquerque’s far Northeast Heights.

Rep. Bill Rehm (Click on photo for bio and Q&A)

Rehm, a retired police officer, has sponsored several bills seeking to increase criminal penalties – for drunken driving, second-degree murder and more – in recent legislative sessions.

Boslough, a physicist and renowned asteroid expert who retired last year from his job with Sandia National Laboratories, says science should help guide political decisions. He is also critical of the National Rifle Association and says he’d push to open the state’s primary election system to independent voters.

Those stances might put Boslough at odds with many GOP voters, but he describes himself as a pragmatist who has seen the party he’s long belonged to drift farther to the right.

“The Republican Party is hemorrhaging moderates,” he told the Journal. “A lot of people are very dissatisfied with the current system.”

Mark Boslough (Click on photo for bio and Q&A)

But Rehm says Boslough’s positions are generally more in line with those of Democrats in the right-leaning district. As of last month, there were 10,935 GOP voters in House District 31, compared with 7,805 registered Democrats.

“I don’t think he’s really in touch with our community,” Rehm said in an interview. “In our district, there are two big issues – crime and the economy.”

On the subject of guns, Boslough said he supports requiring background checks for all firearm transfers – including at gun shows – and expressed concern that current state law allows people to carry guns onto someone else’s private property without requesting permission.

Rehm has voted against gun control legislation at the Roundhouse and claims the best way to address gun violence would be to improve a federal database that can be used to bar those who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses from purchasing or possessing firearms.

The two candidates also diverge on energy-related issues, with Boslough calling for an increased investment in New Mexico renewable energy – specifically, solar and wind projects – and Rehm touting the revenue-generating impact of the state’s oil and natural gas industries.

“I don’t believe in global warming to the extent it’s being portrayed,” Rehm said.

Of the 61 state House members who are running for re-election this year, only six face primary election opposition. Rehm is the only Republican in that bunch, and he acknowledged being surprised by the challenge, which marks just the second time he’s faced a primary opponent since winning the seat in 2006.

There is no Democrat running in the district, and the winner of the June 5 primary will face William Wiley Jr., a former Republican who is now registered as a Libertarian, in the general election.

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