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Judge disqualifies Rep. Ruiloba from June 2 ballot

Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – State Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, didn’t follow the proper procedure for collecting petition signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, a state district judge has ruled.

In a five-page order Monday, Judge Joshua Allison directed Bernalillo County and state election officials not to include Ruiloba’s name on the June 2 ballot.

No other candidate has filed to run in the South Valley-based district ahead of the primary election.

But minor party, independent and write-in candidates could emerge this summer when their filing deadlines arrive for the general election.

Ruiloba, in any case, said he will appeal the ruling and fight to get his name on the June 2 ballot.

A second incumbent, Republican Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales, is also facing a signature challenge, but the judge hasn’t ruled yet.

The order disqualifying Ruiloba centered on the lack of a district number on his signature-collecting paperwork. He represents House District 12, covering parts of Southwest Albuquerque.

Allison, a judge in the 2nd Judicial District, said the state Supreme Court has previously held that the requirement to note the district number for the office sought is meant to ensure voters signing the petition know whether they are qualified to do so. It’s just one part of a broader regulatory framework for elections, he said.

Failing to include the district number on his paperwork, Allison ruled, invalidated the petitions.

Ruiloba, a police officer for Albuquerque Public Schools, said he believes the law is vague on whether the district number is required. But in practical terms, he said, the voters in his district know who he is and understand he was collecting signatures to run for reelection.

Ruiloba, who has served in the House since 2015, is chairman of the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee.

Barring him from the ballot, he said, would disenfranchise the voters in his district.

An “appeal is the right thing to do,” Ruiloba said in an interview.

The plaintiff in the case is Jacob Cardenas.

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