Editor’s note: The Journal is highlighting key legislative races ahead of the June 2 primary election. Absentee voting is underway, and early voting locations open Saturday.
SANTA FE – Republican voters in Albuquerque’s Four Hills neighborhood and the East Mountains have an unusual choice to make in next month’s primary election.
Two sitting legislators are seeking the nomination in Senate District 19 – the incumbent, Jim White, and state Rep. Gregg Schmedes.
White, a retired Air Force pilot from Albuquerque, is seeking reelection after his first four-year term in the Senate. He served in the state House in 2009-14.
Schmedes, a surgeon from Tijeras, joined the House in 2018 and is now looking to move over to the Senate.
The winner will advance to face Democrat Claudia Risner and Libertarian John Douglas McDivitt in the Nov. 3 general election.
White is campaigning as an experienced legislator with a strong work ethic and the time to dedicate to the job. He secured a spot on the powerful Senate Finance Committee – where, he said, he has pushed the state to maintain reserves equal to 25% of spending.
White said he also has pushed to fund “law-and-order” functions, such as the courts and police.
“I know this task; I know the people; I know the process,” White said, “and that’s all important to being able to recognize who you can work with and who you can’t work with. That’s a big benefit.”
Schmedes said he would bring a more conservative voice to the district. In this year’s legislative session, he had the second-highest score issued by the libertarian-leaning Rio Grande Foundation, which examined all 112 legislators’ votes on matters of “individual liberty and economic freedom.”
Schmedes said he would fight for limited government and protect freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to bear arms.
“It’s a strong conservative district,” he said, “and I think a strong conservative needs to be in that district.”
Each candidate says his professional background would be an asset for the district.
Schmedes, a physician, said he knows the health care system in New Mexico well and is in a position to fight effectively against regulations that would drive up the cost of health insurance.
White, a Vietnam veteran, said his Air Force career included work as a cost analyst, giving him deep experience in budgeting and contracts.
White and Schmedes have contrasting views on whether to require lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against, according to the candidates’ responses to Journal questionnaires. White opposes the idea. Schmedes supports it and says any such requirements should also apply to executive branch agencies.
White’s campaign had a financial edge, according to reports filed Monday. He reported a balance of $46,000, including a personal loan to his campaign of $30,000.
Schmedes reported a balance of nearly $10,000.
Senate District 19 covers parts of four counties and includes Edgewood, Moriarty, Stanley and part of Southeast Albuquerque.
All 112 legislative seats are on the ballot this year.
Democrats hold a 26-16 edge in the Senate and 46-24 majority in the House.