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House incumbent faces former campaign volunteer in primary

Patricia Roybal Caballero

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Two years ago, Edwina Cisneros volunteered for state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero’s campaign.

Now she’s trying to unseat her.

Democratic voters in House District 13 – a patch of southwestern Albuquerque – will choose between Roybal Caballero, now in her eighth year in the Legislature, and Cisneros, a business management professional at Sandia National Laboratories, in the June 2 primary election.

Roybal Caballero is highlighting her experience inside the Roundhouse as an asset during a turbulent time.

Cisneros, in turn, says a new voice would better represent a district that desperately needs improved parks and other amenities.

Edwina Cisneros

The winner of the Democratic nomination is set to face Republican Kayla Marshall in the Nov. 3 general election.

Roybal Caballero said that, if reelected, she will continue her push for a $15 hourly minimum wage, regulations to stop predatory lending and other legislative priorities. She said she’s a good fit for a district with working-class families.

“That’s what I spent my whole life doing, getting things done for my communities,” she said.

Cisneros said the district needs a new voice who will fight to secure resources for the district and be a presence at community meetings. Sidewalks and basic infrastructure are in disrepair, she said, and residents need job and shopping locations closer to their neighborhoods.

Roybal Caballero and Cisneros were once on the same side.

Cisneros said she volunteered for Roybal Caballero’s campaign in 2018, but lost faith in her after the election. She said she doesn’t believe Roybal Caballero – who has faced criticism for spending time in El Paso – is available often enough to respond to constituents.

“I realized that if we continue to let her be in office, things just wouldn’t get done,” Cisneros said. “They’d be the same as they’d always been.”

Roybal Caballero said the criticism is hurtful. It’s true that she visits family in El Paso, she said, but she maintains a regular presence at community meetings in Albuquerque.

She went to El Paso more frequently in the past, she said, to take care of her elderly parents, and inherited a home there after they died.

“It doesn’t diminish my commitment or my effectiveness,” Roybal Caballero said.

Both candidates support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to their responses to a Journal questionnaire, but they clash on whether to open primary elections to voters unaffiliated with a major party.

“Every opportunity to get people to vote is important,” Cisneros said in a Journal questionnaire. “We should encourage participation from voters not affiliated with a major political party.”

Roybal Caballero opposes open primaries.

“I believe primary elections,” she said, “are in place to support the existing party system we have in place, which allows voters to elect candidates best representing their affiliated values and principles.”

Roybal Caballero reported a balance of about $9,000 in her campaign account, including recent donations from groups affiliated with Conservation Voters New Mexico and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. Cisneros had a balance of almost $3,000, but with no recent contributions, according to a report filed this month.

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