Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Two years ago, the contest to represent a large part of Southeast Albuquerque emerged as one of the closest legislative races in New Mexico.
Democrat Abbas Akhil defeated Republican Rep. Jim Dines by less than 1 percentage point.
But it’s an open seat this time, and a key target of both parties as they push to make gains in the House. Akhil is retiring after one term to spend more time with his family.
Democrat Meredith Dixon, a consultant, faces Republican Michael Hendricks, a lawyer, in the district, which stretches from the neighborhoods of Four Hills to Carnuel in the East Mountains.
Dixon, 43, describes herself as progressive but pragmatic – a good fit, she said, for a swing district that doesn’t lean too far left or right. In the primary election, she said, Conservation Voters New Mexico endorsed her candidacy and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association donated to her campaign.
“I’m bipartisan,” she said. “I’m a Democrat married to a Republican. Every day is an exercise in listening and figuring out what we can agree on.”
Hendricks, 38, describes himself as a libertarian-minded Republican who would help bring balance to the Legislature, where Democrats hold majorities exceeding 60% in each chamber.
He spent much of his childhood in Mexico – his parents were missionaries – and said he knows firsthand what it’s like to watch every penny.
“There are going to have to be some hard choices that have to be made,” Hendricks said. “We really want to make sure we don’t just put a rubber stamp in the office up there and just go along with whatever the leadership is saying.”
Besides the Four Hills area, House District 20 includes neighborhoods near Lomas and Tramway, and part of the Sandia foothills and stretches along Interstate 40 to Carnuel.
Republicans had held the district for years until Democrats’ narrow win in 2018.
Hendricks lives in Willow Wood Estates, Dixon in Four Hills.
Dixon has a substantial financial advantage over Hendricks, according to campaign finance reports filed Sept. 14. She had $113,000 in cash on hand after raising about $56,000 in the most recent period.
Her recent contributors included union organizations; several Democratic members of the House; and EMILY’s List, a national group that favors Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.
Hendricks, by contrast, had about $19,000 in cash available after raising about $18,000 in recent contributions.
His contributors included a trust affiliated with members of the Yates family in Artesia; Republican legislators; and the Albuquerque Federated Republican Women political committee.
Hendricks’ law practice focuses on immigration. Dixon’s consulting work includes political fundraising and policy analysis.