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Election 2020: Changing NE Heights at center of clash for House District 27 seat

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – For years, the Northeast Heights in Albuquerque reliably sent Republicans to the state Legislature.

But that started to change in 2018 – when Democrat Bill Pratt narrowly won House District 27, part of a string of Democratic victories in what had been solidly Republican territory.

Voters this year will determine whether Democrats hold on to those gains.

Republican Robert Godshall, a business owner and retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor, is running for the seat again after having lost by 1.4 percentage points, or just 193 votes, in 2018.

He faces Democratic Rep. Marian Matthews – a retired lawyer and educator appointed to the House after the death of Pratt – and write-in candidate Jason Barker, who isn’t affiliated with a party.

Matthews, 74, said she has a bipartisan record since joining the House in January, including co-sponsorship of legislation that created a new loan program for small businesses and local governments damaged by the pandemic.

“My focus,” she said, “is to solve problems and to do that in a collaborative way.”

Godshall, 64, said he would push for accountability and against over-regulation at the Capitol – a necessary change, he said, following decades of mostly Democratic control of the Legislature.

“I feel very firmly grounded in a free-market approach,” he said.

Barker, 44, said he was motivated to run, in part, by his experience as an activist who has pushed successfully to loosen pandemic restrictions on visiting at nursing homes and for an expansion of conditions that qualify patients for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.

“I’m a good fit,” Barker said. “I’ve already got things I’ve done for the community.”

District 27 covers part of the Northeast Heights in Albuquerque, including neighborhoods along Academy Road, and around the intersection of Juan Tabo and Eubank.

It was represented by the late Rep. Larry Larrañaga, a Republican, for 24 years, before Pratt defeated Godshall to take the seat in 2018.

Matthews has a substantial financial advantage this year, according to campaign finance reports filed Sept. 14.

She reported about $74,000 in cash on hand after about $65,000 in recent contributions. Her contributors include union groups and EMILY’s List, a national group backing Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.

Godshall had about $26,000 in cash and reported $18,000 in recent contributions. His donors include members of the Yates family in Artesia and two petroleum companies.

Barker didn’t report any activity.


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