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Editorial: Journal winds up its endorsements in NM Senate races

Ismara Acosta holds her 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, as she waits in line to cast her ballot at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Annex on Oct. 6, the first day of in-person voting. Early voting in the Nov. 3 general election continues through Oct. 31. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Ismara Acosta holds her 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, as she waits in line to cast her ballot at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Annex on Oct. 6, the first day of in-person voting. Early voting in the Nov. 3 general election continues through Oct. 31. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Today, the Journal concludes its New Mexico Senate endorsements, which wraps up its recommendations for all state legislative races.

Endorsements for other races are forthcoming. For more information, including previously published endorsements, candidate Q&As, district maps and news stories as they are published, go to the Albuquerque Journal’s 2020 election guide at

District 20 – Democrat, Martin Hickey

Hickey, a retired physician and board member of the state’s health insurance exchange, offers real insight on health care issues with 30 years of health care experience, including serving as director of rural health for the Albuquerque VA and medical director at Indian Health Services.

He has a breadth of knowledge that can be useful in the Senate as the pandemic likely continues into 2021. For example, Hickey says the increased use of telemedicine due to the pandemic “has blown medicine wide open,” and he has the business experience and vision to further advance telemedicine across New Mexico.

Hickey says early childhood education and good primary health care lead to better results “downstream.” He said in his Journal Q&A that lack of access to health care, behavioral health care and substance abuse support – as well as poverty and limited education – are the root causes of crime.

“Addressing these will help reduce low-level and nonviolent criminal activity. For repeat offenders and violent criminals, we need to look at serious, more punitive measures,” he said.

Hickey faces Republican John Morton to represent the sprawling district that covers parts of the Sandia foothills and Northeast Heights. Sen. William Payne did not seek reelection.

District 21 – Republican incumbent, Mark Moores

Moores says state lawmakers made a “monumental mistake” in entrusting so much power to the Governor’s Office with the enactment of the Public Health Emergency Response Act in 2003. He says all branches of government have roles to play during a public health crisis, and the lack of legislative input has resulted in a one-size-fits-all response that doesn’t address regional differences and concerns.

“No government official should have total and unilateral power in a Republic,” Moores said in his Journal Q&A. “The governor must be required to receive legislative input and approval within 30 days. The rights of those accused of violating her orders need to be protected – they deserve their day in court.”

The former Lobo offensive lineman has been in the Senate since 2013 and says he has a lot of unfinished business in Santa Fe. He supports abolishing gross receipts taxes, opening primaries, a merit-based capital outlay system and right-to-work legislation, and he is a leading voice on redistricting reform.

Moores has a balanced energy approach, opposing a moratorium on fracking but voting in favor of the Energy Transition Act of 2019, which calls for a 100% carbon-free electric grid in New Mexico by 2045.

He faces Democrat Athena Ann Christodoulou to represent the upper Northeast Heights district.

District 23 – Republican incumbent, Sander Rue

Rue, who has a history of working across party lines, says “legacy legislation” is bipartisan, and the Legislature “needs more folks to work the middle.”

In the special session in June, Rue sponsored the Small Business Recovery Act in the Senate, which allocated $400 million for loans of up to $75,000 to small businesses and nonprofits. The bill has enabled small businesses – those with annual gross income less than $5 million – to use low-interest loans to cover rent, payroll and other expenses in the short term. It also allocated almost $50 million for emergency loans to local governments and is an example of lawmakers of both parties coming together during a crisis.

Rue is also a champion of transparent and accountable government. In the regular session of 2020, he spearheaded a bill that finally requires the public posting of state settlements and tort claims, and a bill requiring online school budget reporting systems, both of which passed.

He also sponsored for the fourth year in a row legislation requiring the publication of projects each legislator funds with capital outlay dollars, which unfortunately failed to pass, again.

Rue faces Democrat Harold Pope Jr. to represent the far northwestern Albuquerque district.

District 26 – Democratic incumbent, Jacob Candelaria

Candelaria was a sponsor of the Small Business Recovery Act in June’s special session and Senate Bill 96 mandating online school budget reporting in this year’s regular session.

“We need to better track how dollars are spent,” he said in his Journal Q&A. “If we are going to invest in education, we need to be sure the dollars are getting to the kids who need them.”

Candelaria supports allowing independents to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary and the public’s right to view police body cam footage.

“I have not heard any good argument, to date, that would lead me to believe that any of these videos should ever be exempt from public disclosure,” he said in his Journal Q&A.

Candelaria has consistently voted against new gross receipts tax credits or deductions in his eight years in the Senate and says he will continue to do so until lawmakers pass broad-based GRT reform.

He also supports strengthening and better coordinating the capital outlay process.

Candelaria faces Republican Manuel Lardizabal in the far west Albuquerque district, which is bisected by I-40.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.