Swing district may be tilting Democratic

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Long a swing legislative district, the House District 15 seat that reclines across Albuquerque’s North Valley could be tilting in Democrats’ favor.

Democrat Dayan Hochman-Vigil, an attorney who specializes in aviation and space law, won the seat in 2018 and is trying to fend off two general election challengers to win reelection.

Her opponents are Republican Ali Ennenga, a former special education teacher and paralegal, and Libertarian Ranota Banks, who’s running the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Bob Walsh.

All three candidates say addressing the state’s beleaguered economy would be among their top priorities.

Both Ennenga and Banks have called for the state’s gross receipts tax system to be overhauled, while Hochman-Vigil said she is focused on economic aid for small businesses. She also supports simplifying the tax code by eliminating tax breaks and lowering the base rate.

The incumbent has also touted the idea of trying to get the U.S. Space Command headquarters located in New Mexico as a way to jump start the economy and reduce revenue volatility.

“It would just be a perfect fit,” she said, citing the state’s two national laboratories and Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences.

But this year’s race isn’t just about the economy.

Ennenga, who ran unsuccessfully in 2017 for an Albuquerque Public Schools board seat, has been critical of Hochman-Vigil’s votes in favor of bills dealing with abortion rights and gun restrictions.

If elected, she also said she would support repealing the landmark 2019 state Energy Transition Act that mandates a gradual shift to carbon-free energy generation by 2045.

“I think I can be a voice of reason in Santa Fe,” Ennenga told the Journal.

For her part, Banks said she decided to run for elected office in order to give district voters another choice.

“I feel like the more choices you have, the better,” Banks told the Journal.

In addition to Albuquerque’s North Valley, the House District 15 seat also encompasses parts of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and a swath of the Northeast Heights.

The seat has been held by both Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Sarah Maestas Barnes, a Republican, represented the district from 2015 through 2018, but did not seek reelection that year and Hochman-Vigil won the seat as part of a Democratic wave.

Hochman-Vigil has outraised her two rivals in the run-up to this year’s Election Day, with roughly $71,500 in contributions as of the most recent filing period. She has received donations from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s political committee, the political arm of Animal Protection Voters and several oil companies.

Ennenga has reported getting more than $16,000 in donations, with contributions from the New Mexico Restaurant Association and several GOP lawmakers, among others.

Banks has not reported raising money for her campaign.

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