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Sen. Lopez to run for governor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The field of Democrats planning a run for governor in 2014 against Republican Susana Martinez is growing.

Albuquerque Sen. Linda Lopez says she will seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year, challenging Attorney General Gary King. King previously was the only candidate to announce plans to oppose Martinez’s re-election bid.

Lopez, an educator who has served as state senator since 1997, said she is running to bring “new energy” to the state. Lopez fell short in a bid for lieutenant governor in 2010.

“I believe New Mexico needs new energy, a positive new energy to continue helping our communities move forward with regard to jobs, education (and) the environment,” Lopez said of her decision to run, announced this week.

Lopez, who also serves as chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, has been a fierce critic of Martinez in the Legislature. Lopez drew fire from the governor during this year’s legislative session for perceived delays in Senate confirmation of Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, who received no vote after 10 hours of public hearings. Lopez said more time was needed to address committee members’ unanswered questions.

Meanwhile, other prominent Democratic legislators said they’re also weighing an entrance into the governor’s race.

Sen. Tim Keller, the Senate Democratic whip, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, the House whip, both said they’re interested in a gubernatorial campaign but still weighing whether to run.

Keller, who represents Albuquerque’s International District, said he had been considering running for state treasurer but is being encouraged to run for governor instead to better utilize his business background as the state’s executive.

“A lot of community folks and other elected folks are really encouraging me to run for governor,” Keller said. “It’s an exciting idea. We’re going to give that a look.”

Complicating the decision to run is the birth of his first child, expected in July, Keller said. He said he would probably make a decision during the summer on whether to run.

Maestas, who represents Albuquerque’s West Side, said he’s weighing whether the timing is right before committing to a race for governor.

“I think the people of New Mexico deserve a governor that’s stronger on the economy and that knows how government can be utilized to improve the economy,” Maestas said. “And so I think me and a dozen other Democrats have (a run for governor) in the back of their mind.

“At the end of the day, I’m confident that the party will be unified behind one candidate,” he said.

Maestas said he plans to make a decision on whether to run before June to have time to catch up with other candidates in fundraising and campaign organization.

Lopez, announcing plans to run for governor eight months after King threw his name into the hat, said she doesn’t feel behind.

“There’s still ample time and opportunity in which to garner support and raise money. There’s still plenty of time.” Lopez said.

King has raised about $250,000 for the race since he announced his candidacy in July. His campaign reported about $100,000 cash on hand earlier this month.

The governor has reported her campaign account totaled $1.5 million in early April.

State Auditor Hector Balderas, another Democrat frequently cited as a possible contender for governor in 2014, said Tuesday that he does not plan to run against Martinez.

Instead, Balderas said he is eyeing a race for attorney general.

“Later on in the future, I’d love to continue serving the people of New Mexico, but right now, I’m only looking at the attorney general position,” Balderas said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal