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State Auditor Colón jumps into AG’s race

State Auditor Brian Colón

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – State Auditor Brian Colón on Thursday launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination to serve as attorney general – the first candidate to enter the race to succeed Hector Balderas.

Colón, 51, said he would aggressively prosecute criminals, protect the environment and consumers and confront governmental misconduct as New Mexico’s top lawyer.

In an interview, he highlighted his personal background growing up poor in Valencia County and becoming the first person in his family to go to college. Colón was a teen when his father died.

His professional experience as an Albuquerque lawyer and state auditor, he said, would be an asset as attorney general.

“What motivates me is to fight for New Mexico’s families,” Colón said. “It’s what I’ve done my whole life.”

The campaign to succeed Balderas may draw other prominent candidates. Two Albuquerque Democrats – state Sen. Jacob Candelaria and 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez – have said they are considering a run.

Colón, a former state Democratic Party chairman, reported about $367,000 in cash in his campaign account last month.

He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Albuquerque in 2017 but won contested primary and general election races the next year for state auditor.

During his tenure as auditor, the office has released reports questioning weak financial controls and generous executive compensation at a McKinley County hospital and played a role in New Mexico’s push to improve its system for legal guardians and conservators.

Colón said Thursday that crime would be his No. 1 issue as attorney general. The office would take on tough cases local prosecutors shy away from, he said, including prosecutions of bad cops or corrupt politicians.

Crimes against children, sex crimes and gun crimes would also be priorities, he said.

“People have said enough is enough,” Colón said.

The office would also focus on protecting consumers from predatory corporations, scams and fraud, he said, and it would aggressively work to preserve the environment.

Colón said the state would protect its rights in court but also pursue consensus when possible. He voiced support for creation of an interstate plan to better share water.

Balderas is set to leave the Attorney General’s Office next year after serving since 2015. He cannot run in 2022 because of term limits.

No Republican has won a race for attorney general in New Mexico since Hal Stratton in 1986. It has sometimes been a springboard to higher office.

Former U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, for example, each served as New Mexico attorney general before winning election to the Senate.

New Mexico’s primary election is set for June next year.

Voters are to decide races for a host of statewide executive offices, including governor, treasurer, auditor, attorney general, land commissioner and secretary of state.

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