Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Democratic Rep. Deborah Armstrong – one of the Legislature’s leading voices on health care – plans to leave the state House when her term ends next year.
She announced she won’t seek reelection, clearing the way for redistricting efforts to avoid any consideration of whether a new House map would pair her in the same district as another incumbent.
Also planning to leave the House next year is Rep. Daymon Ely, a Corrales Democrat and chairman of the House Rules and Order of Business Committee.
Armstrong, who lives in the North Valley of Albuquerque, leads the House Health and Human Services Committee, where she has presided over emotional hearings on aid-in-dying and abortion-rights legislation, both priorities of hers that became law in 2021 after years of debate.
She also has sponsored successful bills legalizing marijuana use for adults, establishing a new state fund to help needy seniors and requiring insurance plans to cover contraception.
In a written statement, Armstrong said it was time to focus on her family and other projects.
“I can’t thank enough my incredible constituents and supporters who have supported me and these important initiatives over the years, and who shared my vision of a state where every New Mexican can get access to the quality healthcare they deserve,” she said.
Armstrong is a close ally of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s, having served as her campaign treasurer. They co-founded a company together in 2008, Delta Consulting, which has helped run New Mexico’s high-risk insurance pool.
Their company’s work with the state prompted criticism from Democratic and Republican opponents in 2018 when Lujan Grisham ran for governor. She had divested herself from Delta the year before.
State law allows legislators to contract with state government if the contract is issued after a competitive bidding process and the officials publicly disclose their interest.
Armstrong started her career as a physical therapist, and she served as the state Cabinet secretary for aging and long-term services from 2004-07.
House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said Armstrong was an effective legislator and easy to work with.
“Because of her,” he said in a written statement, “New Mexicans have better, more affordable access to healthcare coverage, the ability to pass away with dignity, and a robust medical cannabis program.
“Her knowledge and experience meant that New Mexicans could rest assured knowing our state’s public health was in good hands.”