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SANTA FE – State Rep. Georgene Louis said Friday she will not seek reelection after being arrested during the final days of this year’s 30-day legislative session on charges of aggravated drunken driving.
In a statement released by her attorney, the Albuquerque Democrat stopped short of saying she planned to resign from the House District 26 seat she has held since 2013, but indicated she would not run for a sixth term in November.
“It has been an honor to serve the constituents of House District 26 for the past ten years,” Louis said. “I have decided not to seek reelection in 2022. I send my sincerest thank you to everyone who has supported me over my tenure as state representative.”
After Louis announced she would not run for reelection, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the lawmaker was doing the “right thing.”
“By making the decision not to run for reelection, the representative has demonstrated to her constituents and colleagues in the Legislature that she takes full responsibility for her actions,” said Lujan Grisham, who added public officials must be held to a higher standard of conduct.
Louis was pulled over Feb. 13 by a Santa Fe police officer who clocked her driving her car 17 mph over the speed limit on St. Francis Drive, according to a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe Municipal Court.
Police videos showed Louis telling the arresting officer she had consumed “twoish” total drinks, including vodka and soda, at a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house. Eventually, she says she had three drinks.
“I haven’t had much sleep,” Louis said in the video. “I’m a legislator, we haven’t had much sleep.”
After taking field sobriety tests in which she swayed and struggled to keep her balance, according to the officer, Louis was arrested and agreed to a Breathalyzer test.
Two tests revealed a 0.17% blood alcohol content – more than twice New Mexico’s presumed level of intoxication, according to the complaint.
Louis, who is also facing charges of speeding and failing to show proof of vehicle registration and proof of insurance, subsequently apologized for the incident.
“I am sorry and I deeply regret my lapse in judgment,” Louis said. “I know I let so many people down. I am accepting responsibility for my mistake.”
But she has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing March 16 in Santa Fe Municipal Court.
Meanwhile, the drunken driving arrest marked the latest in a string of DWI cases involving New Mexico legislators.
Two former lawmakers who were recently convicted of drunken driving – ex-Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, and ex-Sen. Richard Martinez, a Democrat from Rio Arriba County – were defeated in their next reelection bids.
While Louis does not plan to run again, her decision to finish up the two-year term she was elected to in 2020 could have implications. That’s because a legislative pension plan requires that ex-lawmakers under age 65 must have served at least 10 years in the Legislature in order to qualify for benefits.
At least two Democratic candidates have already announced plans to run for Louis’s seat: Ex-state Rep. Eleanor Chavez, a former social worker who served in the House from 2009-12, and Felipa Coon, a family liaison at Valle Vista Elementary School.
Other candidates may emerge, too. The filing day for formal declarations of candidates is March 8.
House District 26 is a heavily Democratic area on the West Side of Albuquerque, covering neighborhoods along West Central and Interstate 40.
Journal Capitol Bureau reporter Dan McKay and staff writer Andy Stiny contributed to this report.