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Candidates’ primary bids made official

SANTA FE – The field for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District race narrowed Tuesday as candidates for congressional and state offices filed paperwork to qualify for the June primary election ballot.

Former Albuquerque City Councilor Mike McEntee, a Republican who announced in October a bid for the central New Mexico U.S. House seat represented by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said he had withdrawn.

“The timing simply was not right, and I have no regrets,” McEntee said.

McEntee’s exit means the Republican nomination to challenge Lujan Grisham in the November general election will be decided between Corrales business owner Mike Frese and retired Army officer Richard Priem of Albuquerque.

Lujan Grisham, first elected in 2012, drew no Democratic primary opposition Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 3rd Congressional District Rep. Ben Ray Luján, seeking a fourth term, drew an unannounced primary election challenge from Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney Robert Blanch of Albuquerque.

The winner of that race will go on to face Republican candidate Jefferson Byrd, a Tucumcari rancher who fell short in a 2012 bid for the seat against Luján.

In the race for governor, all five Democratic candidates who previously had announced plans to seek the party’s nomination filed election paperwork to qualify for the primary election ballot.

The Democratic governor hopefuls are state Attorney General Gary King of Moriarty, state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, longtime government administrator Lawrence Rael of Albuquerque and businessman Alan Webber of Santa Fe.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez made her re-election bid official Tuesday. No Republican candidate filed to challenge her in the GOP primary.

However, Republicans are lining up for a primary fight for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall. Albuquerque business owner Allen Weh and Las Cruces attorney David Clements filed for the GOP nomination to take on Udall. Udall did not draw a primary opponent.

In the southern New Mexico 2nd Congressional District, La Luz lawyer Leslie Endean-Singh and Carlsbad lawyer Roxanne “Rocky” Lara will seek the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who filed to seek a sixth term.

Other candidates filing Tuesday included:

• Attorney general: Democrat Hector Balderas of Albuquerque; Republicans James Baiamonte of Albuquerque and Susan Riedel of Las Cruces

• Treasurer: Democrats Tim Eichenberg of Albuquerque, Patrick Padilla of Tijeras and John Wertheim of Albuquerque; Republican Rick Lopez of Santa Fe.

• Secretary of state: Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver of Albuquerque; Republican incumbent Dianna Duran of Tularosa.

• Auditor: Democrat Tim Keller of Albuquerque; Republican Robert Aragon of Albuquerque

• Lt. governor: Democrats Debra Haaland of Albuquerque and Marie Julienne of Albuquerque; Republican incumbent John Sanchez of Albuquerque.

• Land commissioner: Democratic incumbent Ray Powell of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque; Republican Aubrey Dunn of Capitan.

• Appeals Court judge: Democrat Kerry Kiernan of Albuquerque; Republican incumbent Miles Hanisee of Albuquerque.

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