SANTA FE – Democratic State Rep. Ernest Chavez announced Monday he won’t run for re-election to his southwest Albuquerque House seat.
Chavez missed the entire 30-day legislative session – which ended Thursday – because of health problems. He cited that and his age, 77, as factors in his decision.
“I tried to do as much as I could during my recent illness, but the healing process is much slower because of my age,” Chavez said in a statement released by the House Democratic leadership. “I feel the best thing I can do for my constituents is to step aside.”
Chavez, who has been in the House for ten years, is the sixth House member to announce a decision not to run again this year. They include House Majority Leader Rick Miera, also an Albuquerque Democrat.
The candidate filing date for the 70-member House is March 11. Members of the Senate don’t run until 2016.
Chavez didn’t provide specifics about his illness, but House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, had said during the session that Chavez was suffering from swelling, perhaps from a spider bite.
His absence during the session and that of another lawmaker, Rep. Phillip Archuleta, D-Las Cruces, made for close votes in the House, where Democrats have a 37-33 edge. The first vote on a state budget was a 34-34 tie after a Democrat voted with the GOP; a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage fell three votes short of the required 36.
Chavez plans to serve out his term, which ends Dec. 31.
Other lawmakers not running for re-election this year: former House Republican Leader Tom Taylor of Farmington; Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis; Rep. Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, D-Albuquerque; and Rep. Nate Cote, D-Organ.