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Primary likely will decide two House races

SANTA FE – In a pair of New Mexico House districts that cover solid Republican territory, GOP candidates are vying for the right to succeed two longtime state legislators who will step down at the end of this year.

Both Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, and Rep. William “Bill” Gray, R-Artesia, have endorsed candidates in the races for their seats, and no Democrats have filed to run in either of the two districts.

That means the June 3 primary election will likely decide the House District 54 and House District 64 races, though write-in, independent or minor party candidates could file next month to run in the general election.

RICHARDSON: More local control of fed lands

RICHARDSON: More local control of fed lands

In District 54, which encompasses a swath of southeastern New Mexico’s oil patch, James “Jim” Townsend and Pam Richardson, both of Artesia, are seeking the Republican Party primary nomination.

Gray, a four-term lawmaker, has endorsed Townsend, a retired oil company executive who he worked with in the past.

Both Townsend and Richardson say that, if elected, they would focus on water and energy issues.

Among other things, Richardson, a small business owner and lay pastor, said she would fight for more local control of federally owned land in New Mexico.

TOWNSEND: Highways in “terrible shape”

TOWNSEND: Highways in “terrible shape”

Townsend’s priorities include improving the condition of southeast New Mexico’s roads and highways, which he said are in “terrible shape” due to heavy traffic that is linked to the region’s booming energy industry.

Meanwhile, in House District 64, Randy Crowder and Wade Lopez, both of Clovis, are squaring off for the eastern New Mexico seat that Crook has held since 1995.

Crook, who formerly served as the House GOP caucus chairwoman, has endorsed Crowder in the race, calling him very “conscientious” and “detailed.”

Crowder, a builder/developer and Clovis city councilor, has outraised Lopez in the race, reporting having more than $4,400 in his campaign account, compared to just $300 for his opponent, as of earlier this month.

He said water issues would be his top priority in the Legislature and touted his experience as a member of the Interstate Stream Commission as significant in that regard.

Lopez, a manager and sales specialist, ran unsuccessfully against Crook in the 2010 and 2012 primary elections. He did not immediately return Journal calls seeking comment.