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Politics Notebook: ‘Lucky’ Varela wants to pass baton to son

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Longtime Democratic State Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela has made it official: He won’t run for re-election and he wants his son, Jeff Varela, to succeed him in the District 48 seat in Santa Fe.

Rep. Varela, an expert on the state’s budget and finances, is a retired state employee who has been a strong advocate for state workers during his 29 years in the House.

The 80-year-old lawmaker was forced to skip much of the legislative session this year after an infection in his right foot required the amputation of his toes, and it was expected he would not run for office again in 2016.

Jeff Varela has worked for various state agencies, including the State Personnel Office – where he was director – the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Regulation and Licensing Department.

He also was on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association and served as its chairman.

For the past three years, he has been a self-employed consultant, working with state and nonprofit organizations on workplace issues, such as job analyses, compensation analyses, legislative analyses and salary structure.

The elder Varela said he has worked to help New Mexicans get jobs and “navigate through the bureaucracy of state government,” and that his son – who has helped him over two decades with many government-related issues – would follow in those footsteps.

SALES PITCH: Gov. Susana Martinez and economic development officials are in Northern California pitching New Mexico to corporate executives, her office said Monday.

The governor is accompanied by Chief of Staff Keith Gardner, Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, and Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford, along with officials from the city of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque Economic Development, according to her spokesman.

The trip was partly organized by the New Mexico Partnership, the marketing arm of the state Economic Development Department. Her office said the partnership is picking up the travel tab for the governor and Gardner.

Martinez left Sunday evening and is scheduled to return to New Mexico on Wednesday.

Deborah Baker: