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Longest-serving lawmaker undecided on another run

New Mexico’s longest-serving legislator, Rep. Nick Salazar, hasn’t decided whether he’ll seek re-election next year to a 23rd term in the House of Representatives – but at least one potential opponent isn’t waiting for him to make up his mind.

Barney Trujillo, a Rio Arriba County commissioner, recently announced that he plans to run for the House District 40 seat that Salazar, an Ohkay Owingeh resident, has held since 1973.

In a news release, Trujillo said he was “honored” to follow in the footsteps of Salazar. However, Salazar said in a subsequent interview he still hasn’t ruled out running for another two-year term.

“I have not made my decision yet – it’s kind of early to do that,” Salazar told the Journal.

Salazar, 86, was briefly hospitalized during this year’s 60-day legislative session, but he said that his health is fine and that he walks several miles every day. He said he expects to decide in the next month or so about whether to seek re-election.

Both Trujillo and Salazar are Democrats, meaning they would face off in the June 2016 primary election if Salazar were to run.

As of earlier this year, Salazar was one of about a dozen legislators around the country who had completed at least 42 years of legislative service, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Cash for PACs: An Oklahoma City-based energy company appears to have taken a keen interest in New Mexico’s 2016 legislative races.

Devon Energy Corp. gave campaign contributions totaling $80,200 to eight pro-Republican political action committees within the past three months, according to online reports filed this week with the Secretary of State’s Office.

All but one of the political donations were for $10,800, the maximum allowable total amount for the 2016 election cycle under New Mexico’s campaign contribution limits.

The eight pro-GOP political committees included PACs run by House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, and Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park.

Devon Energy is an oil and gas exploration company that has previously given campaign cash to New Mexico legislative candidates, mostly Republicans. Its operations include wells in the Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico.

On Sanders’ team: Jim Farrell, a veteran New Mexico political consultant who previously worked for Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign in Iowa, recently began work as Bernie Sanders’ state director in Nevada.

Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” is a U.S. senator from Vermont whose bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination has gained traction in recent weeks.

Farrell was the campaign manager for 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gary King, but stepped down from the job after King won the primary election in order to spend more time with his family in Las Cruces.

More recently, Farrell worked for New Mexico Senate Democrats during this year’s 60-day session.

Dan Boyd:

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