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Serna wins Democratic Santa Fe DA race; Stefanics, Trujillo, Salazar win area legislative primaries

 

SANTA FE — Marco Serna, son of well-known northern New Mexico political figure Eric Serna, appears to have staked out his own ground in elective politics by winning the Democratic nomination for district attorney in the 1st Judicial District.

According to unofficial results from the district’s Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties, Marco Serna, 33, defeated former state Attorney General’s Office lawyer Maria Sanchez-Gagne and incumbent district attorney Jennifer Padgett.

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Marco Serna

Vote tallies showed Serna won by about 1,120 votes out of about 38,200 tallied. He had 35 percent of the vote, compared to Sanchez-Gagne’s 33 percent and Padgett just behind at 32 percent. In Rio Arriba County, Serna accumulated more votes than his two opponents combined.

Serna will face Republican Yvonne Chicoine in the November general election and will be the favorite in the heavily Democratic district.

3rd Congressional District

Retired law enforcement officer Michael Romero of Taos won the GOP nomination in northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Romero was ahead of challenger Michael Lucero with more than 60 percent of the vote and will take on four-term incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of the Santa Fe area. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1 in the expansive northern New Mexico district.

The race marks Romero’s first foray into politics. He served in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Grants High School. Following a stint with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, Romero worked with the police department in Las Vegas, Nev.

Democratic legislative races

  • In a big-money legislative race, two-term Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics was leading the four-candidate Democratic primary in sprawling, multi-county state Senate District 39 over former county commissioner Mike Anaya, Pecos-area store owner and outfitter Hugh Ley and Ambrose Castellano of Bernal. In November, the Democratic nominee faces Sen. Ted Barela, a Republican who was appointed to the seat last year after veteran Democratic senator Phil Griego resigned over his role in a state government real estate deal that resulted in pending criminal charges against him.
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Liz Stefanics

Stefanics had close to 39 percent of the vote, with Anaya in second place at about 23 percent. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I was hoping we would not have a squeaker and have a definitive win. I think 1,000 votes is pretty definitive.”

A surprise in the race was Ley’s fourth place finish. Ley, a former San Miguel County commissioner, raised and spent more than $69,000 on his campaign, a huge amount for a New Mexico legislative race. Stefanics raised $70,300.

– School board member Linda Trujillo defeated two competitors for Santa Fe’s state House of Representatives District 48 seat that opened up when incumbent Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, in office for three decades, decided not to run for re-election. With more than 39 percent of the vote, Trujillo finished well ahead of former Santa Fe County Commissioner Paul Campos and Jeff Varela, the incumbent’s son. There is no Republican candidate.

“My team of volunteers and I have spent a lot of time and energy to find out what community members’ concerns were,” Trujillo said late Tuesday night. “I do believe (I won) because we went out and met with them face to face. We’ve worked really hard, and I can get some sleep now.”

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Linda Trujillo

  • State Rep. Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico’s longest serving legislator with 44 years in office, got a decisive win over challenger Barney Trujillo of Chimayó, a Rio Arriba County commissioner. A would-be Republican candidate failed to qualify for the race. Salazar racked up more 57 percent of the vote.

Toss-up race for DA

The Democratic race for district attorney in the 1st Judicial District appeared to be a toss-up going into election day, and each candidate showed different strengths in Tuesday’s results. Padgett won Los Alamos County with more than 44 percent of the votes, but the Democratic turnout there was small, only totaling about 2,200 votes. In Santa Fe County, the three candidates were bunched closely together, with Sanchez-Gagne winning by a small margin over Padgett, but Serna’s big win in Rio Arriba decided the race.

Serna has worked as a lawyer for the state Risk Management Division, a prosecutor and most recently as an assistant attorney general prosecuting Medicaid fraud and elder abuse. He is the son of longtime Santa Fe political figure and former state insurance superintendent Eric Serna, who left that office in 2006 amid controversy and investigations over contributions to a charity that Serna helped start by insurance companies and a bank that did business with the Insurance Division.

Padgett was appointed district attorney as of Jan. 1 by Gov. Susana Martinez after former DA Angela “Spence” Pacheco retired. She changed her voter registration from independent to Democrat to make the primary race.

SF County races

There were three Santa Fe County government positions on Tuesday’s ballot. In the race for the District 2 seat on the County Commission, incumbent Miguel Chavez, a woodworker and former Santa Fe city councilor, lost by about 4 percentage points to challenger Anna Hansen, who owns a design and consulting business. For the District 5 commission seat, being vacated by state Senate candidate Stefanics, facilitation consultant and former journalist Ed Moreno handily defeated Charlie Dalton, a retired Santa Fe police lieutenant. Incumbent County Clerk Geraldine Salazar won an easy victory over Letitia Montoya, who has run unsuccessfully for elective office several times previously.

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