Jeff Apodaca – a former television executive and the son of a governor – launched his first campaign for public office Tuesday, plunging into the wide-open race to succeed Gov. Susana Martinez.
Apodaca, a Democrat from Albuquerque, said he never expected to enter the political world himself. He was 12 when his father, Jerry, also a Democrat, took office in the mid-1970s and moved the family from Las Cruces to Santa Fe.
“I’m not running because of my dad’s legacy. I’m not running because it’s my turn,” Apodaca said in a Journal interview. “I’m running to turn around New Mexico.”
Apodaca joins U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the race to win the Democratic nomination for governor next year. The primary election will be in June and more candidates are expected to enter the race in coming months.
Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for re-election because of term limits.
Apodaca, 55, has worked for CBS, AOL and Univision and he now has a consulting company that invests in startups.
That experience in the business world, Apodaca said, would be an asset in the Governor’s Office. He said he knows firsthand the importance of teaching New Mexico children the skills they’ll need to find good jobs.
New Mexico has had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for three months in a row, according to figures released in April.
Apodaca said he wants to make New Mexico a more favorable environment for business growth, especially to retain more of the state’s homegrown entrepreneurs who might otherwise leave.
And New Mexico’s sunny weather, he said, should make it a leader in solar power, allowing for the sale of energy to other states.
Apodaca grew up in Las Cruces and Santa Fe but now lives in Albuquerque with his wife and children.
His father, Jerry Apodaca, served as governor from 1975 to 1979.
Jeff Apodaca’s time with Entravision – a Spanish-language media company that owns and operates Univision affiliates – ended last year, triggering litigation.
Apodaca sued Entravision and two of its executives, alleging breach of contract and wrongful separation. Each side accused the other of wrongdoing, and the case was later dismissed because “the matter had been resolved,” according to Apodaca’s attorney at the time.
Besides Apodaca and Lujan Grisham, other potential Democratic candidates include state Attorney General Hector Balderas, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber.
Potential Republican candidates include U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez.
Apodaca said he will stand out partly because he’s not a career politician.
“I think our state needs a change,” he said.