Candidates On June 2 Primary Ballot; Many Incumbents Get “Free Rides”; N.M. Secretary of State Should Plan For Mail In Voting For June 2 Primary

In the political world, “free ride” is the term used for candidates for office who do not have any opponents, either in a primary or general election. The term free ride also means in part that a candidate for office does not have to run around and collect campaign donations or spend their own money to get reelected. All the candidates who get a free ride have to do is show up and vote for themselves and they win!

All too often, candidates who get free rides like to proclaim they have no opponent’s because they have done such a fantastic job that they have run off any any all opponents. No one has the heart to tell some of them that the reason they have no opponent’s is not that they have done a such a fantastic job, but that no one wants their jobs in the first place considering the jobs as thankless. Notwithstanding, those who run for office and who are willing to serve in any capacity need to be thanked for showing a willingness to run and subject themselves and their families to scrutiny by the public and the press.

March 10 was the filing day for, Bernalillo County Commission, County Judges, the District Attorney, County Clerk and County Treasurer offices and the New Mexico House and State Senate. The majority of the candidates running for another term have ‘free rides” some only in the primary and others also in the general election.


Following are the various positions and those who declared their candidacies who will appear on the June 2 ballot:

Bernalillo County District Attorney: Incumbent Democrat Raul Torrez is unopposed for a second term in both the June 2 primary and the November 3 general election.

Bernalillo County Clerk: Incumbent Democrat Linda Stover is unopposed for a second term in both the June 2 primary and the November 3 general election.

County Treasurer: Incumbent Democrat Nancy Bearce, Democrats Donny Albert Daniels, Patrick Padilla and Bernadette Sanchez. No Republicans filed so whoever is elected in the Democratic Party primary wins the general election.


There are 3 seats on the 5 member Bernalillo County Commission up for election.

District 2 Commissioner: Incumbent Democrat Stephen Michael Quezada and Democrats Frank Baca and Rudy Zamora. No Republican filed so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 2 is elected.

District 3 Commissioner: Democrats Adriann Barboa, Adrian Neal Carver and Marcos Gonzales. No Republican filed so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 2 is elected.

(Editor’s Note: County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins resigned from the District 3 Commission seat to take a state government job. County Commissioner Jim Collie was appointed to the District 3 seat to replace Hart Stebbins but agreed not to run for the seat as a condition for the appointment bt the Governor).

District 4 Commissioner: Republican two term County Commissioner Lonnie Talbet, the only Republican on the County Commission, cannot run for another term because of term limits. Former Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins, who served from 2000 to 2008 and Republicans George Benson, Sean Kesani and Tina Tomlin Have filed in the Republican primary and Democrats Felix Nuñez and Wende Schwingendorf have filed in the Democratic primary for the District 4 seat.


Division 6 judge in the 2nd Judicial District: Democrat Daniel Ramczyk, who is the current Division 6 Judge and who was appointed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is opposed by former Metropolitan Court Judge Edward Benavidez who lost his reelection bid in the 2018 when he failed to win a retention election.

Democrat Metro Court Judge Courtney Weaks is challenging incumbent Republican District Judge Daniel Gallegos.

State law requires newly appointed judges to run in the general election immediately after their appointment in order to keep their appointed positions.

Four District Court judges, Lisa Chavez Ortega, Erin O’Connell, Amber Chavez Baker and Joshua Allison are running unopposed to stay in their positions, as are Metro Court judges Brittany Maldonado Malott, Jason Jaramillo, Felicia Blea-Rivera and David Murphy.


All 112 of New Mexico’s legislative seats are on the ballot this year. The current breakdown in the New Mexico House of Representatives is 46 Democrats and 24 Republicans. The current breakdown in the New Mexico Senate is 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
A total of 9 of those seats will have new legislators because the incumbents have decided to retire or are running for another office. Many incumbent legislators who in the past have run without opposition have opponents this election year.


Powerful Senate Democrats facing opposition in their primary include Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee Chairman Clemente Sanchez of Grants and Senate Finance Committee Vice Chairman George Muñoz of Gallup. These Senate Democrats are conservative leaning and side often with Republicans in a coalition to defeat progressive legislation and allocations.

Two Democratic senators appointed to fill a vacancy by county commissions will face primary challenges as they seek election to hold on to their seats. Senator Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi, Senate District 3, who succeeded her grandfather, John Pinto, after he past away last year, faces challenges from Democrats Dineh Benally of Shiprock and Shawn Nelson of Gamerco.

In Senate District 28, Senator Gabriel Ramos of Silver City will face Democrat Siah Correa Hemphill, also of Silver City

Republican Senator Fulfer is among the incumbents facing a challenge from within his own party. He was appointed by then Republican Governor “She Who Must Not Be Named” to the Senate in late 2018.


In House District 50, Representative Matthew McQueen of Galisteo is opposing Democrat Rebecca King Spindle, a rancher from Stanley and granddaughter of former Governor Bruce King.

In House District 65, Representative Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo is opposed by former State Representative James Roger Madalena of Jemez Pueblo in the Democratic primary.

Madalena is one of several ex-lawmakers seeking to return to the Legislature. The others include Republican Ricky Little of Chaparral and Democrats Shannon Robinson of Albuquerque and Ben Rodefer of Corrales.


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s statewide stay-at-home order for non-essential workers runs through April 10 as a result of the Corona virus outbreak. Some states are already delaying their primaries because of the virus outbreak. It is more likely than not that the outbreak will continue beyond New Mexico’s June 2 primary with some medical experts saying the outbreak will continue through July.

Early voting scheduled to begin in 6 weeks and requires staffing voting sites in every county. If there is a large voter turnout, voting will be complicated with the “social distancing” of 6 feet being recommended to combat the spread of the corona virus. There is also no guarantee voters would even show up an result in a very low voter turnout. Then there is the problem with poll workers, many who are dedicated to the jobs and are over 60 years old and in the high-risk category for the virus. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver needs to seriously consider as a viable option conducting a statewide vote by mail primary. Hopefully by November, 2020, the pandemic crisis will be over and the general election can proceed as normal.

Unless of course our war time President decides to declare marshal law, cancel the election and appoint himself President for life. Don’t laugh too hard, it could happen with our “clown in chief”.



The following article was published 8 hours after today’s blog article:

Clerks seek emergency court action for all-mail voting

Monday, March 30th, 2020 at 3:30pm

SANTA FE — More than two dozen of New Mexico’s county clerks asked the state Supreme Court on Monday for an emergency order that would allow them to move to a mail-in election for the June 2 primary.
The clerks said they otherwise face an impossible choice — putting voters’ and election workers’ lives at risk or violating their oath of office.

“The state of New Mexico faces a public health emergency unprecedented in modern times,” the clerks said in an their emergency petition, filed Monday.

An attorney for Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico’s chief election officer, also signed onto the petition.

The 27 clerks — mostly Democrats but also including five Republicans — argued that poll workers are scared to work and that election sites, such as schools, are already closed with no plans to re-open.

An immediate special legislative session to change election procedures isn’t practical amid the pandemic, the clerks argue, and they are beseeching the court for permission to hold the election by mail.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.