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ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico Democrat and Republican voters were choosing their parties’ nominees for lieutenant governor Tuesday, selecting from a pool of state legislators and former lawmakers.
In the GOP race, all three candidates have served in the Legislature: Brian Moore of Clayton, Kent Cravens of Albuquerque and John Sanchez of Albuquerque.
Candidates in Democratic lineup included former state party chairman Brian Colon of Albuquerque, retired governmental agency administrator Lawrence Rael of Albuquerque and three legislators — Jose Campos of Santa Rosa, Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque and Linda Lopez of Albuquerque.
The seat was open because Lt. Gov. Diane Denish pursued the Democratic nomination for governor.
Denish was elected twice as lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket with Gov. Bill Richardson, who is term-limited and can’t seek re-election.
The crowded primary field featured the most lieutenant governor candidates on the ballot since 1990, when six Democrats and two Republicans ran. Winners of the June 1 primary become the running mates of their party’s gubernatorial nominee.
Lieutenant governors are paid $85,000 a year. Despite a flurry of campaign broadcast advertisements where candidates promised to fight crime, improve education or take on other emotional issues, the powers of the office are limited.
The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate when it’s in session. When the governor leaves New Mexico, the lieutenant governor temporarily is in charge of the state.
If a governor dies or resigns, the lieutenant
governor moves up, but that has happened only three times since New Mexico became a state in 1912.
Otherwise, the lieutenant governor’s job depends largely on assignments handed out by the governor.