District 40 Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, is the first person to announce their candidacy for Congressional District 3.
He announced his decision to run Monday in posts to his campaign Facebook and Twitter pages.
“I was born and raised here and I just love the district,” Sanchez said in a Tuesday interview. “I love Northern New Mexico. There is nothing I would like more than to help us move forward. To help our people move forward.”
Sanchez is a freshman legislator who just finished his fist legislative session at the Roundhouse.
He said he learned a lot about the issues important to people in Northern New Mexico during his state House campaign.
In his announcement letter, Sanchez touts himself as a “rancher for ranchers” and someone who understands the importance of music and arts education, as well an engineer “who advocates for advances and access to the latest technology.”
Sanchez is a senior electrical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He also plays saxophone in his family’s band Los Blue Ventures.
He previously worked as the general manager for the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative.
Sanchez said he is an advocate for renewable energy and the environment.
He tempered his comments by saying the state must continue the leverage the oil and gas resources it has already developed.
“I think we have to do a parallel path, so both,” he said. “We have to continue down the path where we are going full speed ahead on renewables, but the same reason we were able to fund our education was because of oil and gas.”
The state will eventually reach a point where it switches to just renewables, he said.
He also wants to focus on land rights issues and wants to ensure ranchers can continue to graze their animals on public land.
“We also need to make sure we take care of our environments and we are sensitive to the culture and the people who use the land right now,” he said.
During the legislative session, Sanchez sponsored two bills to make solar energy more accessible.
The Solar Energy Improvement Assessments, which he co-sponsored with Rep. Abbas Akhil, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Debra Sariñan, D-Albuquerque, was signed March 28 by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Sanchez also referred to himself as a “coalition builder” in his announcement letter.
When asked to expand on what a coalition builder is, he said one example is the need to build a regional water system.
“I’ve been talking to the different mutual domestics along with the Valley, along with the pueblos, along with the city and along with the (Rio Arriba County),” he said.
In places like his hometown of Alcalde, people cannot drink the water due to nitrate pollution from septic tanks, he said.
While Sanchez frames himself as a rural candidate, he will have to win over urban voters to win the Congressional District 3 spot.
Congressional District 3 is a mix of rural and urban areas. It includes Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Corrales, as well as the far northern parts of the state with places such as Chama, Dulce and a large swath of the Navajo Nation.
Sanchez may not be popular with some of the more progressive Santa Fe voters.
He was one of six Democrats who crossed party lines and vote with Republicans against a bill to decriminalize abortion.
He also voted against a bill to expand the categories of people in the state who cannot own, purchase or possess a firearm. He voted in favor of a bill to require training for armed public school security personnel. He was excused from the House vote on a bill to expand background checks for gun sales.
Lujan for senate?
Sanchez said he decided to run when he learned current Congressional District 3 Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was running for Senate.
Sanchez said he did call Lujan before his announcement, but only to inquire if he planned to enter the Senate race.
“At that point, he still had not decided if he was going to run for Senate,” Sanchez said.
Lujan announced his campaign Monday. This comes only a week after Sen. Tom Udall announced his retirement and decision to not run for re-election in 2020.
“To move forward, we’ve got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress,” Lujan said in his announcement video.
Lujan has been the representative for Congressional District 3 since 2008 and became the House deputy speaker in November 2018.
So far, Lujan’s official Senate campaign website does not provide any new information not already in his video or press releases.
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