State representative would have to give up his seat to run for top job
State Rep. Antonio Maestas said Monday he is unlikely to run for governor, even though he considers incumbent Republican Susana Martinez to be vulnerable.
Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said in an interview that he was "still mulling" a run for the state's top office in 2014, but the odds were against it because he would have to relinquish his seat in the House of Representatives.
"It's something worth considering. But at this point, I'm contributing to the House," said Maestas, right.
House members have two-year terms, meaning Maestas could not keep his seat if he entered the 2014 governor's race.
In contrast, state senators have four-year terms. All of them will be in the middle of their terms when the race for governor occurs.
Maestas said this gives them a built-in advantage over him. Any senator who runs for governor and loses will still have a seat in the Legislature.
State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, already has announced that she is running for governor. Fellow Democratic senators Howie Morales of Silver City and Timothy Keller of Albuquerque also say they are considering gubernatorial campaigns.
"I've gotten a very positive response, but I don't have a decision yet," Morales said Monday.
Maestas said running for governor was tempting because Martinez is vulnerable.
"I'd love to debate the governor on her economic record and her lack of accomplishments," he said.
Maestas said he had not talked with Lopez or Morales about the governor's race, but he had spoken with Keller a few times.
"Keller wants to do it. I understand that. Whoever wins the Democratic Party nomination is going to be the next governor," Maestas said.
Maestas, 44, recently got married and has a private law practice.
A former prosecutor in Bernalillo County, he has been a House member for seven years and made a mark with crime and justice bills.
Working single-handedly, Maestas in 2012 got through a bill to remove the state public defender's staff from the governor's control.
Voters then approved his idea for a stand-alone public defender office as a constitutional amendment. Legislators passed the enabling law this year.
Also in 2013, Maestas sponsored a bill to increase state tax rebates for producers who shoot television series in New Mexico.
Martinez initally vetoed his bill, but she signed it after it was revived and packaged with a measure to reduce the state's corporate tax rate, one of her legislative priorities.