Albuquerque Journal Article

March 29, 2012

Dem Senate Candidate Quits Race, Backs Rival

By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012

Veteran politico Steve Gallegos has dropped out of the race for an Albuquerque state Senate seat, throwing his support to young newcomer Jacob Candelaria.

Gallegos became the second high-profile Democrat to bail from the West Side District 26 race since candidates filed on Wednesday. Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, who currently holds the seat, changed her mind two days after she filed.

Gallegos’ departure leaves two Democrats in the contest: Candelaria and Carlos Villanueva. No Republicans filed, according to the secretary of state.

Gallegos, a former Albuquerque city councilor and Bernalillo County commissioner, told the Journal on Monday that he decided to collect signatures and file for the seat when Sanchez was vacillating about seeking election to a fourth term. He had worked as sergeant-at-arms for the Senate for three years and saw Sanchez’s possible departure as a “one-time” opportunity, he said.

But Gallegos, 59, who has also been a lobbyist and a consultant, said he began feeling “kind of hypocritical” about running against Candelaria, 25. Gallegos said he has long supported youth development programs and encouraged young people to run for office. Candelaria, whom he has known since childhood, is intelligent and honest, he said.

“I just thought: ‘Out with the old; in with the new,’ ” Gallegos said.

Candelaria is the director of Equality New Mexico, a group that promotes gay and lesbian civil rights, and has worked at the Legislature.

Sanchez cited political gridlock at the Capitol and health concerns as reasons for her decision.

***This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal