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The Latest: Former lawmaker abandons bid amid accusations

March 13, 2018

Democratic New Mexico state Rep. Tomas Salazar of Las Vegas, N.M., center, registers to run for re-election at the Secretary of State's Office in Santa Fe, N.M., Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Major-party candidates seeking election or re-election to the New Mexico House of Representatives, the state's utility-oversight commission and local judicial seats registered to run for office on Tuesday with state and county election regulators. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on New Mexico election candidates (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

A former Democratic state lawmakers who has denied recent accusations of sexual misconduct during his time in the Legislature says he has abandoned immediate plans to run for office again.

Former Democratic Rep. Thomas Garcia of Las Vegas, N.M., said Tuesday that he had collected petition signatures to run for election to the House of Representatives but decided not to run because of business and family obligations.

In December, registered lobbyist Vanessa Alarid publicly accused Garcia of offering to vote for a bill in 2009 if she would have sex with him — allegations he denies.

Garcia says he is not done with politics even though he won’t run for office this year. He left the Legislature in 2012.

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12:20 p.m.

New Mexico Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes says she will not seek re-election this fall.

The two-term Republican told the Albuquerque Journal on Monday that she needed more time to spend with her family.

Maestas Barnes represents a key swing district, which has been considered one of the state’s most competitive districts. The Albuquerque-area district has been held by five people since 2001.

The state representative has endorsed Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter to take over her seat.

Maestas Barnes was first elected in 2014. She was one of the few Republican lawmakers in swing districts to fend off Democratic challengers in 2016 — the year Democrats reclaimed control of the state House.

Her term expires in January.

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12:20 a.m.

The political composition of the New Mexico House of Representatives is at stake as major party candidates file to run in June primary elections.

The Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday was collecting signature petitions from candidates seeking election or re-election to the House of Representatives and the Public Regulation Commission that oversees investor-owned utilities, the transportation industry and telecommunications. Three commission seats out of five are up for election.

The House has 70 seats, with a 38-seat majority controlled by Democrats. Republicans last won a House majority in 2014 elections, interrupting six decades of Democratic control. Senate elections take place in 2020.

The Libertarian Party also will appear on primary ballots as a major party after failed presidential candidate Gary Johnson won more than 5 percent of the 2016 vote.

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