FARMINGTON — The race for District 1 in the New Mexico House of Representatives is set after Rodney "Rod" Montoya narrowly defeated Karen Bayless in the Republican primary on Tuesday.
Montoya will face Democrat Alfred Gordon Glass in the general election in November.
"I knew it was going to be a tough race. Karen comes from a very well-known family. I'm glad to win this thing," Montoya said in a phone interview.
With all of the precincts reporting, Montoya won with 51 percent of the votes or 1,425 ballots. Bayless had 1,316 votes, or 49 percent of the vote.
Montoya touted his experience as the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Jon Sanchez during the campaign. He said he would like to work on bringing a railhead to the Four Corners while protecting the energy economy.
In an earlier interview, he said a railhead would diversify the local economy, create manufacturing jobs and allow area companies to export their products.
However, he said his focus now is the general election.
Although San Juan County is usually a Republican stronghold, Montoya said he isn't entering the race with assumptions.
"I'm not going to take that for granted. I'm going to run and go out there and win this race," he said.
He noted the primary was costly for his campaign.
Montoya was also pleased with the number of voters who came to the polls for the primary. He and Bayless split more than 2,700 votes.
"We were expecting 2,200 votes," he said.
Montoya said he is thankful to his supporters in the primary election.
"I want to thank the folks who encouraged me to run in the first place. This wasn't even my idea," he said.
Looking forward, Montoya said he will take what he has learned about campaigning from the primary and apply it to the general election.
"I know what I did that was effective," he said.
Without a Republican in the race, the winner of Tuesday's Democratic primary between Doreen Johnson and Charles Long will likely hold the District 5 seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday with 17 of 25 precincts reporting, Johnson had a sizable lead over Long. She had garnered 55 percent, or 1,386 votes, while Long had 1,128 votes, or 45 percent.
The race was still too close to call because of the number of precincts still reporting results.
Both candidates were unavailable for comment.
The winner is expected to face Democratic incumbent Sandra Jeff. Jeff was disqualified from running in the primary but said on Tuesday she plans to run as a write-in candidate.
"My voters are excited," she said in a text message.
Another close race was the Democratic primary in District 65 in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
With 19 of 21 precincts reporting, James Madalena had 1,283 votes, or 55 percent, and was leading Orlando Lucero, who had 1,069 votes, or 45 percent.
Madalena could not be reached for comment.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.