McDaniel wins primary for Republican magistrate judge spot

Biel beats Risley for Republican probate judge spot

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Gary McDaniel won the Republican Division 1 magistrate judge race with 1,320 votes to Erich Cole's 844 votes with Frank Dart taking 247 votes.
  • Stacey Biel won the Republican probate judge race with 3,509 votes with Gary Risley getting 3,389 votes and Brandt Thrower coming in third with 1,959 votes.
  • Four of the magistrate judge races had incumbent candidates who ran unopposed in Tuesday's primary election.
Gary McDaniel

FARMINGTON — Republican Gary McDaniel won the primary for the Republican Division 1 magistrate judge spot, and Stacey Biel won a tight victory over Gary Risley for the Republican probate judge position during Tuesday's primary election.

McDaniel won with 1,320 votes to incumbent Erich Cole's 844 votes with Frank Dart taking 247 votes, according to unofficial results.

Cole was appointed to the bench by Gov. Susana Martinez on Dec. 22 and sworn in Jan. 5 by Karen Townsend, chief judge for the 11th Judicial District Court.

The spot was vacated by former Magistrate judge Connie Johnston, who was removed from the bench and permanently barred from holding a judicial office statewide by the New Mexico Supreme Court on Oct. 23.

McDaniel previously served as a magistrate judge for San Juan County.

"I appreciate all the voters exercising their right provided to them by the Constitution," McDaniel said.

He thanked his supporters and said he is eager for the November general election, where he has not drawn an opponent.

The top two candidates for the Republican probate judge position were within about 120 votes of each other.

Biel won with 3,518 votes with Risley getting 3,392 votes and Brandt Thrower coming in third with 1,965 votes, according to unofficial results.

Incumbent Larry Thrower reached his term limits for the bench and could not run again.

Stacey Biel

Biel has previously served as a magistrate judge and ascended to the bench in January 2005.

She thanked everyone who voted for her and said she appreciated their support.

"It was very gratifying going door to door and meeting the different people in our county," Biel said.

Biel is set to run unopposed in the November general election.

Tuesday's results must still be made official, and any candidate for a county-level office can request a recount within six days of election results being certified, according to spokesperson Joey Keefe of the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office.

In the Magistrate Judge Division 4 race, incumbent Democrat Trudy Chase will face Republican Melvin Sam in November.

Four of the magistrate judge races had incumbent candidates who ran unopposed in Tuesday's primary election and will run unopposed in the November general election.

Those candidates are Republican Rena Scott in Division 2, Republican Mark Steven Hawkinson in Division 3, Republican Pat Cordell in Division 5 and Republican Barry Sharer in Division 6.

The Division 3 district judge seat for the 11th Judicial District will be on the ballot for the November general election.

Incumbent Eleventh Judicial District Judge for Division 3 Sarah Weaver plans to run as a write-in candidate after the New Mexico Supreme Court on April 17 affirmed her removal from the primary election and disqualified her from the ballot. Weaver's nominating petition forms were disqualified by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver's Office because they did not list her division number.

The general election write-in candidate file date is set for June 28.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at