New Mexico AG candidate Raúl Torrez says he'll work to expand 'litigation capacity' of office
NEW MEXICO – Democrat Raúl Torrez of Albuquerque and Republican Jeremy Gay of Gallup will be on the ballot this November to become the state's next attorney general.
The state's residents will select the new AG, who prosecutes cases on behalf of New Mexicans as well as serving as chief legal counsel for the state’s executive branch of government. The Office of the Attorney General also works with the 13 district attorneys’ offices across the state, to prosecute criminal charges.
According to the AG's website, the office is responsible for a budget of about $18 million to $22 million each year via state appropriation. Roughly 200 employees serve the department.
Outgoing Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, has held the position for eight years and is not eligible for reelection.
Torrez is the Democratic challenger in the attorney general race. He currently serves as the Bernalillo County District Attorney, a position he has held since being elected in 2020. He beat his fellow Democratic challenger in the state AG's race, current New Mexico State Auditor Brian S. Colón, in the June primary by over 9,000 votes.
Torrez explained that his vision is a “dramatic expansion of the litigation capacity of the attorney general’s office.” His plan includes investing in resources which will allow the office to be more proactive in the protection of consumers, the state’s natural resources and other investigative and litigious capacities.
“It's time for the size and scale of the agency to match what I think New Mexicans expect from the top legal officer in the state,” Torrez said. “Over the last several years we've become fairly reliant on outside counsel to drive and determine which cases are brought on behalf of the state, in part because we don't have adequate resources inside the office to really tackle the authorities and, frankly, the challenges that we've identified over the last 20 or 30 years.”
Two current programs Torrez highlighted as ones he plans to continue and expand on are, one, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives epidemic, and two, cracking down on organized retail crime. He added that the latter is an area in which the attorney general’s office has taken a lead position on addressing.
The crossing of jurisdictional boundaries when it comes to organized retail crime is something that Torrez said the AG office is inherently set to address.
“The same is true of human trafficking. We have a very serious problem with human trafficking, not only at the border, but especially in and around our major metropolitan areas. We know that there are women and young girls who are trafficked, who are held against their will, and people who, frankly, are not as easily and readily identified. We need to do a lot more in terms of helping to identify those victims and provide more directed law enforcement resources to those issues.”
As for working with the district attorneys across the state, Torrez emphasized his experience serving as the Bernalillo County DA and the “close working relationship” he has with each district.
“The person who holds (the position of AG) is going to have the ability to shape what we hold ourselves out as representing as a community,” Torrez said. “I think my longstanding ties to southern New Mexico and my understanding of the issues in that part of the state should give people a sense of what my priorities will be as attorney general and they should never have any doubt about my commitment to them and to their families.”
More information about Torrez's campaign can be found at www.raultorrez.com.
Gay is the Republican challenger for the attorney general’s office and is a resident of Gallup. According to his website, he served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer and judge advocate. He investigated and prosecuted felony criminal offenses while on active duty while also defending service members.
He also has experience managing a legal assistance office where he worked to protect service members, veterans and families from consumer fraud.
More information about Gay's campaign can be found at www.jeremygay.com. Gay did not respond to multiple interview requests from the Sun-News.
Correction: This version states Hector Balderas has been New Mexico attorney general for eight years and is not eligible for reelection.
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