- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico election regulators have disqualified at least eight legislative hopefuls after reviewing applications and signature petitions, leaving several candidates unopposed in primary or general elections.

The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed the disqualifications Thursday. They are unlikely to tip the balance of power in the Legislature because they are in districts dominated by one party or with a popular incumbent.

Republicans control the House by a 37-33 seat advantage. In the Senate, Democrats outnumber Republicans 24 to 18.

Minor party and independent candidates still have until June 30 to file and compete.

On the House side, discrepancies in a home address knocked out Democrat Dell Washington of Belen, who sought to challenge Republican House Speaker Don Tripp of Socorro.

Democratic Rep. Matthew McQueen of Lamy may end up running unopposed in a heavily Democratic district after Republican challenger Jeremy Ryan Tremko and Democrat Andrew Homer initially failed to meet signature requirements.

Tremko’s candidacy is still in limbo, however, after he provided late evidence that he did meet the requirements.

Signatures also fell short for Republican Tamra Gedde, a teacher at Roswell High School. That leaves Republican Gregg Nibert and Democrat Richard James Garcia to compete for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Nora Espinoza, who is running for secretary of state.

Republican Jerald Steve McFall of Angel Fire can’t run for the state House because he already filed to run in a Republican primary for the U.S. congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

On the state Senate side, Democratic Sen. Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo is running unopposed after former Rep. Sandra Jeff was disqualified for failing to follow campaign finance rules.

Incumbent Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque, may also be running alone after the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office disqualified Democratic challenger Russell Stephen First. First said the finding was related to a minor clerical problem that he hopes to clear up.

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