- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Five incumbent lawmakers survived primary election challenges, but two veteran lawmakers appeared headed for defeat in contests that remained tight a day after voters went to the polls.

Republican Rep. Tom Anderson of Albuquerque and Democrat Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces trailed Wednesday in unofficial returns.

Election officials still must do an official canvass of votes, including checking for mistakes or ballots that might not be included in Tuesday’s election night tallies.

Small business owner David Adkins led Anderson by 21 votes. The winner faces a Democrat in the general election in the GOP-leaning district in the Albuquerque area. Anderson has been a member of the House since 2003.

Garcia was behind Bealquin “Bill” Gomez of La Mesa by 11 votes in a three-way contest, in which the primary is expected to determine who holds the southern New Mexico legislative seat. There’s no Republican in the race, although minor party and independent candidates can file for office later this month.

Garcia, a retired educator, has served in the House since 1997. Gomez is a rural development specialist with New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Incumbents winning in the primary were Republican Zach Cook of Ruidoso; and Democrats Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup, James Roger Madalena of Jemez Pueblo, Tomas Salazar of Las Vegas and the state’s longest serving legislator, Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh. Only Nick Salazar, who’s been in the House since 1973, already has a general election opponent.

Lundstrom won in a four-way primary in which one of her challengers loaned his campaign more than $100,000.

In other House contests:

-The son of Rep. Henry Kiki Saavedra, an Albuquerque Democrat who is retiring, lost in a three-way race to succeed his father.

-Former Rep. Andrew Barreras, a Tome Democrat, failed in a political comeback bid. Los Lunas physician Teresa Smith de Cherif defeated him and will oppose freshman Republican Kelly Fajardo of Belen. Barreras lost to Fajardo two years ago.

Garcia sponsored legislation backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez early in her administration to require school districts to hold back third-graders who can’t read proficiently. Garcia later revamped the measure to address objections of many Democrats and educational unions. However, that prompted Martinez to oppose the latest version of the legislation because she said it would allow schools to continue promoting struggling third-graders to the next class.

All 70 House seats are up for election this year, but there were only 18 contested primary election races. Twenty-five incumbents are unopposed, and 27 lawmakers only faced general-election contests.

Republicans are eyeing the November election in hopes they can pick up enough seats to take control of the House for the first time in 60 years.

Democrats hold a 37-33 advantage in the House. Democrats have a 25-17 majority in the Senate, and senators don’t run for election until 2016.

Republicans hope their House candidates will receive a boost this fall by having the governor on the ballot to increase turnout of GOP-leaning voters in several potentially tight races.

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Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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