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Lt. Gov. Sanchez visits Roswell, talks of upcoming elections

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With just months left in office before the his term ends, New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez said during a visit to Roswell Friday that he does not plan to slow down until the new administration takes office.

“I will continue to do my job until Dec. 31,” he said. “I am in my last four months in the seat of lieutenant governor and I have made a commitment that I will run through the tape.”

A Republican from Albuquerque, Sanchez operated a business and entered government when he was elected a councilman for the city of Los Ranchos, according to the official website of the lieutenant governor’s office. He then served in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

He was elected along with fellow Republican and now-governor Susana Martinez in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Martinez and Sanchez are unable to run for a third term due to term limits.

Republican Rep. Steve Pearce and his running mate Michelle Garcia Holmes and Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her running mate state Sen. Howie Morales will be on the ticket in November.

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The race for governor is one of 36 that will be on ballots across the country this November.

A recent Emerson poll shows Lujan Grisham beating Pearce 44 to 42 percent with another 18 percent undecided.

“Republicans cannot take anything for granted,” he said.

Sanchez said that while he considers Lujan Grisham a friend who is hardworking and well-intended, he hopes that Pearce’s message of creating economic opportunities through fewer taxes and regulations would bode well for New Mexico.

“When it is all said and done, I think when election day comes there is going to be a clear choice of who will be leading New Mexico in the right direction and I think that person is Steve Pearce.”

Regardless of who wins in November, Sanchez said his office will strive to make the transition to the next administration a smooth one.

“Whoever the new incoming lieutenant governor is going to be, we’ll make their job hopefully very easy so that when they take the oath and are sworn in on Jan. 1, they will be aware of what we have been able to do and the things that both constitutionally and in statute as lieutenant governor, what their role as lieutenant governor is and give them some ideas and brief them on efforts we have done in the last eight years.”

Sanchez said the role of lieutenant governor often depends on the person holding it.

“The job is what you make of it, it really is,” he said.

The official website of the lieutenant governor’s office said the lieutenant governor’s official duties are to serve as acting governor when the governor is out of the state, preside over the New Mexico State Senate when the Legislature is in session, serve on eight boards and is the state ombudsmen — or liaison to promote understanding and cooperation between the state and public.

Sanchez said he has always taken those duties seriously but has also used the office to promote New Mexico and support local businesses.

“One of the most rewarding parts of the job was to cut through the bureaucracy of state government when people were simply trying to create opportunity,” he said.

Sanchez said such efforts included helping businesses when the state construction industries were not responding to a Ruidoso business owner’s efforts to get a permit, or the trucking company in Artesia who couldn’t get commercial driver’s licenses from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.

“I think to that extent I will look very fondly about being able to create opportunity for the people of the state,” he said.

Sanchez said some of his biggest successes in office include bedding down an F-16 pilot program for the Holloman Air Force Base that Sanchez said is worth billions of dollars and thousands of high-paying jobs to the state and his outreach to the New Mexico tribes, who in the past have been neglected.

Though he decided to forgo a run for governor this year, Sanchez did not rule out a future run for office and said he wants to continue to serve New Mexico as a private citizen and maybe as an elected official again sometime in the future.

“I will continue to be involved in whatever role that is,” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.