Home News Elections Nibert, Burt appeared headed for reelection

Nibert, Burt appeared headed for reelection

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State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, speaks at a meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. (Daily Record File Photo)

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The two Republicans in contested reelection bids for local legislative seats had not officially been declared winners as of Tuesday night, but the numbers did point to a victory for both of the lawmakers.

State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, appeared to be on his way to a third term in House District 59, likely fending off a challenge from Democrat Kimble Lee Kearns.

No winner was declared Tuesday evening before press time, but the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website did show Nibert ahead of Kearns, 10,095 votes to Kearns’ 3,646 with all 32 precincts in the district reporting.

Speaking at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nibert said none of the legislative races would likely be called until Wednesday or Thursday.

“But it’s looking like we finished pretty strong,” he said.

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Kearns, a Capitan Village trustee, had mounted a campaign to unseat Nibert in the district that encompasses parts of Chaves and Lincoln counties. Kearns could not be reached for comment before press time.

Before the pandemic, Kearns ran a campaign focused on renewable energy, increased education and in one video posted on his campaign Facebook page, promising to fight for a higher minimum wage.

Nibert said that should he win another term, he hopes to work on legislation that would limit the emergency powers of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat. Such a bill was introduced by him and several other Republicans during the June special session meant to deal with a budget shortfall, but was never brought up for a vote.

He said such a bill is something he believes can attract bipartisan support from his Democratic colleagues and something he can work with them on in the coming weeks.

“For me that will be priority one,” he said. Nibert, who has also been a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he hopes to weigh in on proposed legislation to deal with the issue of crime in New Mexico.

The race in Senate District 33 had not been called. Republican Bill Burt of Deming faced Democrat Denise Lange-Browne of La Luz in his bid for reelection. Though no winner had been announced in that race as of press time, the Secretary of State’s Office did show Burt outpacing Lang-Browne 14,569 votes to Lang-Browne’s 6,491 in all 49 precincts in the district.

“I think I am in pretty good shape, but it’s a whole different ballgame this year,” Burt said.

Earlier in the day, Burt characterized his reelection bid as having gone very well. He said that throughout the campaign he had not heard much from Lang-Browne.

“No signs, no radio or newspaper advertising,” Burt said. “I don’t think there are that many people who knew that I had a challenger until they saw the ballot,” he said.

Elsewhere in the county, state Reps. Candy Ezzell of District 58 and Phelps Anderson of District 66, both from Roswell, as well as House Minority Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia in House District 54, were unopposed in their reelection contests. All three are Republicans.

The same was true for Republican state Sens. Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales in District 27, Cliff Pirtle of Roswell in District 32 and Gay Kernan of Hobbs in Senate District 42.

Going into the election Republicans had been hoping to make big gains and perhaps win a majority in one or both of the state’s legislative chambers. This year all 70 House and 42 Senate seats were on the ballot.

Democrats currently hold majorities of 26 to 16 in the Senate and 46 to 24 in the House.

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

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

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