Contrasts in state House race: “Extreme” says challenger Allen, “bipartisan” says incumbent Rehm
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State rep Bill Rehm, a Republican, says his six years in House District 31 has allowed him to “keep in close contact with my constituents” while his Democratic Party challenger in northeast Albuquerque, Dr. JoAnne Allen, says voters she’s talked to “want new blood in the legislature.”
A recently retired dentist who practiced in Albuquerque for 34 years, Allen told Capitol Report New Mexico by phone that HD-31 has received “very extreme representation from Rep. Rehm” while Rehm points to his endorsement by the Association of Commerce and Industry as an example of his bi-partisanship.
“I worked on legislation on fair credit reporting and the only sponsors of that were [Democrat] Bill O’Neill and me,” Rehm said. “For her to say I’m extreme, I don’t think that’s fair.”
HD-31 was altered in redistricting but according to data from the Secretary of State’s website, the district is made up of 50 percent registered Republicans, 32 percent Democrats and 18 percent Decline to State or Other. Rehm has held the seat since 2006 and in his last general election race, received more than 60 percent of the vote.
Allen said she jumped in the race for three reasons — to promote small businesses, education issues and because “I was really upset women were getting attacks they were getting on women’s health issues.”
Allen says she’s estimated she’s knocked on 3,000 doors and has talked to women in the district who she says are angry. “Being a woman is now a pre-existing condition,” she said and Allen wants to see companies and insurers offering a wider range of health and reproductive services.
“I think when a company that is licensed as a business, it becomes a public accommodation … when the state licenses you … you give up your rights to put your personal beliefs on your employees,” Allen said.
For Rehm, one of the major issues in the legislature is repealing the law that grants driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, something Rehm — retired from serving in the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office — says “absolutely” resonates with constituents.
“If you look at the original reasons why [the law] was passed, it was to improve safety on the roadways,” Rehm said. “And if you look at the studies, it never improved highway safety, meaning more insured drivers. What it has become is a way to get a New Mexico driver’s license and go ahead and use it in other criminal activity and move to other states.”
Allen said, “I think it’s a bad law and needs to be fixed” but when asked if she would vote for the repeal along the lines that Gov. Susana Martinez has called for or whether she would support a compromise plan that state Sen. Tim Jennings brought forth in the last legislative session, Allen said, “I would need to do further investigation and check with law enforcement officials to see what they say.”
Both candidates have received healthy amounts of campaign contributions — Allen with $42,160 and Rehm with $30,075.
Running for office for the first time, Allen said, “I’ve been at it since March” and doesn’t put her party affiliation on his campaign fliers. “Let’s take the catch phrases and buzzwords out of the equation,” she said.
“I’ve stayed very active in my community,” Rehm said. “I have a lot of personal contact with my constituents and I think that’s the biggest key.”