Jerome Block Jr. wins in PRC contest

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By The Staff

ALBUQUERQUE — Jerome Block Jr. won a seat on the state Public Regulation Commission in the Democratic-leaning District 3, while Democratic PRC Chairman Jason Marks held on to his seat in a district that represents Albuquerque.

Block took nearly 56 percent of the vote against Green Party candidate Rick Lass, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

The District 3 seat in northern New Mexico drew unexpected interest when Lass filed for the seat at the last minute, then Block ran into trouble for finance reports.

Block — whose father served on the PRC and its predecessor — took the lead early and kept it, despite publicity over being fined by the secretary of state during the race after questions about his campaign finance reporting.

Block reported a $2,500 payment to a band for performing at a rally before the primary. The performance never occurred — although Block insisted for a time it had.

Secretary of State Mary Herrera has assessed him $11,000 in fines on Block for violating election law and a repayment of $10,700 in public money he received to finance his campaign. Block — who denied violating the law or trying to hide wrongdoing — has until Nov. 14 to pay or appeal.

Lass for his part welcomed the publicity, saying it put more attention on the race.

The seat came open when first-term incumbent Ben Ray Lujan decided to run for Congress rather than seek re-election to the $90,000-a-year job on the PRC, which regulates utilities, telecommunications, motor carriers and insurance.