Bengie Regensberg, a District 68 state representative candidate, says there’s no doubt where he lives — Cleveland, just north of Mora.
But he said there’s a big question about where his rival, Thomas Garcia, resides.
The men are running against each other in the June 3 Democratic primary.
When former state Rep. Hector Balderas became state auditor in 2007, Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Garcia as the replacement. Garcia, who has had a house at 824 Seventh St., promised shortly after that he would get a home in Ocat, which is part of District 68 and where he grew up.
Garcia said Thursday that he has a house in Ocat and that he goes there whenever he can. But he said there are no jobs there. As such, Garcia, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, is now an instructor at Luna Community College.
“When I’m teaching courses, it’s difficult to be home every day, but I do the best I can,” he said. “Obviously, I can’t be there at all during legislative sessions.”
Regensberg took photos of a rundown house in Ocat that he thought was the one Garcia claimed to own. But Garcia denied owning the house in the picture, saying his home is in the core of the community.
Garcia questioned why Regensberg didn’t challenge his candidacy in the 10 days allowed after a candidate files.
“Now it’s an issue. He’s not a rookie at this,” Garcia said.
Regensberg said he believes Garcia is deceiving District 68 constituents.
“That’s like me running for mayor of Las Vegas, getting a post office box there and saying I’m qualified because I live in a post office box,” he said.
Regensberg said he doesn’t contest Garcia’s right to run for state representative but that he should do so in District 70, which includes all of Las Vegas.
“What is happening is that Las Vegas has two representatives, and District 68 doesn’t have a single one,” said Regensberg, a building contractor who used to represent the district.
Regensberg said it’s not up to him to challenge Garcia’s candidacy because the duty resides with the secretary of state and the district attorney’s office. He said Garcia, who received $1,000 from Richardson, is politically connected, so he doesn’t have to worry about the authorities questioning his residency.
“He (Garcia) is the governor’s boy. People won’t go against the governor over a minor issue like this,” Regensberg said.
Garcia called the issue a distraction.
“There are more important issues to discuss,” he said. “It’s not a story.”