ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An Albuquerque Republican, who is running for a Westside House district, is being accused of using an empty house to get on the November ballot.
According to state law, all candidates must have lived in their district by March 6 to qualify to run. But Progress Now, a liberal political non-profit, said Johnny Luevano broke the rules.
"We're 100 percent certain that Johnny Luevano didn't live in District 16 ever at least until last week," said Pat Davis with Progress Now.
Luevano, a retired marine, is running against incumbent Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas in the westside district flanked by the Rio Grande and West Mesa. But according to city paperwork, Luevano did not get city approval to live in his new house until March 14, more than a week after the deadline.
"(Luevano) didn't get a certificate of occupancy from the city, meaning nobody can legally live there and it's not safe to do so until March 14," said Davis. "The law is not a technicality."
But Luevano said he's followed all the rules.
"It's a baseless attack," said Luevano. "I've reviewed the law before I filed. I bought this property over five years ago. We've built this house. I've moved in this house. I live in this house."
Luevano, who moved back to Albuquerque after serving 20 years in the Marine Corps, admitted he was living in a different district about six miles away in the South Valley while his house was being built. He said construction began on the house about ten months ago. Luevano said the claim he's ineligible is just an attempt to score cheap political points.
But News 13 asked again if Luevano was living in his house by March 6 like the law requires and if he technically qualifies as a District 16 resident. Luevano would not answer yes or no.
"This is what I say. I'm not a politician. I'm not going to play this game," said Luevano. "I'm getting into this race to talk about the issues and put forward solutions."
Progress Now said it's filed complaints with the city and county clerks and the Secretary of State to try to get Luevano disqualified.
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