Thursday, November 10, 2005

LUCKY BREAK?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Nov. 10, 2005

Is the embattled State Treasurer’s Office about to get Lucky?

Longtime Santa Fe lawmaker Luciano “Lucky” Varela is considering a run next year for the office — recently abandoned by Robert Vigil, who is indicted on federal charges of extortion, money laundering and other counts.

Varela, who has been in the state House of Representatives since 1987, worked for 25 years in the state Department of Finance and Administration, where he became state comptroller.

He currently is chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee.

Doug Brown, appointed last week to complete Vigil’s term, has pledged to not run for the office next year.

At a meeting of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party on Tuesday night, County Chairwoman Minnie Gallegos announced Varela as a candidate for treasurer as she was introducing various other Democratic candidates for office.

Gallegos said in an interview Wednesday that she hadn’t actually talked to Varela about the treasurer’s race, but like many local political observers, she’d heard rumors about him running.

“He just sat there and smiled when I called him a candidate,” she said.

Varela couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

A source close to Varela confirmed Tuesday that the legislator was considering the race and probably would announce next week.

Gallegos said she is excited about the possibility of Varela running for treasurer. But, she said, “We’ll sure miss him in the Legislature.”

Varela’s departure from the House would create a political vacuum in District 48, which includes much of the central part of Santa Fe.

Gallegos said she has not heard of any possible candidates for the legislative seat if Varela runs for treasurer.

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