ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A strange political battle is playing out in a typically quiet Northeast Heights neighborhood.
The father of Rep. Sandra Jeff’s, D-Crownpoint, children and those kids live there, but for the last few weeks Jeff says they’ve noticed some unusual activity. Jeff says there’s been a car camped out on the street out front.
“They’ve been taking pictures and they’ve been lurking outside the house,” Jeff tells News 13 in a phone interview. “My kids have no role in this political ball game.”
So Tuesday morning, the father snapped some photos of his own of a BMW parked outside and sent them to Jeff.
The man inside was Pat Davis, executive director of left-leaning advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico.
“We just want to check her story,” Davis said. “And that’s all that happened this morning.”
The “story” Davis and his group are looking into is Jeff’s claim she lives in Crownpoint in her district, about a two hour drive away from Albuquerque.
“If you say you live in Crownpoint and you want to represent the people out there, you can’t live in Albuquerque to do that,” Davis said. “That’s what the law says.”
It’s not an unusual dispute. In 2012, the group helped get Republican Johnny Luevano kicked off the ballot after showing Luevano didn’t live in his South Valley home until after the filing deadline.
“We’re taking pictures of [Jeff] in and out of her home a number of times here in Albuquerque,” Davis said.
But why is ProgressNow going after a Democrat this time?
“We look for progressive candidates and progressive champions and Sandra Jeff has rarely been that for us,” Davis said.
Jeff sided with Republicans on the budget and minimum wage during the last session.
As for the group’s latest investigation, Davis says he’s doing nothing improper, illegal or even sneaky.
“We were on a public street in the middle of the morning in a very busy neighborhood everybody can see us,” Davis said. “No politician is immune from somebody checking up on their story to be sure what they say is true.”
“I do live in Crownpoint that’s where my residency is at,” Jeff said. “I would offer them to come up to my home in Crownpoint.”
Jeff says Davis’ tactics are dirty and are scaring her kids.
“I had told my children’s father to file a restraining order,” Jeff said. “It’s ugly and we’re really just concerned about the safety of our children.”
While Jeff is the incumbent representative, she’s only on the general election ballot as a write-in candidate. Jeff was kicked out of the primary after a judge determined she didn’t submit enough valid petition signatures to comply with state law.
Democrat Doreen Johnson won that primary and is the only named candidate on the ballot. There is no Republican running in that district.