Jacob Candelaria

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Jacob Candelaria
Member of the New Mexico Senate
from the 26th district
Assumed office
Personal details
Born1986/1987 (age 32–33)[1]
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materPrinceton University (2009) University of New Mexico School of Law (2016)

Jacob R. Candelaria (born 1986 or 1987)[1] is an American politician and attorney from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who represents the 26th District in the New Mexico Senate. First elected in 2012, he is a member of the Democratic Party.[2]

No Republican filed for the seat in the solidly Democratic district, and Candelaria ran unopposed in the November general election.[3]

The 26th district (map) is located entirely within Bernalillo County and contains the westside of the city of Albuquerque.

Early life and career[edit]

Candelaria was born and raised in Albuquerque, brought up by a single mother. He attended St. Pius X High School on Albuquerque's westside before graduating from Princeton University in 2009[4] with a degree in public and international affairs with a focus on economics and finance.[5]

On graduating from Princeton, he returned to Albuquerque, working for Think New Mexico, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee and Ben Lujan, the Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.[6] In August 2011, he was appointed President and CEO of Equality New Mexico, the state's largest gay rights organization.[7] Candelaria is a graduate, cum laude, of the University of New Mexico School of Law. During law school, Candelaria was a member of the law school's Natural Resources Law Journal and the national Native American Law Moot Court team. Upon graduation, Candelaria received the Dean's Award and was consistently named to the Dean's List for academic achievement.

Political career[edit]

On March 5, 2012, Candelaria announced his candidacy for the New Mexico Senate, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 26th district.[8] He was initially one of four Democrats to have filed for the seat, including incumbent Sen. Bernadette Sanchez. However, Sanchez abandoned her re-election bid on March 23, citing a desire to concentrate on her health.[9] Three days later, Steve D. Gallegos, a former Albuquerque city councilor and Bernalillo County commissioner, dropped his bid for the seat and endorsed Candelaria.[10]

The Democratic primary election held on June 5, 2012 was therefore a two-way fight between Candelaria and opponent Carlos Jose Villanueva. Candelaria took 69% of the vote, winning 1,835 votes to Villanueva's 828.[11]

Candelaria serves as the Senate Majority Caucus Chair—making him one of the youngest legislative leaders in the United States


MSNBC's "50 States Rising Star" for New Mexico, 2014

Albuquerque Business First, 40 under 40, 2015

Albuquerque Pride, OUTstanding Public Official, 2016

Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Start to Finish Legislative Leadership Award, 2016

UNM School of Law, Dean's Award, 2016

UNM School of Law, Cum Laude 2016

UNM School of Law, Dean's List, 2013-2016


Candelaria is openly gay. He is the first gay man to serve in the New Mexico Legislature and only the second LGBT person, after former state senator Liz Stefanics.[3]

Candelaria's campaign won the support of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.[12]


  1. ^ a b "40 Under Forty: Under 30 honorees - Jacob R. Candelaria". Albuquerque Business Journal. June 12, 2015. Age: 28
  2. ^ "Progressive Dems Suffer Setback". Albuquerque Journal. June 7, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  3. ^ a b ""At the end of the day, it didn't make much of a difference to folks" — first openly gay man heading to the Roundhouse". Capitol Report New Mexico. June 20, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Running the Race". Princeton Alumni Weekly. October 23, 2013.
  5. ^ "Editorial: Recommendations For New Mexico Senate". Albuquerque Journal. May 16, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  6. ^ "About | Candelaria for State Senate". jacobcandelaria.com. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  7. ^ "EQNM Welcomes Jacob Candelaria as New President-CEO" (Press release). Democracy for New Mexico. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  8. ^ "Jacob Candelaria to Launch State Senate Run in Albuquerque". Democrats of Chaves County. March 7, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  9. ^ "Another lawmaker drops out; more could be kicked off ballot". NMPolitics.net. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "Two-way race for Senate District 26". New Mexico Telegram. March 26, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "2012 primary results". Secretary of State of New Mexico. July 9, 2012. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  12. ^ "Gay man to become New Mexico's only out LGBT state legislator". Gaypolitics.com. June 5, 2012. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012.

External links[edit]