Longtime legislator Anna Crook retiring

By Robin Fornoff
CMI Projects Editor
rfornoff@cnjonline.com

Longtime Republican state lawmaker Anna Crook of Clovis announced Saturday she is retiring and won’t seek re-election.

At least two others informed of Crook’s decision — Randy Crowder and Wade Lopez — said they planned to file March 11 as Republican candidates in the June 3 primary election.

Crook has held the District 64 seat in the state House of Representatives the last 20 years, most recently serving on the taxation and revenue and transportation committee.

Crook’s announcement comes two days after the Legislature completed its 30-day budget session.

“It’s just been a wonderful experience,” Crook said. “I just decided that it’s time to let someone else do it.”

Crook said her major accomplishments in the Legislature was “always trying to look out for my district … District 64, Clovis and Curry County,” and pushing through a bill in 2011 that allows farmers to sell irrigation water to EPCOR, then-New Mexico American Water, to meet drinking water needs for Clovis.

“That,” Crook said of the water bill, “it was my hardest fought battle. I lobbied every single person in the Legislature.”

Crook said retired Sen. Clint Harden left his sick bed to help her push the bill through in the final hours of the session.

Harden, now a lobbyist who served 10 years in the state Senate before retiring in 2012, said he always referred to Crook as “the queen of the New Mexico Legislature.”

“I said that in both public and private,” Harden said. “Her shoes will be hard to fill. Her honesty and integrity were above reproach.”

Crook also took a bold step in 2012, standing up to Gov. Susana Martinez after the governor gave a pre-primary endorsement to candidate Angie Spears of Clovis over Pat Woods of Broadview in the election to replace Harden. Crook called Martinez’s interference in a local election “mean spirited,” in a guest newspaper column. The ensuing infighting by political factions split the Republican party across eastern new Mexico.

Woods eventually defeated Spears and easily won the general election.

“It really upset me to have people come in from outside and split my community,” Crook said. “But that’s past us and he (Woods) has been a good senator and a pleasure to work with.”

Woods said he was disappointed to learn Crook was retiring “but I understand where she is coming from.

“She gave me a lot of political insight about passing bills and how the process went down,” Woods said. “She taught me how to try and influence other legislators … you have to go over there to the other side (Democrats) and convince people. That’s what Anna tried to teach me.”

Crook said she will continue to serve on her legislative committees until her term ends Dec. 31.

“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience,” Crook said of her two decades in the Legislature. “It is an experience, and education you cannot buy or pay for.”

Longtime Clovis City Commissioner Randy Crowder and Lopez, a perennial Republican candidate for Crook’s job, both said Saturday they plan to seek the party nomination.

“No one can replace Anna Crook,” Crowder said. “She’s the best of the best.”

Crowder said he will seek the job because, “I think my experience, 10 years on the City Commission and as a member of the Interstate Stream Commission are a good foundation. I’ve a good understanding of the district’s wants and desires.”

Lopez, a manager and sales specialist, called Crook, “an amazing woman. She’s done a lot for the community and the state.” She easily defeated him for the Republican nomination in 2010 and 2012.

Lopez said he is seeking Crook’s job because “It’s always been my passion to give back, to help people. I was helped in college with a lottery scholarship and I want to give back, just make Clovis a better place, maybe help create more jobs.”