Politics

New Mexico House Candidate’s Father at Center of Unsolved Murder Case

Jack Volpato’s father was convicted of wife’s murder, but later cleared when reluctant witness came forward

New Mexico Republican House candidate Jack Volpato stood by his father throughout the elder Volpato’s conviction for his mother’s murder, which was later overturned. (Jack Volpato for Congress via Facebook)

New Mexico pharmacist Jack Volpato followed in his father’s footsteps in a number of ways. Both worked as pharmacists before entering small-town politics.

But while the elder Johnny Volpato became most known as a figure in the notorious murder case of his own wife, son Jack hopes to make a name for himself with a successful run for Congress.

Jack Volpato declared his candidacy for the Republican primary in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating the seat to run for governor.

The Volpato name is well known in New Mexico for the unsolved murder of Jack’s mother, Elaine. She was shot four times in a Volpato pharmacy late one night in February of 1980. Police eventually arrested Johnny Volpato for his wife’s killing and he was convicted of first-degree murder.

Volpato, who was mayor pro-tem of Carlsbad at the time, was sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was overturned in 1985, however, after a reluctant witness backed up his story. Now 80 years old, Volpato blames his time in prison on a “sham conviction because of politics,” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

His son, Jack stood by him during the trials, saying the elder Volpato was not a violent man. Now Jack Volpato, with the support of his father, hopes to go from Carlsbad to Congress.

Once named the Pharmacist of the Year by the New Mexico Pharmacy Association, Volpato said his pharmacy experience will help him in the ongoing health care debates.

In a video posted on his campaign website, Volpato also called for the removal of “too many restrictive regulations.” He said he will fight for New Mexico jobs by “promoting oil and gas production and exportation.”

The Carlsbad native also promised to support the main industries within his district, such as agriculture.

This is Volpato’s first run for Congress. He previously served as an Eddy County Commissioner as well as president of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

Volpato co-founded Noah’s Ark Animal Refuge and also awards an annual one-year tuition scholarship in memory of his mother.

He will face off against at least two other candidates for the Republican nomination in 2018. New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn and State Rep. Yvette Herrell are both already in the race to replace Pearce. There are five candidates on the Democratic side.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District Likely Republican.

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