Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Republicans Gain in Senate, But Democrats Gain in House

Roswell area farmer Cliff Pirtle, aided by Gov. Susana Martinez, was successful in defeating Senate President Tim Jennings yesterday. Republicans gained a total of three seats in the state Senate.

Stephanie Garcia Richard
But Republicans blew a chance to take control of the House. Democrats actually increased their strength in the House by a net gain of two seats. That'll be three if Republican  Rep. Terry McMillan of Las Cruces is defeated. Unofficial results show him 12 votes behind Democrat Joanne Ferrary. There will be an automatic recount in that district.

Apparently Stephanie Garcia Richard's lead held over incumbent Republican Jim Hall of Los Alamos. Unofficial results show her 310 votes ahead of Hall.

Despite their losses in the Senate, Democrats still will hold a healthy 25-17 lead over Republicans in that chamber. And with Jennings gone, chances are the next president pro-tem will be a lot more liberal. Jennings, after all was first elected to the post with the support of all Senate Republicans.

Among the incumbents who were defeated yesterday was Democratic Whip Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana. She was the subject of an ethics investigation this year over possible campaign finance violations. She paid a $1,200 fine to the state.

Also appointed Sen. Lisa Curtis, D-Albuquerque, who spent about a quarter of a million dollars, couldn't buy her seat in her heavily GOP district. She lost to Mark Moores, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley.

In the House, the only registered independent, Rep. Andy Nunez came in third in his race, losing to Democrat Felipe Archuleta. Nunez was attacked by both Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. Susana Martinez's Reform New Mexico Now PAC, even though Nunez had been allied with the governor on her driver's license bill.

Other incumbents to be defeated were Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, who lost to Republican Sharon Clahchischilliage (Bad news for reporters who now have to learn how to spell "Clahchischilliage"); Ricky Little, R-Las Cruces, who lost to former Rep. Nate Cote (who lost to Little in 2010); and Rep. Conrad James, R-Albuquerque, who lost to Democrat Elizabeth Thompson.

Most Santa Fe area legislators were unopposed. Longtime Rep. Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe won 80 percent of the vote against Libertarian Bob Walsh.

There will be some new local lawmakers however. Besides Richard, Democrat Stephen Easley won the seat held for 14 years by Rep. Rhonda King, who didn't seek re-election. And Carl Trujillo of Nambe, who won his primary race and faced no general election opponent, will fill the seat held by retiring House Speaker Ben Lujan.