Jennings reflects on loss

Posted at: 11/07/2012 3:17 PM
Updated at: 11/07/2012 5:24 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News

Photo: Tim Jennings
Photo: Tim Jennings

The biggest New Mexico casualty of the 2012 election was state Senate President Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat defeated in a swarm of TV attack ads.

Jennings, a 34 year veteran of the Senate, got bumped off by a 27 year old rookie - with a powerful assist from Gov. Susana Martinez, who wanted Jennings gone.

"We've had a hell of a run," said Jennings, looking back on a legislative career that started with the 1978 election.

In recent years he has presided over the Senate with the backing of a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats. But Gov. Martinez portrayed Jennings as weak on penalties for child-killers in her team's TV ads that went far beyond the boundaries of his Senate district.

"This is a little discouraging to me because this brings the politics of hate and destruction down to the state level," Jennings said.

From the young Republican farmer who beat the old Democrat - respect.

"I just hope that I can do as good a job as Tim Jennings has done," said Cliff Pirtle, who beat Jennings by about 500 votes. "He really worked hard for this district for 34 years."

The Governor's attack ads also targeted Senate majority leader Michael Sanchez, but the Belen Democrat survived the election.

"We have to move forward from here," said Jennings. "We have to always mean that New Mexico is our number one goal, not our parties - not the Governor's party, not my party. We don't have to have hate and destruction."

Someone will replace Jennings at the head of the Senate when the legislature convenes in January, but right now nobody is making a move. Some senior Republicans and Democrats tell KOB Eyewitness News 4 they would like to keep their coalition going - if they have enough votes.