Martinez loomed large in local election

Posted at: 11/07/2012 3:40 PM
Updated at: 11/07/2012 6:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News

Photo: Susana Martinez
Photo: Susana Martinez

One of the biggest local players in this year's election wasn't even on the ballot.

Gov. Susana Martinez is left with a mixed bag of results after jumping into a fistful of legislative campaigns.

A political action committee run by the governor's top political advisor - Reform New Mexico Now - spent at least $1.8 million on the election, mostly trying to beat Democratic lawmakers who opposed the governor on some of her main issues.

A lot of the money went into TV ads attacking Senate President Tim Jennings and Senate majority leader Michael Sanchez. Jennings lost. Sanchez survived.

The Republican governor's team launched negative mailings in more than 20 races. One of those featured Rep. Andy Nunez, the legislature's only independent member. He sponsored the bill to stop drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, something Martinez has fought hard for, but it wasn't enough to keep her out of his race.

"That's a challenge," Gov. Martinez told Capitol Report New Mexico's Rob Nikolewski.  "We want someone that's not only going to support us on the drivers license issue, but also on education reform, on tax reform. He voted against us on tax reform. You can't just be a single issue candidate."

Nunez lost his seat in rural Dona Ana County. Nunez finished third, behind Democrat Phillip Archuleta and Republican Mike Tellez.

A Democratic political action group called Patriot Majority spent at least $1.3 million, mostly on legislative races.

At the end of the battle, with the smoke clearing and the blood washing off the decks, it looks like Republicans have gained three seats in the state Senate. But they appear to have lost three seats in the state House of Representatives. In both chambers Democrats remain in the majority.