Independent former state Rep. Andy Nuñez and Democratic former state Sen. Tim Jennings, both of whom faced opponents who enjoyed heavy support from the Gov. Susana Martinez administration, lost last night.
Nuñez, a former Democrat turned Independent, is known for his stalwart support of a bill that would repeal New Mexico's law allowing foreign nationals to obtain driver's licenses. Nuñez carried the bill through a heated 2011 session, using his procedural expertise to keep it alive. He lost to Democrat Phillip Archuleta in a three-way race that pitted him against Tellez and Republican (and Martinez favorite) Mike Tellez.
In a video posted on the blog New Mexico Watchdog, Martinez made clear that, despite the fact that the driver's license issue has been a cornerstone of her own campaign and governorship, she wouldn't support Nuñez.
Jennings, the former president pro-tem of the state Senate, lost to political newcomer Cliff Pirtle. Jennings (along with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who won his race) endured a barrage of attack ads in the run-up to the election, most of them paid for by Reform New Mexico Now, a super PAC run by Martinez' political adviser, Jay McCleskey.
But the Republicans' hopes of gaining control over the New Mexico House of Representatives appeared to fall short last night. Despite what appeared to be relatively close races in two key northern New Mexico districts—HD 43, which includes parts of Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos Counties, and HD 50, the large district stretching from Edgewood to Eldorado—Democratic newcomer Stephanie Garcia Richard beat out Martinez appointee Jim Hall in HD 43, and former Alamogordo city councilor Stephen Easley won against Republican Charles Larry Miller in HD 50.
In Senate Dist. 39, which also includes parts of Santa Fe County and surrounding areas, longtime state Sen. Phil Griego held onto his seat despite a heated challenge from Republican rancher Aubrey Dunn.
Here's SFR contributor Matthew Reichbach on how it all shakes out:
Republicans could take just one Democratic-held seat and
lost three seats held by Republicans. The seat held by Independent Andy Nunez,
I-Hatch, who had sided with Republicans on some key issues, also went to a
Democrat. The count, for now, is 39 Democrats and 31 Republicans. For
all the talk of multiple automatic recounts, it appears there will potentially
be only one recount. The potential recount is in the House District 37 race,
where Terry McMillian, R-Las Cruces, defeated Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces,
6,207 to 6,195. This is within the one-half-of-one-percent trigger.
Read more about how and when those recounts could happen at Reichbach's news site, New Mexico Telegram.