Several conservative Democratic state lawmakers lose primary races | KOB 4

Several conservative Democratic state lawmakers lose primary races

Chris Ramirez
Updated: June 03, 2020 06:34 PM
Created: June 03, 2020 05:10 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The results of the New Mexico primary election will lead to a shake up in the state legislature.

Several of New Mexico's most senior and highest-ranking Democratic senators lost to more progressive challengers.  

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, the highest ranking state senator, who has served the Las Cruces area for two decades, lost to Carrie Hamblem.

Papen is a conservative Democrat, who voted with Republicans on an abortion bill that was largely seen by Democrats as punitive to women. 

Hamblem believes Papen's stance on the abortion issue did not sit well with the constituency.

"What I found in my conversations with voters is that her stance on HB51 was the deal breaker, that many people were not one issue voters, but when it came down to women's reproductive health, that was the one issue for people and it made the difference," Hamblem said.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, from the Deming area, lost to a more progressive Democrat as well. Neomi Martinez-Parra won with 55% of the vote.

Sen. Smith is the chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which yields a great deal of control over money in the state.

Smith is known as conservative Democrat-- and a fiscal hawk.  In 2018, he blocked a key vote on legalizing recreational marijuana. 

Pamela Cordova defeated State Sen. Clemente Sanchez, who is from Grants. Sanchez chairs the committee on taxation. Sanchez voted against legislation that tried to repeal an old anti-abortion law, which would have criminalized women who had an abortion.  

Sen. Richard Martinez, who is from Espanola, lost his reelection bid to Leo Jaramillo. Martinez was arrested and convicted of DWI in 2019.  That arrest was caught on police lapel video.

This video, combined with a voting record, which includes anti-gay and anti-abortion votes may have contributed to his defeat.

Dr. Lonna Atkeson, a UNM political science professor, believes Republican will have a better chance in November when they face more liberal candidates.

"That is definitely a risk because these are conservative areas, and that is why conservatives were in power in these areas," she said.

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