Martinez faces heat for helping in GOP senate race

April 24, 2012 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez is drawing heat from a few Republicans for throwing her might and her political action committee’s money in a contested GOP primary for a state senate seat in eastern New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports ( that Martinez is supporting Angie Spears over two other Republicans in a race for the state Senate in a rural, heavily Republican district around Clovis.

Spears’ two opponents say they do not appreciate Martinez taking a side in a campaign where no Democrats are running.

Trucking company owner Mark Myers, of Clovis, a candidate, said the governor should be [auth] pouring her energy into races where Democrats could be defeated. “I’m not associated with the circles of power. My only interest is in the people here,” the 44-year-old Myers said of Senate District 7, which includes Curry, Quay and Union counties.

Pat Woods, 62, a farmer and rancher from Broadview, is the third Republican candidate. “I’m disappointed that the governor got into the race,” he said.

Woods and Myers said they did not understand why Martinez elected to take sides in a primary.

Jay McCleskey, of the governor’s political committee, offered this explanation: “Governor Martinez endorsed Angie Spears when she was the only candidate in the race.”

McCleskey added that “in key races, Governor Martinez will support candidates that are committed to pursuing a reform agenda to move New Mexico forward, regardless of party affiliation and regardless of how loudly status-quo political bosses and lobbyists whine about it.”

Republican Clint Harden, the incumbent senator in District 7, announced on Feb. 18 that he would not seek re-election.

Spears had entered the race even before Harden decided to retire from politics. She received Martinez’s endorsement two days after Harden stepped aside.

Martinez’s Susana PAC has since donated $5,000 to Spears’ campaign. That was nearly a fifth of the $26,080 that Spears listed in contributions when she filed her first campaign statement this month.

In all, Spears raised a bit more money than Woods and Myers combined during the period. Much of the money Spears received came from other Republican politicians.

Spears, 38, who is clinical director of a counseling center for children, said she was happy to have the endorsements and financial help of politicians.

Still, Spears said she was taking nothing for granted, knowing that voters make the decision on who goes to the Senate.

“I’m out door-knocking in all three counties,” she said.

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