Twenty-six-year-old Roswell farmer Cliff Pirtle is the projected GOP nominee for state Senate District 32, for which there was a recount Thursday. The district, which Senate President Pro-Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, has represented since 1979, includes parts of Chaves and Eddy counties and one precinct in Otero County.
State statutes call for automatic recounts in legislative races when the difference between the top two candidates is less than one half of one percent.
The state Canvassing Board, comprised of Gov. Susana Martinez, Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, ordered recounts June 26 in two state Senate primary races. The leading candidates in both races held nine-vote margins. The Canvassing Board will meet on July 9 to certify the winners.
Pirtle and Roswell Fire Chief Chad Hamill entered Thursday with totals of 1,018 and 1,009 votes respectively. While his tallies in Chaves and Eddy counties remained the same, Pirtle picked up one vote in Otero County. He will now face Jennings in the general election in November.
“I had been assured that it was more than likely going to turn out the same or pretty close to the same. It was just good to have the relief that it did turn out like that,” Pirtle said.
Pirtle has positioned himself as “a conservative young businessman with fresh new ideas,”that can bring about much needed change to the district. “I’m going to try to run on the idea that I am who I am and if I say I’m going to do something I’m going to do it,” he said. “I’m not going to change who I am or what I stand for just because I’m talking to a different crowd that might not agree with me.”
There is a stark contrast between the political views of Pirtle and Jennings, particularly when it comes to Gov. Martinez’s initiative to repeal a 2003 law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.
“(I really want to) make sure that everyone understands he is the reason why Susana couldn’t get it repealed,” Pirtle said.
The second recount on Thursday was conducted in the Democratic state Senate race between Maxine Velasquez and her uncle, Clemente Sanchez for District 30, which includes parts of Cibola, McKinley, Socorro and Valencia counties.