Cliff Pirtle, left, goes over election numbers with Candy Spence Ezzell, right, and Robert Corn at the GOP headquarters, Tuesday evening. Mark Wilson Photo
The voice of Chaves County was heard loud and clear Tuesday night after about 60 percent of its registered voters had weighed in for the 2012 general election. In total, 20,593 of 34,895 registered voters in the county had voted early or voted on Election Day.
Election results are as of Tuesday at 11 p.m. and are unofficial.
Including the race for president, Chaves County had nine contested races on the ballot. The race between longtime Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, and Republican Cliff Pirtle was decided in State Senate District 32, with the 27-year-old Pirtle emerging as the victor with 5,102 votes to 4,461 votes for Jennings.
“Right now, I’m really excited and proud that people have faith in me to represent them,” Pirtle said. “Very early on we made this race about the issues, the people made it about the issues, and it just boiled down to the candidate that was going to represent them the best.
“I just want to say thank you to Sen. Jennings for 34 years of service, and I hope that I can represent the district and be as well-respected as he has been.”
Pirtle added that his message to Chaves County is that he’s “going to be a senator for the people.” “If [people] have an issue or an opinion on an issue that’s going to be voted on, don’t hesitate to contact me; that’s why I’m doing this — to represent the district in Santa Fe. That was the goal in the beginning, and that’s what I want to carry on.
“It was a great race. … I can’t really put into words how excited I am to represent the people in Santa Fe.”
The race between Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-Albuquerque, and Heather Wilson, R-Albuquerque, was decided in favor of Heinrich by a margin of 48,164 to 17,070, but with just 6,610 votes from Chaves County compared to 12,949 votes for Wilson. Heinrich will assume the opening U.S. Senate seat occupied by longtime U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.
Incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs defeated Evelyn Madrid Erhard, D-Las Cruces, in the contest for U.S. House of Representatives, District 2 by a margin of 121,600 votes to 79,818 votes, with 14,538 votes in Chaves County to Erhard’s 5,658.
“We appreciate the support from everyone, we’re humbled by the opportunity to serve again,” Pearce said. “It’s just one of the exceptional experiences in my life. I’m filled with gratitude by the victory, and I appreciate my opponent. This is a rigorous process, and she got out there and put her name in the hat and gave it her best shot, so I congratulate her.”
Pearce said he is going to “continue to push for jobs in New Mexico,” and that he believes jobs is the “question of the day for the entire nation and especially for New Mexico.” “We’re going to continue to serve the veterans and soldiers, work on jobs, and see if we can get two parties together on some of the things that are necessary to move our country forward.”
Stephanie L. Dubois, D-Tularosa, and incumbent Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, squared off in District 33, with Burt coming out on top 11,952 votes to 6,278. Burt had 2,996 votes in Chaves County to Dubois’s 1,246.
Incumbent Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, defeated Pablo Martinez, D-Dexter, 3,863 votes to 2,366 votes for District 58 in the state house.
Republican Robert Corn defeated Democrat Magil Duran 2,287 votes to 1,402 for Chaves County Commission, District 4.
Each of the five constitutional amendments and three bond issues that were on the ballot passed. The first constitutional amendment, which increases membership of the Judicial Standards Commission from 11 to 13, passed 369,771 to 244,834, with Chaves County voting in favor 11,765 to 6,254. The second, which allows the Legislature to establish more qualifications and educational requirements for members of the Public Regulation Commission, passed 499,370 to 117,054, with the county voting in favor 14,051 to 3,982. The third, which remove duties to charter and regulate corporations from the PRC and places only the duty to charter corporations with the Office of the Secretary of State, narrowly passed 299,260 to 290,956, with the county voting against the amendment 8,908 to 8,368. The fourth, which creates an Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, was also close but ultimately passed 303,804 to 294,718, with the county voting against the amendment 9,121 to 8,459. The fifth, which establishes the Public Defender Department as an independent state agency, passed 370,081 to 227,857, with the county voting in favor 10,159 to 7,398.
Bond Issue A concerning the issuance of general obligation bonds for certain senior citizen facility expenditures passed 386,726 to 232,480, with the county following suit 10,120 to 7,869. Bond Issue B concerning general obligation bonds for academic, public school, tribal and public library expenditures passed 385,091 to 236,050, with the county voting in favor 10,272 to 7,860. Bond Issue C concerning the issuance and sale of higher education and special schools capital improvement and acquisition bonds passed 381,246 to 242,861, with the county voting in favor 11,188 to 7,265.
Republican Paul Kennedy lost to Democrat Barbara J. Vigil in the Supreme Court Justice race 372,823 to 312,747, while Republican J. Miles Hanisee lost to Democrat M. Monica Zamora for Court of Appeals 372,811 to 304,164.
Unopposed candidates who were re-elected Tuesday include Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, for State House District 59; Rep. Bill Gray, R-Artesia, for State House District 54; Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, for State Senate District 27; Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, for State Senate District 42; Vince Bergman, R-Roswell, for Public Education Commission District 8; Steve Harris for Chaves County treasurer; Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, for State House District 66; Republican Janetta Hicks for district attorney, District 5; and Republican Lisa Riley for district judge, District Division 9. Chaves County commissioners reelected were Republican Kim Chesser in District 2, and Republican Kyle Wooton in District 3.
Chaves County Commissioners will canvas the vote Friday at 2 p.m. at the Chaves County Administrative Center.