On eve of recount, leaders in two tight races confident they can hang on
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Cliff Pirtle and Clemente Sanchez come from two different parts of the state and are members of two different political parties but they both think their respective 9-vote leads will stand up after the state conducts recounts next week.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Pirtle said of his 1,018-1,009 lead on Chad Hamill in the Republican primary in Senate District 32 in the Roswell area. “I moving along that I’m the guy to be the candidate.”
“I feel pretty confident,” Sanchez told Capitol Report New Mexico of his 9-vote margin over fellow Democrat Maxine Velasquez in Senate District 30 in the Grants area . “I don’t see how a recount would change much … I feel cautiously optimistic.”
On Tuesday (June 26), the State Canvassing Board officially announced that the District 30 and 32 races qualify for automatic recounts and disclosed that the counties affected will hold the recounts on July 5.
Secretary of State Dianna Duran said it should take two days for the recounts to be completed and expects the results to be made final when the canvassing board meets again on July 9.
The winner of the Pirtle-Hamill race will take on one of the most influential members of the Roundhouse — Senate pro tem Tim Jennings (D-Roswell) — in the general election in November. Jennings hasn’t had a general election opponent since 2000 and has been in the legislature for 34 years.
“People are ready for something different,” Pirtle said. “It’s time for a change.”
The Sanchez-Velasquez race has been back and forth, with Velasquez initially leading by 2 votes on Election Night only to see Sanchez take the lead after provisional ballots were counted.
Adding to all of that, Sanchez is the uncle of Velasquez, although the two candidates are not personally close.
“I think Maxine wold have difficulty in Cibola County because of her environmental stances,” Sanchez said. “I think I have a better chance to win this for the Democrats.”
The seat had been held by Sen. David Ulibarri (D-Grants) but he finished third in the primary that featured four candidates.
This is the second straight Senate election that Sanchez has gone through a recount. Four years ago, he led on Election Night but then ended up losing by 5 votes to Ulibarri by the time the recount was completed.
“Last time I was losing,” Sanchez said by phone Monday. “But I don’t see the margin this time changing very much. You still feel a little nervous, though.
“Politics is kind of funny.”
Especially here in New Mexico.
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Capitol Report New Mexico, Chad Hamill, Clemente Sanchez, Cliff Pirtle, David Ulibarri, Dianna Duran, Maxine Velasquez, New Mexico Secretary of State, State Canvassing Board, Vickie Perea