Pirtle wins tight race by 10 votes, will take on Tim Jennings now
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Capitol Report New Mexico has learned that Cliff Pirtle has defeated Chad Hamill in the razor-close state Republican Senate primary in southeastern New Mexico after a recount conducted Thursday (July 5) of the three counties involved showed that Pirtle picked up one additional vote.
The county clerks in Otero, Chaves and Eddy counties are putting together the paperwork on their respective recounts and sending them off to the Secretary of State’s Office and on July 9, Secretary of State Dianna Duran and the State Canvassing Board will certify the results.Capitol Report New Mexico called the three county clerks, who told us that there were no changes in the vote totals in Chaves and Otero counties while the recount in Eddy County showed “a one vote difference for Pirtle,” Eddy County Clerk Darlene Rosprim said.
By our account, that means the 26-year-old Pirtle defeated Hamill, the fire chief of Roswell, by a final count of 1,019-1,009.
“To tell you the truth, I was really kind of nervous,” Pirtle said by telephone Thursday afternoon. “People could have put the voter tabulations in the computer wrong or something … it kind of makes you happy that out of 2,000 votes they were off by just one.”
Pirtle now will take on one of the influential legislators in the Roundhouse — Senate pro tem Tim Jennings (D-Roswell), who has held the seat in District 32 for 33 years and has not had a Republican challenger since 2000.
“I think I’ll get a lot of support,” Pirtle said. “People are tired of the status quo … and what goes on in Santa Fe … I think people want a conservative change. The district here is very conservative. Even the Democrats here are conservative.”
According to the most recent postings on candidate funding on the Secretary of State’s website, Jennings has already raised $62,454. Pirtle said Thursday he has “about $12,000″ after his race with Hamill and hopes to raise between $50,000-$60,000 by the November election.
“My main focus will be trying to get boots on the ground,” said Pirtle, who said he has not talked to the state Republican Party or to officials at Susana PAC, the political action committee backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Gov. Martinez has made repealing state law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants one of her chief policy goals. Sen. Jennings offered up a compromise bill in the most recent legislative session that, while still allowing licenses, would tighten restrictions and increase penalties for fraud. It passed the Senate but went nowhere in the House.
Update: Apparently Democratic state House member Brian Egolf doesn’t think much of Pirtles chances against Jennings. The Santa Fe state rep retweeted our post Thursday night with this comment:
There’s one other Roundhouse race that’s going through a recount: The Senate District 30 race between Clemente Sanchez and Maxine Velasquez in the Democratic Party primary.
Sanchez entered the recount with a 9-vote lead. At the end of the business day Thursday, Capitol Report New Mexico managed to get in touch with just one of the four counties involved in the recount — Soccoro County, whose county clerk reported “there was no change whatsoever” in the ballots.
McKinley County scheduled its recont for 9 a.m. but we haven’t heard back from them. A voice-mail message was left for the county clerk in Valencia County and a report late Thursday afternoon said that Cibola County had gone through just 4 of 28 boxes of ballots.
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Capitol Report New Mexico, Chad Hamill, Clemente Sanchez, Cliff Pirtle, Darlene Rosprim, Dianna Duran, Eddy County Clerk, Maxine Velasquez, New Mexico Secretary of State Office, State Canvassing Board, Susana Martinez, Susana PAC, Tim Jennings