The uncle defeats the niece: Clemente Sanchez wins state Dem primary
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In a race that seemed to combine a lot of the off-beat characteristics of New Mexico politics, Clemente Sanchez held off Maxine Velasquez on Friday (July 6) to take the state Senate Democratic Party primary in a recount in the Grants area.
“It’s a big sense of relief,” Sanchez told Capitol Report New Mexico from his cellphone as he was leaving the Cibola County Clerk’s office — the site of one of the four counties where a recount was required because Sanchez led Velasquez by just 9 votes.
The primary in Senate District 30 was a crazy, back and forth affair on a number of levels.
First because at the end of the night of the June 5 primary, Velasquez actually led Sanchez by 3 votes.
Then, a count of provisional ballots put Sanchez in front by 9.
A recount was mandated due to the slim margin, with Valencia, Socorro and McKinley counties joining Cibola in going over the ballots one more time. Sanchez told us that in the final count, he ended up widening the final margin over Velasquez to 11 votes.
“I’m going to settle in and move on, move forward and get to work,” Sanchez said.
Another odd twist: Sanchez is the uncle of Velasquez and the two had a heated campaign that featured a total of four candidates, including incumbent Sen. David Ulibarri of Grants, who was ousted after six years in the Senate.
“Family is family,” Sanchez said Friday. “[Velasquez] will always be my niece and she’ll always be family. I think Maxine feels the same way.”
And in a third, weird element to the race, the election marked the second straight time that Sanchez had to agonize through a recount.
Four years ago, he initially led Ulibarri in the primary only to lose after the recount.
“You always wonder,” Sanchez said. “Anything can happen in politics. I told one of the precinct board members today that I don’t want to be this close again.”
Of the four candidates in the race, Sanchez spent the least during the campaign ($12,600 to $42,30 by Velasquez, $30,200 by Ulibarri and $29,400 for Randolph Collins). “The only endorsement that mattters to me is the voters’,” Sanchez said, who added he has “about $3,000 or $4,000″ remaining after the primary.
He’ll take on Republican Vickie Perea in the November election.
Senate District 30 has more registered Democrats than Republicans, which figures to give Sanchez an edge — although Perea has raised $27,827 according to the Secretary of State’s website.
“I’m not a liberal Democrat,” Sanchez said. “I’m a moderate, and a moderate to conservative Democrat on the fiscal side.”
The county clerks in McKinley, Cibola, Socorro and Valencia counties will now send off the paperwork to the Secretary of State’s Office and on July 9, Secretary of State Dianna Duran will meet with the State Canvassing Board to certify the results.