2 longtime Democratic New Mexico senators vacate seats early

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – A longtime New Mexico state senator has announced he is retiring from his position and will step down a month before his four-year term was scheduled to expire after losing his bid this year for reelection. Democratic state Sen. John Arthur Smith, who had served eight terms and was chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee, announced Tuesday he wanted to spend more time with his family and leave the legislative life behind.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said Smith’s colleague Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez also submitted his resignation early this week. Smith and Martinez were two of the five incumbent Senate Democrats who were defeated in the June primary election. Both participated in two special sessions and various legislative interim committee meetings after being defeated.

It’s unclear whether anyone will step into the two positions before the start of the next legislative session, scheduled to begin in mid-January. County commissioners in the district usually recommend replacements to the governor but Wirth was unsure if the same process would be used because of the limited remaining time frame.

“I don’t dwell on the past,” Smith said of his 32 years in the Senate. “I’ve never been one to say, ‘I wish I had done that,’ because in most cases, I did.”

Democratic state Sen. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales is expected to service as the Legislative Financial Committee chairman for the rest of the year in place of Smith. Martinez said in his resignation letter that he was leaving the Senate with a “heavy heart” after nearly 20 years of service, but he cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor in his decision to step down early.

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