NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A powerful state senator has been ousted after serving New Mexico for more than 30 years. Senator John Arthur Smith says he’s not bitter. He says he had to say no a lot and make tough decisions to balance the books which were good for the state and he has no regrets.

“There are far-reaching implications. John Arthur Smith was known as “Mr. No” or “Dr. No,” primarily because he shut down many major reform efforts, for the most part, would have cost money. Most progressive Democrats felt were needed at the time,” said political analyst and professor Gabriel Sanchez.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is from Deming and has represented Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra Counties as a senator since 1989. John Arthur Smith was one of a handful of Democrats who lost to progressive Democrats. Votes are still being counted but he was down by 500 votes with Neomi Martinez-Parra, an educator from Lordsburg winning the primary.

“The number one issue that has always been an issue for progressive has been being able to tap into the permanent fund, particularly for early childhood. I think that was the backdrop which a lot of voters felt. Yazzie versus the state of New Mexico, all that context really culminated and the opportunity to remove John Arthur Smith,” Sanchez said.

Other incumbent Democrats who lost their races to progressive Democrats include Senate Presiden Pro Tem, Mary Kay Papen. Political analyst Gabriel Sanchez says high turnout changed the outcome of these races. He says the legislature will be radically different and the governor will have an easier time pushing her agenda including making recreational marijuana legal and allowing voters to decide if the state should tap into the permanent fund to pay for early childhood education.

It’s not a given Martinez-Parra will win in November. Sanchez says the district is moderate to right-leaning. She will face Republican Crystal Diamond in November. The director of the legislative finance committee says it’s too early to tell who will take Smith’s powerful spot.

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