NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – In one of New Mexico’s rural corners, the race to replace a titan of the state’s budget process has also become one of the most expensive political races. Democrat Neomi Martinez-Parra is facing Republican challenger Crystal Diamond for control of New Mexico Senate District 35.
The winner of the race will replace long-time Senator John Arthur Smith, a moderate Democrat who held the seat since 1989. According to the New Mexico Secretary of State campaign finance portal, both Diamond and Martinez-Parra have each raised around $100,000 for their campaigns.
In an interview with KRQE News 13 Monday, Diamond said in the party she sees the role of carrying on Smith’s values. Meanwhile, Martinez-Parra said in part she believes the district is calling for a change some of the positions Smith held.
“I’m here to carry that message on,” Diamond said, “I’m up for the fight, I’m confident that I reflect the values of rural New Mexico, this is my home.”
“The voters are speaking up and they want change,” Martinez-Parra said. “We need change, we need to survive out here, so we have to stand up, we have to speak up.”
According to data from the Secretary of State’s office, Martinez-Parra’s campaign has raised more than $95,000. Comparatively, Diamond’s campaign has raised more than $111,000. The amounts place Diamond and Martinez-Parra in the second and third positions for top earners in the state for the 2020 election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
What’s at stake is the rural southwest New Mexico Senate seat representing Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra counties along with parts of Doña Ana County. The chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, John Arthur Smith rubbed against his Democratic party in recent years over issues like how to fund early childhood education, repealing New Mexico’s unenforced abortion ban from the ’60s, and possible marijuana legalization.
On the issue of education, Neomi Martinez-Parra says she disagreed with Smith’s opposed use of the permanent fund. “Tapping into the permanent fund for early education, for elementary, for early childhood education, and taking care of our kids, that’s a big one for me.”
Diamond says she agrees with Smith’s part decisions surrounding the permanent fund. “Tapping into New Mexico’s savings account is certainly an irresponsible thing for us to do fiscally and I will stand in support of keeping that locked down.”
On the topic of recreational marijuana, Diamond says she doesn’t support recreational legislation but supports the sale and use of medical marijuana. Martinez-Parra says she supports legal recreational marijuana but says any potential law needs to protect kids.
Including John Arthur Smith, five key moderate Democrats were defeated in the primary election. Republicans need six seats in the New Mexico Senate to take control.
KRQE’s Chris McKee and Political Analyst Gabe Sanchez will be talking about the race for Senate District 35 more on “Your Local Election Headquarters” Tuesday at 11 a.m.
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