Republican Party of New Mexico chair Debbie Maestas outlined four Democratic targets in the party’s quest to take control of the state Senate.
Included is the largest thorn in the side of Gov. Susana Martinez, herself a Republican, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen.
The Roswell Daily Record reported on comments Maestas made to the Chaves County Republican Women.
Maestas said Republicans are targeting the seats of Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, Sen. William Soules of Las Cruces and Sen. Michael Sanchez of Belen.
Sapien has already received a challenger, Diego Espinoza. Espinoza was the campaign manager for Allen Weh in Weh’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign. Maestas is Weh’s daughter.
Democrats hold a 24-18 advantage in the chamber, so just three seats would be needed to have a tie; in that case, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, a Republican, would cast tie-breaking votes on any party-line votes.
Maestas outlined why she thinks Republicans taking control of a majority of seats in the state Senate is important.
“With a Republican governor and having taken the House, if we can take the state Senate, then we have a good two-year window of opportunity to pass legislation that would help benefit New Mexico that we’ve never been able to do before,” Maestas said according to the Daily Record. “I shouldn’t say never. We haven’t been able to do it in the last 50 years. So this is really important. So we’ve been doing a lot of candidate recruitment.”
Senate seats are only up for election every four years, as opposed to the every-other-year elections of state House seats. The Senate seats are up for grabs during presidential elections, which tend to lean more Democratic than off-year elections.
Senate Republicans will also have to defend some seats. Republican Senator Ted Barela was appointed to replace Phil Griego after Griego resigned. The Republican will be facing reelection in a Democrat-leaning district.
Other Republicans with close wins in 2012 included Lisa Torraco and Lee Cotter.
Correction: This piece said Diego Espinoza was campaign manager for both Allen Weh’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial campaign. He was campaign manager for just the U.S. Senate campaign.