November 8, 2016

Michael Sanchez loses in expensive legislative race

Matthew Reichbach

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez speaking to reporters after the legislative session.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez will not be returning to the state Senate for another term.

The Democrat from Belen fell to Republican Greg Baca in a race that saw Republicans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat him, largely on television ads that went after Sanchez for blocking crime legislation.

At the state Republican Party watch party in the Albuquerque Convention Center, Baca said “we just want to work toward a better state here.”

“Let’s start talking about things like safer streets, better education, more jobs, more opportunities for everyone,” Baca said.

Greg Baca during his victory speech after defeating Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.

Andy Lyman

Greg Baca during his victory speech after defeating Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez stood beside Baca congratulating him.

“Sixteen years ago I did the same thing,” John Sanchez, a Republican, said. “I took out his brother, Speaker of the House Raymond Sanchez.”

The exact margin of victory isn’t online yet, but Michael Sanchez trails by ten percent with 24 of 25 precincts fully reporting. The only precinct still partially reporting is in Bernalillo County, which makes up only a small part of the district.

Michael Sanchez has been in the state Senate since 1993 and in his time as Majority Leader has stood steadfast against Gov. Susana Martinez—as he did against her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson—in many of her priorities.

Even as Michael Sanchez lost, Democrats look like they will expand their majority in the Senate. Sanchez, in fact, may be the only incumbent Democrat in either chamber to lose reelection.

Democrat John Sapien is clinging to a narrow lead over Republican challenger Diego Espinoza in Senate District 9, a traditional swing district.

It appears some Republicans will lose their Senate seats.

NM Political Report asked if Sanchez will respond to the loss, and if he responds, it will be added to this story.

Baca, for his part, told NM Political Report Tuesday night that he hasn’t yet planned legislation to bring to the Senate next January, when the state legislative general session begins.

Andy Lyman contributed to this report.