A heated state senate primary became a heated two-person race Friday.
In a joint press conference at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, Mark Myers dropped out of the state senate District 7 race and endorsed fellow Republican candidate Pat Woods.
Both said the move was made out of concerns Gov. Susana Martinez has lined up resources behind Angie Spears, the other candidate in the GOP race — a move Woods said he's never seen before in a primary race.
State Senate District 7 Republican candidate Pat Woods, right, accepts the endorsement of Mark Myers, who dropped out of GOP race in a joint press conference Friday at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. Woods and Angie Spears are now the only candidates in the June 5 Republican primary. The winner faces no Democratic opposition in the general election.
The June 5 primary is essentially the general election, as no Democrat has filed for the office in the heavily Republican district.
"Pat and I have the same ideals; we appeal to the same people," Myers said. "I'm not interested in our next senator being bought and paid for from the Rio Grande Valley."
Spears and officials from Martinez fired back quickly Friday afternoon, noting Woods' donations to Democrats in prior years, with Spears noting "laughable" hypocrisy that Woods was complaining about a Martinez endorsement at a press conference where he was accepting an endorsement.
Spears, 38, entered the race two days before incumbent Clint Harden, a Clovis Republican, announced his retirement. Martinez' Susana PAC has since donated $5,000 to Spears' campaign — about a fifth of the $26,080 that Spears listed in contributions when she filed her first campaign statement this month. Spears had outraised both Myers, a Clovis trucking company owner, and Woods, a Broadview rancher.
Spears is clinical director for Teambuilders Services in Clovis.
The backing from Martinez so early in the process, Woods said, felt like a warning shot to other candidates to stay out of the race. Jay McCleskey, a political committee strategist for Martinez, called such accusations, "false and illogical."
"In key races, Gov. Martinez is supporting candidates she believes will fight for key reforms in the state and isn't afraid to take on business-as-usual politicians to do it," McCleskey said. "It's odd that Pat Woods would complain about Gov. Martinez supporting a candidate in a race when Mr. Woods has not been shy about getting involved in races himself. Woods has contributed thousands of dollars to liberal Democrats all over the state, including (Republican District 67 state representative) Dennis Roch's opponent, and other Democrats he says supported a bill that helped his business. At the very same time Woods is complaining about endorsements, contributions he has made to liberal Democrats are being used to attack Republican legislative candidates and the governor's agenda in New Mexico.
"Gov. Martinez believes that Angie Spears is the only candidate in the race that can be trusted to fight for a reform agenda that includes repealing the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."
Woods conceded during the press conference that he has donated to Democrats, but noted that contributions in many cases went to longtime friends or were small donations made to Democratic candidates in a Legislature where the party controls both houses. That context, Woods said, never makes it to telephone push polls — phone calls that push negative information about opponents under the guise of polling voters.
"I am a candidate of the people, not the politicians," Woods said.
Spears responded that she will be an independent voice for the district, and that any suggestion to the contrary was offensive.
"I am proud that Gov. Martinez supports my campaign, and if Pat Woods wants to make this election a referendum between my conservative agenda and the agenda of the liberal Democrats he has funded thousands of dollars to, I welcome that debate anytime he's ready."
Campaign contribution disclosures lists from the last four election cycles show Woods made $5,650 in political contributions for state offices — $3,200 to Republicans and $2,450 to Democrats. They include:
- $100 each to Democrats Debbie Rodella and Tim Keller.
- $200 to Republican Dennis Roch in 2011.
- $250 to Democratic Attorney General candidate Patricia Madrid in 2002.
- $500 in donations to Craig Cosner, who unsuccessfully ran against Roch in 2008. The donations were separate $250 donations.
- $500 donations to Martinez and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Turner.
- $750 in donations to Republican Pat Lyons — $250 for his public land commissioner campaign in 2002 and $500 for his 2010 campaign for the Public Regulation Commission.
- $1,250 in donations to Republican Matt Rush — $250 in 2008 and $1,000 in 2010. Rush ran unsuccessfully against Joe Campos in 2008 for a House seat and against Ray Powell for the state land office in 2010.
- $1,500 in donations to Democrat George Dodge — $500 and $1,000, each in 2010.
Woods' national contributions total $4,800 since 2007 — all going to Republicans, including $3,100 to Steve Pearce in multiple races.
County Clerk Coni Jo Lynam said Myers will still appear on the ballot, as the deadline for withdrawal was April 3.