NM Senate Majority Leader Sanchez ousted in upset

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Gov. Susana Martinez and her political adviser Jay McCleskey have targeted Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez for years.

Michael Sanchez

Heath Haussamen / NMPolitics.net

Michael Sanchez, D-Belen

On Tuesday, Sanchez lost his Senate seat following a campaign in which voters were inundated with paid media featuring the family members of crime victims urging voters to oust him.

Sanchez, D-Belen, was trailing Republican challenger Gregory Baca by 10 points, 55 percent to 45 percent, when KOAT-TV in Albuquerque declared Baca the winner. Sanchez has served in the Senate since 1993.

Sanchez and his campaign manager couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Advance New Mexico Now, a political action committee tied to Martinez, hammered Sanchez during the campaign with radio ads, mailers, and even a TV spot. That TV ad featured Nicole Chavez-Lucero and Veronica Garcia, the mothers of children shot and killed in 2015, who are advocating for tougher penalties for certain crimes.

“Senator Sanchez seems to lack the empathy and understanding… He’s cradling those criminals,” Chavez-Lucero says in the TV ad.

“No empathy, no professionalism, nothing,” Garcia says.

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