Jennings-Pirtle state Senate race gets rough

From Capitol Report New Mexico - The election season has quickly turned into the mean season in the state Senate race in Roswell.

Long-time Roundhouse incumbent and Democrat Tim Jennings has launched a website with his re-election campaign called “They Hate Roswell” — referencing comments Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s chief of staff Keith Gardner made in a secretly recorded conversation released last month — that Republican opponent Cliff Pirtle says is an attack on his upstart candidacy against the sitting Senate pro tem.

Jennings says it’s because of fliers being distributed in Senate District 32 criticizing Jennings on a host of issues, including, Jennings says, linking him to disgraced former state Senate leader Manny Aragon, who is sitting in a federal prison in Colorado on corruption charges.

“People should know where these things are coming from,” Jennings told Capitol Report New Mexico in a phone interview Thursday (Oct. 4). “I think it’s all tied to the governor’s office and [Martinez political consultant] Jay McCleskey … I find [the Aragon comparison] extremely offensive.”

In an interview later in the day, Pirtle says he feels the same way about the Jennings website that, while not mentioning Pirtle by name, criticizes “unprecedented attacks by his [Jennings'] Republican opponent.” The site also highlights a TV and radio ad that refers to Jennings’ opponent as ”a puppet.”  “The whole thing doesn’t make sense to me,” Pirtle said. “They’re trying to make it out like I hate Roswell … He calls me a puppet in the ad. I’m my own man and I make my own decisions.” “I haven’t said anything about Pirtle,” Jennings said.

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