Top State Senate Leader Defeated

Nov 7, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A top Democrat Senate leader lost his re-election bid Tuesday after being targeted by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in one of the most costly legislative races in this year's general election.

Roswell farmer Cliff Pirtle defeated Senate President Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat, according to unofficial returns.

Jennings is the second longest-serving senator and no other Democrat in the Legislature represented such a solidly GOP-leaning district. That appeared to finally catch up with Jennings, a rancher who has served in the Senate since 1979. He faced a barrage of hard-hitting mailings and advertising from a political action committee run by the governor's political adviser. Jennings was repeatedly criticized for opposing the governor's proposal to stop issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Jennings has served as Senate president since 2008.