SANTA FE (KRQE) — A Republican State Senate candidate is laying into the top Republican, Gov. Susana Martinez, for backing his Democratic candidate.
Aubrey Dunn, a Lincoln county rancher, is demanding the governor return his $5,250 campaign contribution he made during her 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Dunn, who is the Republican nominee for Senate District 39, is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Phil Griego of San Jose in the November general election.
The race for the Northern New Mexico sea has been ugly. Griego beat out two Democratic challengers, Jack Sullivan and Nicole Castellano, in an all-out, gloves-off primary earlier this month.
A political action committee, Reform New Mexico Now, which is supported by Martinez and her chief strategist Jay McCleskey, sent out mailers in support of Griego days before the primary. Many of the big oil companies that contribute to Reform New Mexico Now also back the governor's political action committee, or Susana PAC.
"I was highly offended," said Dunn. "I'm surprised she's not supporting a fellow Republican."
Dunn said the governor's support of Griego is hypocritical. He said Griego voted against the governor's bills to repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Dunn also points to Griego's two DWI convictions. The first was in 2000, the second in 2001.
"It's surprising that a district attorney from Las Cruces, someone who is supposedly strong on DWI, would support someone like that," said Dunn.
Dunn said the governor pushed him to the boiling point, when he was asked to donate more money to the governor's PAC to help Republican candidates. He's asking for a full refund of all the money he's contributed to her campaign.
"That's why we supported the governor originally, that we were going to get a change in Santa Fe, and it appears to be the same, the same game," said Dunn.
In a statement, McCleskey said Martinez has not endorsed anyone in the general election in this district.
"Governor Martinez believes working across the aisle to improve New Mexico is more important than raw partisan politics," said McCleskey. "While they don't agree on everything, Senator Griego supported many of the Governor's education and tax reforms to help move New Mexico forward."
Meantime, Sen. Griego calls Dunn's comments sour grapes. He admitted his history of DWI, but Griego points to his record of cracking down on drunk drivers.
"It was a life changing experience to me, and I am so happy that I never hurt anybody," said Griego. "Every time I pass the place I got a DWI, I get a chill."
Griego said he had nothing to do with the mailers that Reform New Mexico Now sent out.
"If the governor wants to support me, great," said Griego. "But that doesn't mean I am committed to do whatever she wants done at the legislature."
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.