ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) — He's had the title for 34 years, but on Tuesday night powerful state Sen. Tim Jennings found himself deposed by Republican Cliff Pirtle.
Pirtle, 27, wasn't even born when Roswell-area voters first sent Jennings to Santa Fe.
It's a big shift in power for southeast New Mexico, so what does it mean?
KRQE News 13 spoke with both Pirtle and Jennings after the results from
one of the state's nastier campaigns came in. On one side there's disappointment while the other is eager to make changes.
As numbers poured in Tuesday night, the mood turned somber for the Senate president pro-tem and his supporters in Roswell. By 10 p.m., it was clear Jennings had been defeated.
"This is a little discouraging for me because this brings the politics of hate and destruction down to the state level, which we've always tried to avoid in the Senate," said Jennings.
Jennings was one of the Democrats targeted by Gov. Susana Martinez's political-action committee whose message was made clear in statewide political attack ads.
"The people that I have met in this ride have been absolutely fantastic," Jennings said to a roar of applause from supporters.
Now it's Pirtle who is celebrating but also offering a nod to the man he is replacing.
"Its something that we need to stop and just say thank you for 34 years of work and dedication to this area," Pirtle said. "I just hope that as a senator, I can gain the trust and respect of the constituents as he has."
Pirtle grew up on a Roswell farm and spent his life there. Chaves County Republicans say they're ready for the fresh face.
"I think he's going to be very approachable," said Dorothy Hellums, chairman of Republican Party of Chaves County. "Is he going to get everything through? No. It's going to take him awhile, but he's young and he's eager, and he's willing to learn."
When asked about his immediate goals, Pirtle responded, "We need to repeal the driver's-license law, of course. We have to do something about education; we're 48th in the nation.
"And those were two things that were very big that people wanted to talk about when I would knock on their door."
Although the governor's agenda didn't hurt his efforts, Pirtle said he's the right man for the job.
"I'm my own man, and at the end of the day, I'm here to represent the people of this district and do what they want me to do," said Pirtle.
Hellums added that she hopes Jennings can possibly help mentor Pirtle and that some people in town don't want to see Jennings totally leave politics.
Jennings held the most powerful position in the state legislature. State senators will now have to elect a new president pro-tem.
The governor's PAC also targeted the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen, who easily won re-election, and the party's No. 3 leader, Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia of Do a Ana, who was defeated.
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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.