State Sen. Mimi Stewart continues to complain that she was abused by a misogynistic senator during a legislative debate last month.

One question sticks with me because of Stewart’s insistence that she was a victim.

Was the drawn-out questioning of Stewart by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, worse than the false and hypocritical advertisement Stewart used to attack a woman who’s now her colleague?

It’s not even close.

Stewart, also a Democrat from Albuquerque, was the point person last year for the political action committee that misrepresented a criminal case involving Republican Crystal Diamond.

Democrats feared Diamond would win the election for an open Senate seat in Southern New Mexico. If fighting dirty by using character assassination could defeat Diamond, Stewart and the PAC called New Mexico Senate Democrats were happy to do it.

I single out Stewart because she deserves it.

As the Senate Democratic whip, she was directly responsible for the nasty direct-mail ad attacking Diamond. The mailer identified Stewart as the source of the ad, listing her phone number and address.

Stewart and her PAC wanted to make Diamond look bad, regardless of the truth. They selectively omitted details in their ad in hopes of creating the illusion that Diamond was a drunken driver who skirted other laws.

“Here’s a sobering thought: Crystal Diamond wants to be your senator,” the mailer from Stewart’s PAC began. “Crystal Diamond was arrested and charged with the following: Driving under the influence; driving with suspended license; failure to carry proper insurance.”

Stewart’s PAC omitted that the state never prosecuted Diamond. The drunken-driving charge against Diamond was dismissed in 2006.

Stewart’s ad also tried to make it appear that Diamond did not have a valid driver’s license or proof of auto insurance the night Diamond was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Those citations were part of a separate traffic case against Diamond. They also were dismissed.

Stewart was unwise to attack a candidate who was suspected but never convicted of drunken driving.

That’s because Stewart herself is a convicted drunken driver.

As a member of the state House of Representatives, Stewart in 1999 was arrested in Santa Fe on that charge. She pleaded guilty the same day.

Stewart remained a House member for another 15 years. The Bernalillo County commissioners appointed her to a Senate seat in December 2014. Stewart has since been elected and reelected to the Senate.

Her colleagues were — and are — overwhelmingly men. But gender was no obstacle to Stewart rising in the Senate.



Fellow Democrats elected her as their majority whip in 2018.

The following year, prosecutors charged then-Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Ojo Caliente, with aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving. Stewart claimed Martinez’s legal problems led to an insurgence against her.

“Some of my colleagues want to kick me out of whip position cuz of my DWI,” Stewart wrote to me in a text message.

She told me two male senators were ringleaders in the move to oust her. Ivey-Soto was not one of the men Stewart named.

I began calling Democratic senators to see if I could verify Stewart’s story. She sent me another text message, this one angry. Stewart told me to stop interviewing other senators to check the veracity of her claim.

I kept at it. A few senators spoke to me. They knew nothing about any attempt to take away the whip’s job from Stewart.

Then Stewart changed her story. She claimed the effort to unseat her actually had occurred eight months earlier, when she’d run for reelection as whip.

“It was a very reckless thing for me to tell you because it’s not current,” Stewart said.

Her new story clashed with her earlier claim. Stewart had said Martinez’s arrest caused other senators to question whether she should hold a leadership position. And Martinez was not arrested until seven months after Stewart’s reelection as whip.

Stewart remained as majority whip. She was elected to a loftier position this year — president pro tem of the Senate.

Ivey-Soto and a handful of other senators also ran for the job.

Democrats control the Senate 27-15. Within the Democratic majority, 17 senators are men and 10 are women.

Gender bias played no part in the election. Democrats chose Stewart as their candidate for president pro tem. Then they closed ranks around her to prevent Republican senators from forming a coalition to elect a more conservative Democrat.

Now, back to Stewart’s complaint that Ivey-Soto was abusive to her. He did not attack her personally. He challenged the fairness of an amendment Stewart proposed on a bill.

At one point in the debate, Stewart took her seat. Ivey-Soto notified the lieutenant governor, presiding officer of the Senate, that chamber rules call for debaters to stand.

Did Ivey-Soto go too far? He talked too long, and his harangue was redundant. But Ivey-Soto does the same when he’s debating a male senator.

Already I can hear Stewart saying I don’t understand the abuse she endured because I saw Ivey-Soto’s conduct through a man’s eyes.

I also saw the ad Stewart used to attack another woman. It was uglier than any words spoken by Ivey-Soto.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(13) comments

Stefanie Beninato

I appreciate the background that you gave about Mimi Stewart and Daniel Ivey-Soto and their political rivalries. It has been mentioned before but they were on the same committee where the sponsors of the bill agreed not to include state employees under the Sick Leave Act, but Mimi didn't make any such promise. However, her ignoring of this condition and introducing it on the floor shows that she is hardly a victim. She had to know that this introduction would raise Ivey-Soto's hackles. I also worked for Mimi when she chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and not to discount her personal history, which I was not privy to, but the word "victim" was not one that I would ever have associated with Mimi.

Jerry Appel

In Texas the saying is, "It all depends on whose ox is being gored." As a voting citizen in today's world, it is all to easy to see the pervasive hypocrisy that is legion in our political discourse. The question is, "Why aren't citizens taking the time to do this research?" Plug a few terms into any search engine, read a variety of sources that aren't quoting the same source, and reach your own conclusions. Thanks for speaking truth to power.

Mike Johnson

Thank you Milan, very well stated and spot on truthful about this woman. People need to wake up about what woke is doing to our politics and politicians.....not to mention dumbing down the entire country by distracting us from the important things.

Khal Spencer

In the cult of victimology, being a "victim" interestingly gives someone more power and authority and suppresses opposition. Mimi's obvious efforts are to shut down anyone in political opposiation. In Stewart's case, I find it hilarious for this Senator to claim to be a victim while holding one of the most powerful seats in the Senate.

As far as her attacks on that Republican and now crying foul? What is that old expression? What goes around comes around. And angrily telling you to shut down your investigation, Milan? Sounds like she wants to emulate U.S. Senator Elizabeth "how dare you heckle me" Warren.

At times, I wonder if the Dems and GOP are in a mutual race to the bottom.

Russell Scanlon

Jeez—Has everyone in the State lege been guilty of DUI? Obviously this is a non-partisan problem.

I’m OK with folks partying but how about some personal responsibility? Or at the very least, get a designated driver.

Khal Spencer

"I'm running for office in New Mexico and bartender, I approve the next round"

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] "And if I can get my high school student expert from Sweden, we can lecture you about global warming......[lol]

Russell Scanlon

I haven’t met an oilman yet who can shoot straight about global warming.

Richard Reinders

Or an environmentalist the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Mike Johnson

What you mean Mr. Scanlon is agree with you about all aspects of it. Don't confuse scientific data and interpretation of same with political policy agreement. You deal in politics, people like myself deal in scientific facts and data.

Russell Scanlon

Well that’s a bit presumptuous on many levels but to each his own. I would understand the fear for someone whose livelihood depends on the business of fossil fuel extraction. I understand that any significant change from a fossil fuel economy will be traumatic and unlikely to be complete. I DON’T agree that there is a worldwide conspiracy of environmental scientists who have somehow managed to concoct a plan to subvert the world economy and force us into a socialist state. No one seriously believes that mankind’s activities have had no effect on the climate (not even to mention pollution). The argument is about having the wisdom and the will to deal with it.

Richard Reinders

That is todays politics hang your hat on victimhood, and lie as much as needed to win. We watched Andrea Romero use the same tactics as Stewart to win against Carl Trujillo, the ugly mailers were total fabrications and disgusting , they probably used the same campaign manager Holguin.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Spot on, but of course these kind of women will tell you sisterhood is powerful, whether they lie and steal and are corrupt or not.......

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