Lame-duck Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez, who injured two of his constituents while driving drunk, has endorsed a Republican to be his successor.
Party regulars might be disappointed by Martinez’s decision, but they should keep it in perspective.
Each time Martinez opens his mouth, he costs the Republican candidate votes in the November election.
His endorsement comes as the GOP is trumpeting law-and-order candidates for the Legislature. Rock-ribbed Republicans won’t listen to a lawbreaker like Martinez or feel a kinship with any candidate he is fawning over.
Martinez, of Ojo Caliente, won’t persuade Democrats to follow his endorsement, either.
They have watched video of the senator slurring his way through a police interview and then being arrested.
Martinez said he’d been drinking either beer or wine before he plowed his Mercedes SUV into the back of a Jeep that was stopped at a red light in Española. He was too intoxicated to remember his choice of adult beverages.
Martinez’s victims, Johnny and Gerrie Sisneros, received neck, back, shoulder and hip injuries in the wreck. The quality of their lives has been diminished because of Martinez.
It could have been much worse for the perpetrator and the innocent.
Martinez hit the Sisneroses with so much force his SUV shoved their Jeep through an intersection. Had oncoming traffic arrived at that moment, the casualty list would have swelled.
Still, Martinez feigned disbelief at his arrest.
“Are you serious?” he asked a police officer.
Martinez refused to take a breath-alcohol test, pleaded not guilty and went to trial.
He built his defense around two themes. Martinez’s lawyer said the crash was an accident, not a case of drunken driving, but an unfair police officer assumed Martinez was intoxicated.
It was the sort of claim that would have been scoffed at by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Martinez chaired at the time he hit Johnny and Gerrie Sisneros.
The trial judge wasn’t swayed by Martinez’s defense. The judge convicted Martinez of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving, both petty misdemeanors.
Martinez got off light. He served five days in jail. The maximum possible sentence was 180 days, a penalty that would have been fitting for his crimes.
Unabashed by his convictions, Martinez ran for reelection to a sixth four-year term in the Senate. His lack of contrition made him vulnerable, though he didn’t seem to notice.
Leo Jaramillo trounced Martinez in the June Democratic primary.
Now Martinez is supporting Jaramillo’s opponent in the general election, Republican Diamantina Prado Storment.
Martinez, 67, came across as a functional illiterate in his written endorsement on Facebook.
“Ran into this beautiful, intelligent lady now that we were camping in Chama, who happens to be running for my position in the General election and after a couple of hours I realized she has alot of the same goals, views and cariño, as I do! Please help elect Damintino Prado-Storment (sic) as our next State Senator of District 5. She is a retired educator and business woman who cares about people and happens to be Pro-Life!”
How concerned was Martinez about people and life the night he smashed into Johnny and Gerrie Sisneros?
The real reason Martinez mentioned a pro-life position was to create an alibi for his loss to Jaramillo.
In 2019, Martinez voted to keep a 1969 anti-abortion law on the books. He was criticized by some Democrats, but that vote didn’t cost Martinez his Senate seat.
Democratic voters turned against him because he got drunk, took the wheel and then tried to talk his way out of a crime that plagues New Mexico.
Martinez revealed the depth of his bitterness in a second endorsement of a Republican.
“For the record, I am also supporting Justin Salazar-Torrez for State Representatives in District 40 and I don’t care what anyone has to say about it, he is my friend and my constituent!” Martinez wrote.
“Republicans have always been my friends and constituents and have supported me for 38 years and I am proud of the two individuals who I have decided to support and endorse and if anyone doesn’t like it, it is their problem, not mine.”
Who could have a problem with a senator who expresses himself with such grace?
Salazar-Torrez is running against Democrat Roger Montoya for an open House seat.
Martinez’s decision to back Republicans has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal.
He had a sense of entitlement to a seat in the Senate, calling it “my position.” He’s angry because Democratic voters found him unfit for the office.
After his convictions, Martinez announced he’s an alcoholic. He finally apologized to his victims during his sentencing hearing, but his words rang hollow.
“I feel it was another ploy,” Johnny Sisneros said.
There’s nothing cunning about Martinez’s endorsements. They don’t show he cares about the state or the Legislature. They mark him for what he is — a sore loser.