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New Mexico state Senate leader is running for re-election

July 31, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Senate president announced Wednesday that she’ll seek re-election against two Democratic primary challengers.

In a written statement, 87-year-old state Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces highlighted her legislative achievements in shoring up services for mental health patients. She joined the Senate in 2001 to represent a heavily Democratic district that now stretches from Las Cruces across farming communities of the Mesquite Valley to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Papen, who wields influence over committee assignments and procedure, faces a challenge from Carrie Hamblen, a green business advocate, and Tracy Perry, a service provider for people with developmental disabilities.

The primary showdown highlights a divide between the Legislature’s fiscally conservative Democrats such as Papen and more progressive elements within the party.

House-approved initiatives in support of abortion rights, legalizing recreational marijuana and increasing spending on early childhood education stalled this year in the Senate — despite supportive signals from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Papen voted this year against a measure to repeal the state’s dormant ban on most abortion procedures that would go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn its 1972 Roe v. Wade decision.

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