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Embattled senator says he won’t resign

Sen. Richard Martinez

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

LOS ALAMOS – State Sen. Richard Martinez – resisting calls to resign after a drunken driving arrest – said Friday that he plans to remain in office and will seek reelection next year.

Martinez, a Democrat, revealed his plans in a brief Journal interview, as he attended a legislative hearing in Los Alamos.

He has skipped other committee meetings – including at least one he was set to preside over – since his arrest nearly two months ago.

Asked Friday whether he plans to remain in the Legislature, Martinez said, “Of course.”

“I have no intention to resign,” Martinez said, “and I’m running for reelection, too.”

Martinez, who was on crutches, said he had no other comment.

His future has been the subject of much speculation at the Roundhouse since police arrested him the night of June 28.

Martinez, 66, was charged with one count of aggravated DWI and one count of reckless driving after, police said, he rear-ended a Jeep carrying two people at an intersection in Española.

He pleaded with an officer not to arrest him for driving while intoxicated, according to lapel camera video.

The reporting officer, however, said he could smell alcohol. Martinez acknowledged drinking but gave conflicting answers about what he’d had to drink and how much.

He refused to take a breath test.

In court, Martinez entered a not-guilty plea and is free on his own recognizance awaiting trial. Until Friday, he hadn’t made any public comments since his arrest or addressed his future.

The state Republican Party, meanwhile, called on Martinez to resign.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham didn’t go that far, but she said that no one is above the law and that elected officials should be held to a higher standard.

Martinez, a retired magistrate judge, has since 2001 represented a northern New Mexico district that includes Española and Los Alamos.

He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – a powerful post that gives him influence over criminal justice legislation.

Martinez had no opposition in 2016, when he last ran for reelection.

It isn’t clear whether he’ll face an opponent in 2020. Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, said this week that she isn’t likely to run against Martinez, after having previously expressed interest in the race.

All 112 seats in the state Legislature will be on the ballot next year. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.

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