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GOP daughter of key Democrat to run for Stefanics’ Senate seat

SANTA FE — The daughter of Democratic New Mexico Senate leader Mary Kay Papen is running for a seat in the same chamber as a Republican — and her mom isn’t supporting her.

Papen, who has represented Las Cruces since 2001, said Wednesday she was not in favor of her daughter’s plan to run as a member of the opposing party.

“I love her dearly, but I don’t approve of what she’s doing and I don’t support her,” Papen said.

Her daughter, former state racing commissioner Susan Vescovo, said she plans to challenge Democratic state Sen. Liz Stefanics of Cerrillos primarily over abortion rights, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports .

“Senator Stefanics and I have very different opinions,” Vescovo told the newspaper. “I believe in protecting and valuing life.”

Vescovo was state president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Mexico. Her oldest son has schizophrenia and she has advocated for legislation on mental illness.

She said her platform also includes supporting small businesses and Second Amendment rights.

Asked about her mother’s position on her decision to run, Vescovo said Papen told her the seat would be difficult to win.

“Being a Democrat, she said Liz is going to get a lot of money and she’s going to be very hard to beat,” the Alto, New Mexico, Republican said. “You’ve got politics and you’ve got family.”

The district cover parts of Lincoln, Torrance, Valencia, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and San Miguel counties.

Vescovo is also a hypnotherapist and was a previous owner of Las Cruces Toyota, which a son now owns as Vescovo Toyota.

Papen, 87, has come under fire from some more liberal Democrats for opposing proposals to take more money from the state’s largest permanent fund for early childhood programs, to repeal a long-dormant abortion ban and to legalize recreational marijuana use.

She is facing a primary challenge from two Democrats next year.

Papen was elected Senate president pro tem in 2013.

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