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State Sen. Martinez will face primary challenge from Leo Jaramillo

SANTA FE — Embattled state Sen. Richard Martinez won’t be unopposed for re-election this year after all.

Leo Jaramillo, a Rio Arriba County commissioner and former teacher, announced Thursday he will run in the 2020 Democratic primary election for the Senate District 5 seat that Martinez has held since 2001.

Leo Jamarillo

The self-described progressive Democrat said he’s been thinking about the race since spring 2019, but only recently made the decision to take the plunge.

He also acknowledged Martinez’s legal woes played a role in his decision, saying in his campaign announcement that he would be an “accountable leader” for the northern-New Mexico based district.

“I believe we are ready collectively to go in a different direction,” Jaramillo told the Journal.

Martinez was convicted of aggravated DWI and reckless driving last month after a two-day bench trial. The charges stemmed from a June 2019 incident in which Martinez crashed into another vehicle that had been stopped at a red light at an EspaƱola intersection.

Martinez, who will be sentenced next week, stepped down as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman after top-ranking senators indicated following his conviction that they would push for such action.

However, he has said he does not plan to resign from the Senate seat and plans to run for re-election to a new, four-year term in the June primary election.

Jaramillo, who works as a chief of staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was elected to the Rio Arriba County Commission last year, ousting incumbent Alex Naranjo in the primary election.

He cited renewable energy, human rights for immigrants and public school improvements as among his top priorities if elected to the Legislature. He also said he would give up his county commission seat if he wins election.

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