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Embattled Democratic senator to get primary challenger

January 2, 2020 GMT
FILE - This Saturday, June 29, 2019, file booking photo provided by the Espanola, N.M., Police Department shows state Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, after he was arrested on drunken driving charges after crashing into another vehicle Friday, June 28 in Espanola. Martinez, went on trial Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, on charges of drunken driving in connection with a June car crash. Police say Martinez of Ojo Caliente refused a breath test to determine his blood-alcohol level after slamming into the back of another vehicle at a stoplight in the community of Española. (Espanola Police Department via AP,File)
FILE - This Saturday, June 29, 2019, file booking photo provided by the Espanola, N.M., Police Department shows state Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, after he was arrested on drunken driving charges after crashing into another vehicle Friday, June 28 in Espanola. Martinez, went on trial Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, on charges of drunken driving in connection with a June car crash. Police say Martinez of Ojo Caliente refused a breath test to determine his blood-alcohol level after slamming into the back of another vehicle at a stoplight in the community of Española. (Espanola Police Department via AP,File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Richard Martinez, a New Mexico Democratic senator who last month was found guilty of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving and has refused to resign, is getting a primary challenger.

Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo told The Associated Press on Monday he will seek to unseat the embattled Martinez in the Democratic primary.

The former journalist and public school teacher said he is running to “restore credibility” to the northern New Mexico seat. “I decided to run because there couldn’t be a more important time for an ethical voice to prioritize equity and to represent our values of decency,” Jaramillo, 43, said.

Martinez was found guilty of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving in connection with a June car crash. Police said Martinez’s car hit another vehicle that was stopped at a red traffic light, injuring Martinez and two people in the stationary vehicle.

Martinez refused a blood-alcohol test after the crash, authorities said. Police body-camera video, which was a central exhibit at trial, showed Martinez fumbling over a field sobriety test and reacting with disbelief from a hospital bed when notified that he would be placed under arrest and could lose his driving privileges.

Martinez has stepped down from Senate leadership roles but has refused to step down from his seat.

Jaramillo said he supports policies around renewable energy and helping immigrants.