E astern New Mexico residents are a hearty breed of independent, headstrong people loyal to each other. That trait shows through regardless of politics — most of the time.
However, we saw that link tested before Tuesday's primary election. It nearly broke for Republican friends and neighbors.
The last two months were especially nasty for the GOP members of Senate District 7 (Curry, Union and Quay counties). The race ended with voters rejecting Republican Gov. Susana Martinez' ham-fisted attempt to tell her east-side followers to select her choice to fill the seat being vacated by Clint Harden. And he only decided to hang it up after being told he wasn't her kind of Republican and she would put up a challenger if he ran again.
By a 5-percent margin, voters chose Broadview farmer Pat Woods over the governor's choice, Clovis counselor Angie Spears.
Most of us of all political persuasions are skeptical that Santa Fe ever has our best interests at heart. Many believe we share far more common ground with our Texas Panhandle neighbors than New Mexicans living in or around Santa Fe, the ego-centric and liberal capital city that brands itself "The City Different."
The Martinez-Spears campaign featured facts twisted into political half-truths about Woods' character. The governor and her hired gun, political lipster Jay McCleskey of Albuquerque, didn't like that Woods dared to give some friends who were Democrats small campaign contributions. All the while the governor's group conveniently never mentioned she blessed some Democrats she liked with a little cash.
Did we mention east-siders bristle when they smell hypocrisy?
We believe the governor's interference cost Spears votes, perhaps even the election. After all, she and Woods both campaigned hard and in person across the district, their stated positions are similar and support the governor's key issues, including improving education and not allowing illegals to get driver's licenses.
The main difference, then, was the governor's interference.
If Gov. Martinez didn't know us before, she surely got the message Tuesday night to let us decide who will represent us. We understand she wants the right support, but telling us who that should be is disrespectful.
Why Martinez put so much effort into knocking down Woods remains a mystery. Woods said he's only met Martinez once, two years ago. He gave her a $500 campaign contribution at political gathering in Tucumcari, talked to her briefly and agreed with what she had to say.
Most folks around here also agree with a lot of what Martinez has to say. In 2010, Curry, De Baca, Quay and Roosevelt counties supported her gubernatorial campaign nearly 3-to-1 over Democrat Diane Denish.
Tuesday's lesson for the governor should include that most of us still support many of her initiatives, especially when she talks about government transparency and loosening Big Brother's grip on private business.
One more thing Martinez should get to know about the east side of the state: We forgive easily.
We don't forget, but if you respect us going forward, we do forgive.