More than 60 residents and elected officials paid tribute Friday to retiring state Sen. Clinton D. Harden at the Tucumcari Convention Center.
"I am simply overwhelmed," Harden said. "I did not expect so many to be here tonight."
Harden said when he first came to Tucumcari 10 years ago to campaign, he left Clovis with his father and was going to stop door-to-door to campaign. He said two-and-a-half hours later he arrived in Broadview.
Harden said there were times when he complained about the vast area state Senate District 7 covers. He said he was in Angel Fire and was talking about the number of communities, countless miles of county roads and school district in his district.
"A little old lady held up her hand as I was talking about how far I have to travel," Harden said. "I called on her and she said, 'Senator, didn't you ask for this job?'"
Harden said he has enjoyed the privilege of representing state Senate District 7, which has some of the most diverse constituents. Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, running for the Senate this year, said Harden would often call just to check up on her.
"This guy (Harden) is one of my best friends," Wilson said.
So many people change in Santa Fe, though that is not the case with Harden, said Rep. Dennis Roch.
Roch said Harden is the same person as when he started representing Senate District 7. He said he cut through red tape for small businesses and made the decision which best suited his constituents. "
It was always nice to be greeted in Santa Fe by a warm smile and firm handshake," said Franklin McCasland, manager of the Arch Hurley Conservancy District. "We knew we had a good friend in Santa Fe with Senator Harden." He said Harden and Roch helped to pass legislation which allowed early voting and made numerous other changes.
"They made a change which was beneficial to the district members," McCasland said. "You will be missed in Santa Fe, though you will always be welcome in Tucumcari and in our homes."