Sen. Clint Harden announces plans to retire

Kevin Wilson

State Senator Clint Harden, R-Clovis, has announced he will not seek a fourth term and plans to retire following 10 years in the state Legislature.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about during the interim, basically since last session,” said Harden, who was appointed to the position in 2002 by then-Gov. Gary Johnson. His predecessor, Patrick Lyons, was elected to become state land commissioner. Harden won two more races for the seat. Harden previously served in Johnson’s administration as secretary of the state Department of Labor.

District 7 includes parts of Curry, San Miguel and Taos counties and all of Quay, Harding, Union and Colfax counties. Redistricting will move the portions in Harding and Colfax counties to another district.

Harden said looking back, he was pleased with work he was able to do for regulatory reform; health issues for kids, particularly autism; early childhood education and legislation to remove barriers for ex-convicts who want to turn their lives around and re-enter the work force.

“I want to thank Sen. Clint Harden for his service to New Mexico, both in the state senate as well as in the Johnson administration,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a release. “He was committed to championing important causes, such as increasing access to services for children with autism, and he made a difference for our state.”

His committee assignments include soil and the water conservation, New Mexico finance authority oversight, rural economic development, courts and corrections, health and human services, and welfare reform oversight committees.

“I am looking forward to finishing my term representing my constituents on the interim committees to which I have been assigned,” Harden said in a release. “I am honored and consider it a privilege to have worked for and with the people of this great state.”

Harden said he wouldn’t be supporting the one candidate who announced Friday that she would seeking his seat, Republican Angie Spears of Clovis. Harden said he wouldn’t support Spears because he doesn’t know her.

Spears said she heard the news of Harden’s retirement online Saturday.

“Sen. Harden has been a true public servant,” Spears said. “He really did give his all. I wish him the best for his future endeavors.”

Spears, clinical director for TeamBuilders Counseling Services, mentioned a desire to repeal driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and to oppose any and all tax increases.

Spears said she announced her candidacy under the assumption she would have been a primary challenge to Harden, but wouldn’t say if her decision to run was influenced by his action on any legislation.

“I’m really committed to eastern New Mexico,” Spears said, “and I’m really encouraged to be a senator, stand up to the status quo and fight for real reform.”