He once created a plan to protect all incumbent senators
During the special legislative session of September 2011, Jennings even created a redistricting plan to protect all 42 incumbents in the Senate.
It was Jennings' way of saying that he could help save everyone -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- by skillfully manipulating the electoral map.
The fact that all 42 were not stellar senators was unimportant to Jennings, D-Roswell. Survival of the sitting was his mission, even if some senators deserved to be sent packing.
As life turned out, it was Jennings who lost the Senate seat he occupied. In office since 1979, Jennings was defeated this month by a 27-year-old Republican challenger, Cliff Pirtle.
Such reversals of fortune are not common in state politics. But, on occasion, the mighty can fall in a hurry, as Jennings' defeat proved.
A rancher known for being self-deprecating, Jennings nonetheless was overconfident. He thought the Senate seat he held belonged to him, not to the voters of his district.
As for the Jennings' redistricting plan, he created it to appease fellow senators, not to serve the public.
His proposal never advanced. New Mexico was the better for that.
Redistricting is supposed to reflect population shifts, not provide protection for incumbent legislators.
Performance ought to determine if an incumbent stays in office or goes home. No plan should mindlessly protect them, but that was what Jennings sought to do. In that sense, he was out of step with voters.
Jennings went to the Senate when Jimmy Carter was president and the Pittsburgh Pirates last won a World Series. He expected to leave on his own terms.
The idea that Jennings thought he could determine the occupants of 42 Senate seats seems silly now.
No one politician has -- or ought to have -- that kind of power.
This fall, a political group aligned with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez threw everything it had at Jennings. It was ugly but effective, bouncing him from the Senate.
The election of 2012 was a bad one for Martinez and her camp. Her judicial appointees were rejected by voters. Her prediction that the state House of Representatives would be taken by Republicans was as wrong as could be. Her attempt to oust Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez ended in Martinez receiving an embarrassing setback.
But Martinez got Jennings. Or perhaps Jennings got himself.
He had been in office for so long that he may have assumed he was an untouchable.