Democrats dominate New Mexico midterm election
Author: Associated Press - November 7, 2018 - Updated: November 7, 2018
SANTA FE, N.M. — Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham seized the New Mexico governor’s office away from Republican control as Democratic candidates swept a long list of statewide races and expanded their majority in the state Legislature.
Sentiments against President Donald Trump were running high across much of the state as Lujan Grisham defeated GOP Congressman Steve Pearce by a wide margin in Tuesday’s election.
The election positions Democrats to overhaul public education standards and funding, along with the state’s approach to policies on climate change, gun control and the possible authorization of recreational marijuana.
On the campaign trail, Lujan Grisham vowed to push for new investments in solar and wind energy and has pledged to comply with a court order to help poor and minority students.
“We’re going to show every other state in the nation what happens when you respect your educators,” said Lujan Grisham, who adlibbed her victory speech as a teleprompter malfunctioned.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich won re-election to second term, as Republicans held onto their Senate majority with wins against incumbent Democrats in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri.
U.S. House races provided a historic win by Democrat Debra Haaland, one of the first female Native Americans elected to Congress. She will fill Lujan Grisham’s seat.
Five-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan cruised to victory. Results in the state’s southern congressional district were too close to call in the race between Republican state lawmaker Yvette Herrell and Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres Small.
Democrats won re-election as attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer. Democratic state lawmaker Stephanie Garcia Richard will become the state’s first female land commissioner after defeating Republican Pat Lyons, a former land commissioner.
The reins of state government will pass from one Latina to another as termed-out Gov. Susana Martinez leaves office.
Lujan Grisham traces her New Mexico family lineage back 12 generations to the Spanish-colonial era prior to U.S. acquisition of the region in the Mexican American War. Martinez, by contrast, is a native of El Paso, Texas, who says her paternal grandparents migrated from Mexico.
Lujan Grisham, whose second last name derives from her deceased husband, has ties to a prominent political family. Her second cousin Manuel Lujan Jr. served in Congress and as interior secretary starting in 1998 under President George H.W. Bush. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who won a sixth term Tuesday, is a distant cousin by marriage.
Pearce, a 71-year-old Vietnam-era Air Force pilot and former oilfield entrepreneur from a conservative stronghold in the state’s southeast corner, ran once previously for statewide office, losing an open Senate race in 2008 to Sen. Tom Udall.
Democratic gains extended to the state judiciary. Four Republican incumbents lost their seats on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, clearing the way for women to hold more seats on the judicial panel than ever before.
Longtime Court of Appeals Judge Michael Vigil, another Democrat, won election to the New Mexico Supreme Court, unseating Republican incumbent Justice Gary Clingman.