Thoughts on the 2016 election from New Mexico

Trump supporters got what they’d hoped for on Election Day as “The Donald” is now the President-elect. Republicans nationally also performed well holding on to the US Senate and the House.

And, New Mexico Republicans notched some big victories as well. The two most important races were Majority Leader Michael Sanchez who was defeated and Judith Nakamura who won her race thus maintaining her seat on the Supreme Court. If you’d told me going into the election that these two races went the Republicans’ way, I’d have said it was a good night for Republicans in New Mexico…but it wasn’t.

There are still recounts to be held, but the Republicans lost the House and likely lost a few seats in the Senate. In other words, for at least two years and possibly more, the Democratic Party which has controlled New Mexico for most of its history, leading it to 49th and 50th rankings in so many areas, has been given the reins of control again after a mere two years of Republican control in the New Mexico House.

Here are a few of the races that tell the story of Election Day in the New Mexico Legislature.

Rep. Paul Pacheco (R) v. Damon Ely: There will be a recount, but Republican Pacheco is likely out;
Christina Hall (R) v. Liz Thompson: This was a tough race to succeed Rep. Conrad James in a 50/50 district. Thompson won comfortably;
Rep. David Adkins (R) v. Ronnie Martinez: This Northwest Albuquerque race was not on my radar screen heading into election night. Adkins has been a consistent voice for fiscal restraint in Santa Fe. As of this writing Adkins is up by a mere 2 vote margin. A recount will follow.
A few races went well for Republicans. Rep. Sarah Maestas-Barnes won a tough race and Republican Rebecca Dow will succeed Republican Dianne Hamilton, but the Democrats will soon be discussing leadership positions and laying out legislative priorities in the coming 60-day session.

In the Senate, once you get past Greg Baca’s convincing defeat of Michael Sanchez, thinks turn very bleak for Republicans. None of their pickup races in 50/50 districts panned out. Diego Espinoza was thought by many to have an inside track against incumbent Democrat John Sapien. Espinoza lost by 150 or so votes, but there may be a recount. Republican challengers Ceil Levatino and Eric Burton went down to defeat and Ted Barela who had been appointed by Gov. Martinez to fill seat of disgraced former Sen. Phil Griego lost.

Incumbent Republican Lee Cotter had a tough race and got crushed while the biggest shocker was incumbent Republican Lisa Torraco losing.

In summary, with a few notable exceptions, Republicans took it on the chin in legislative races. Gov. Martinez will have
an even tougher time getting any of her agenda passed in Santa Fe. Right to Work and other economic reforms are highly-unlikely. And, while Michael Sanchez may have been singularly difficult to deal with, Democrats will be anything but chastened by these results. They are not likely to give Martinez an inch.

In other words, in a “anti-status quo” election, New Mexico reverted to “status quo” in a big way. More to come on what this means for New Mexico’s economy and the gubernatorial election which is right around the corner.


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6 Replies to “Thoughts on the 2016 election from New Mexico”

  1. As a result of nearly 85 years of single party Dem rule at the state level, NM is one of the most screwed up states in the nation. The damage is so severe, that it can probably never be corrected. Nonetheless, we all greatly appreciate your efforts to encourage and implement rational free enterprise solutions to our problems. We have the government we deserve in NM.

    1. Exactly — but if you read something like Facebook comments you find a lot of young people complaining about things not getting better and then voting for the people who are not making anything better. Education is a terrible thing to waste.

  2. Having never been a big Susanna supporter, I’d say her wasting of her PAC money and energy on defeating one, uno, 1, single Dumb Senator demonstrated an absolute mastery of STUPID and strategic foolery supported by a complete lack of tactical thought. That money and effort could have been split among MANY other races in hopes of winning several rather than one. She fits right in the the national elitist establishment GOP who almost always demonstrate their near total ineptitude. Mayor Berry’s unflappable support for ART against the masses of Albuquerque bodes well for the leftist liberal progressive bed wetting Democrats for future political escapades. Meanwhile, the NMGOP showed it’s bottom notch total lack of skill, tactics, and strategic thinking by doing exactly NOTHING – no (or minimal/ineffective) voter registration drives, no candidate search/development/support. Is there anyone home at the NMGOPeee?

    1. I totally agree with John regarding the ineptitude of the Republican party in NM and wanted to tell a personal anecdote. Question #4 of the New Mexico juror qualification form asks whether a prospective juror is a U.S. citizen:
      If the potential juror is NOT a U.S. citizen, he is disqualified from jury duty. I was interested in knowing if anyone who was claiming not to be a U.S. citizen for jury duty was, contrary to law, voting. I wanted to get copies of the jury forms for people who claimed not to be U.S. citizens and compare them with voter registration records at the Bernalillo County clerk’s office. I made a request for copies under the “Inspection of Public Records Act.” My request was denied. I sent an email to the state Republican Party headquarters in late 2014 explaining what had happened and suggesting that the inquiry I had made about potential illegal voting merited litigation. I am still waiting for a response to my email from the Republican Party of New Mexico.

  3. I agree with John. Halfway through the second term of a Republican governor, we still do not have a two-party political system in New Mexico. Gov. Martinez has accomplished little because Democrats dominate the legislature and most of them are unopposed for re-election. The minimum requirement for a serious political party is to run and support candidates in every district, and the Republicans fall short.

    Two years ago a Republican challenged the incumbent legislator in my district. He ran a shoestring campaign with no visible party support and lost. This year the Democratic incumbent ran unopposed.

    Imagine how much the landscape might have changed had Gov Martinez led her party to recruit qualified candidates, get them on the ballot and support their campaigns.

  4. The biggest problem in our government is education and a lack thereof, not just the poor education we are giving to our children here, but the lack of education that voters have. People don’t seem to read anything more than a headline, and very few people seem to understand, or have respect for the constitution. The key to improving New Mexico is to find a way to educate more voters, not just those of us who read this e-bulletin and various newspapers, but the majority of the public who does not like to read.

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