Challengers Defeat Incumbents & Other Election News

by Staff Reporter / Jun 06, 2018 / comments

Challengers Defeat Incumbents  & Other Election News

Going into the June 5 election, Rio Arriba County and the northern Santa Fe County region had one of the most senior and politically powerful legislative delegations in New Mexico. That changed Tuesday night with the election results leaving our region with a full slate of freshmen legislators taking over from a senior group.

Rep. Nick Salazar who has been the longest-serving legislator in New Mexico history is retiring this year and did not run for reelection. Rep Debbie Rodella is the longest-serving woman who was defeated in her reelection bid by challenger Susan Herrera. What this power shift will mean to the balance of power in the legislative chamber is still unknown, but it is likely to (at least in the short term) result in a loss of local influence for the region.

Here’s the complete rundown of local legislative and other contested elections.

Longtime Representative Debbie Rodella, the longest-serving women in the New Mexico House of Representatives was defeated by challenger Susan Herrera. This was a race that attracted outside group's to contribute to both candidates and was watched statewide as a challenge to the more conservative wing of the Democratic party by the progressive wing. 

The final tally of that District 41 race was 3108 (56.27%) to 2414 (43.73%). There is no Republican challenger in the general election.

 graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

Just to the south, in northern Santa Fe county District 46, incumbent Rep. Carl Trujillo was narrowly defeated by challenger Andrea Romero. In what is widely acknowledged to be one of the dirtiest races in the state this year, this contest first centered around allegations of Romero misusing government money to buy alcohol and baseball tickets during a local government coalition trip to Washington DC. The allegations had severely damaged Romero’s perceived electability, but a late April allegation against Trujillo asserting sexual harassment of a lobbyist led to a series of negative back and forth attacks. The final vote of 3068 (52.67%) for Romero and 2757 (47.33%) for Trujillo.

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website
In another local legislative race, longtime legislator Nick Salazar is retiring this year, leaving his District 40 seat open. The three way primary resulted in Alcalde resident Joseph Sanchez winning with 3052 (47.81%) to 1941 (30.41%) votes for former Mora County Commissioner Paula Garcia and 1390 (21.78%) for Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo.
graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

Another Rio Arriba legislator, Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard is vacating her seat in to run for State Land Commissioner. She was successful Tuesday, winning the Democratic party nomination, so now two Democrats were vying to win the nomination for the District 43 seat. County Councilor Christine Chandler of Los Alamos won the Democratic primary with 1944 (54.79%) votes over County Councilor Pete Sheehey's 1604 (45.21%) votes. Chandler will face Republican Lisa Shin in the November general election. Until Garcia Richard first won this seat in 2012, this seat had been a Republican stronghold. But recent party registration changes have tilted the seat towards the Democrat nominee.

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

On the county level, incumbent Rio Arriba County Commissioner Alex Naranjo was defeated by valley resident and first-time candidate Leo Jaramillo in the race for District 2.

Jaramillo, a LANL employee won the nomination with 1631 (56.73%) to 1244 (43.27%) for Naranjo. There is no general election opponent so Jaramillo will be District 2’s next commissioner.

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

In the open seat for Commission District 1, local minister James J. Martinez narrowly won a four-way race. Preliminary results show Martinez with 862 votes (28.22%) to Elias Coriz's 857 votes (28.05). Lenny Ortiz came in third with 704 votes (23.04%) and Michelle R. Martinez rounded up the group with 632 votes (20.69%) This seat also has no general election opposition.

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

In other contested races, Sheriff James Lujan cruised to reelection with 4019 votes (51.31%) over his three rivals.

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website

Marlo Martinez will be returning to the bench as Probate Judge with his victory over incumbent Max Quintana with 4111 (54.55%) to 3425 (45.45%).

graphic courtesy NM Secretary of State website