The national Republican group tasked with winning seats in Congress announced their list of targets of seats currently held by Democrats for the 2018 elections.
On that list are two New Mexico congressional seats, including one that a Republican has never held for a full term.
Those seats, the 1st Congressional and 3rd Congressional Districts, would likely be tough races for Republicans, based on recent election results.
The National Republican Congressional Committee announced 36 Democratically-held seats as areas for potential pickups to increase their advantage in the House. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 240-193, with two seats open after lawmakers left those seats to take other positions in government.
“Our battle plan will put us on offense in 36 Democrat-held House districts,” NRCC chair Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, said. “Our strategy will allow us to be competitive in races throughout the country and achieve our overall goal of keeping Republicans in control of the House.”
When the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced the committee’s 2018 targets, New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, the seat held by Republican Steve Pearce, was not on the list.
3rd Congressional District
One of the seats Stivers announced they will target is that of his counterpart, DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan. Lujan represents the 3rd Congressional District, which spans northern New Mexico.
Republicans held the seat just once since it was created in 1983—when Bill Redmond won a special election in 1997 to replace Bill Richardson, who resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. When Redmond tried to retain the seat in the 1998 general election, he lost by just under 10 percentage points to Democrat Tom Udall, who held the seat until he successfully ran for Senate in 2008.
In the last three elections, Republicans have failed to reach even 40 percent in running against Lujan.
1st Congressional District
New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District was once a GOP stronghold, with Republicans holding the seat from Jan 3,1969—when New Mexico was first split into two districts—to 2009, when Heather Wilson left the position to run for Senate.
In 2008, Martin Heinrich defeated Republican Darren White by 11 percentage points. Heinrich narrowly won reelection in 2010 over Jon Barela, by just 3 percentage points, then successfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2012.
Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham easily won election in 2012 and was reelected by large margins in 2014 and 2016.
Lujan Grisham will be leaving the seat after this current term to run for governor.
The 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts in New Mexico were easily won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Donald Trump (the 1st by 16.5 percent and the 3rd by 15.1 percent, per Daily Kos Elections). The 2nd Congressional District went for Donald Trump by 10.2 percent.