November 7, 2018

Heinrich headed for a second Senate term

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U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will serve a second term in Washington D.C. after a significant win against Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian Gary Johnson. Heinrich gave his acceptance speech to a crowd of supporters and alongside his wife and two sons.

“In the face of a president who defies so much of what we stand for as Americans, I will continue to stand with you,” he told the crowd. He said he will continue to oppose a border wall between the United States and Mexico that “our border communities do not want and do not need.”

A Senate race that was largely assumed to go to Heinrich, saw a twist when one of the rounds of musical chairs in the Libertarian Party of New Mexico included a swap-out from New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn to Johnson, a former New Mexico governor. Dunn had been polling mostly in single digits with Rich and Heinrich splitting most of the votes.

After Johnson joined the race, Heinrich’s fundraising focus intensified and redirected toward stopping a Johnson win. And after a poll showed Johnson in second place behind Heinrich, some Johnson supporters called for Rich to drop out. Usually those types of calls are directed at third party candidates. And when another poll showed Rich in second place, the New Mexico GOP called for Johnson to drop out.

The televised debates during the race were usually punctuated by Johnson’s outspoken and unapologetic nature. But he was much more reserved on Election Day after at least one news outlet called the race a win for Heinrich.

“It’s a disappointment, but clearly Democrats think that the best defense against [President Donald] Trump is to vote Democrat,” Johnson said.

The former two-term Republican governor has a home in Santa Fe as well as Taos and is an avid skier, cyclist, and rock climber. A life he sarcastically called “crummy” to which he’ll return.

“Don’t anybody shed a tear for me,” Johnson said.

Rich said he plans to incrementally hand over his construction contracting business to his son while he moves on to a new venture he isn’t ready to make public yet. Rich told a crowd of his supporters: “New Mexico hasn’t seen the last of me.”

Heinrich told supporters that he would hold the Trump administration accountable for “inhumane policies that turn away refugees and take children away from their parents.” And said the United States will never balance its budget by “undermining” programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

The first-term senator also spoke about national security and scientific innovation, and called for the “necessity of tackling climate change head-on in this country.”

“In the coming decades, we will repower American with clean, domestic energy from New Mexico,” he said. “This state will be at the heart of this transition.” A transition, he said, which would boost jobs and also revitalize rural communities in the state.