More people voted in 2016 than in 2012, but turnout fell when compared to the amount of registered voters. And both total votes and turnout fell far behind the numbers of 2008. Because of this and other factors, Hillary Clinton won New Mexico by a smaller margin than Barack Obama did in either 2008 or 2012, and even lost some counties that Obama won four years ago. In fact, Clinton received a lower share of the vote in every county in the state except for Los Alamos County. Vote totals will not be finalized until canvasses are complete, so all numbers in this post from 2016 could change slightly.
Less than a week after Donald Trump won the election for president of the United States, the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city is not backing down from so-called “sanctuary” status. This comes despite threats to cut federal money to such cities made by the president-elect during the campaign. “The threat is intended to divide us against each other,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wrote in a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon. “It is one of the first, but it won’t be the last we see out of this administration, which based on its own words intends to persecute and attack not only immigrants but women, Muslims, people of color, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and more.”
Though there is no formal legal definition, the politically charged term “sanctuary city” typically refers to cities that limit cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on immigration policies. Santa Fe, for example, bars the use of public resources to check for someone’s immigration status.
One bright spot New Mexico Republicans point to in state elections is the defeat of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. The Belen Democrat lost after Advance New Mexico Now, a Super PAC with close ties to Gov. Susana Martinez, and other organizations targeted him for what they saw as obstruction of important issues. In recent days, Sanchez has told media outlets this nearly single-minded focus on his state Senate district may have tipped the balance and allowed Democrats to take back the state House of Representatives while expanding their state Senate majority. “I’m really grateful for her aiming at me,” Sanchez told the Albuquerque Journal. “They focused their attention on me, and they didn’t pay attention to what they needed to pay attention to.”
He said something similar to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Gov. Susana Martinez took out her major target in Tuesday’s election, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. But that single victory came at a cost. Republicans lost the state House after two years in control, while Democrats strengthened their margin in the state Senate. The Democrats will control the House by at least a 37-33 margin, with an outside shot at a 39-31 split. Two races are going to recounts.
Despite the national results, proponents of abortion rights in New Mexico have some things to celebrate about coming out of the local elections. A political action committee for the local branch of Planned Parenthood spent more than $21,000 to target four state legislative races, according to state campaign finance reports. After Election Day, those seats came out 3-1 in their favor. “I think we had a total of 21,000 doors and phone calls across the state,” said Marshall Martinez, public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico. Martinez estimated that 40 percent those who helped Planned Parenthood in the New Mexico campaigns were volunteers.
While it’s clear after election night that Democrats took back control of the state House of Representatives from Republicans and expanded their lead in the state Senate, to what extent won’t be known until recounts take place. The preliminary unofficial results show three races, two for House seats and one for a Senate seat, within 1 percent, which means there will be automatic recounts. These recounts are paid for by the state. If a candidate who lost by more than 1 percent wants a recount, that candidate would need to pay for it themselves. Joey Keefe, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office, told NM Political Report that the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday to convene the canvassing period, where official vote-tallying will take place.
A night that ended with one of the most stunning upsets in modern presidential history began, in Albuquerque and likely in many other cities throughout the country, with Democrats feeling optimistic about the country on the cusp of electing its first female president. At the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque, an enthusiastic crowd of state Democrats gathered to watch the election results and, they thought, to welcome Hillary Clinton to the White House. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who easily won reelection to represent the Albuquerque area, showed up wearing a white pantsuit. She also wore a button bearing Clinton’s face on her chest. She called her outfit “my white suffrage Hillary Clinton pantsuit.”
In a disastrous night for Democrats nationwide that saw Republican Donald Trump win the presidency, the state party actually did well, retaking the House of Representatives and expanding the party’s majority in the state Senate. The scope of the advantage in both chambers isn’t yet known, as there could be up to four automatic recounts, two in each chamber. Democrats also won back the Secretary of State seat when Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver easily defeated Republican Nora Espinoza. “What a difference two years makes,” Toulouse Oliver told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, referring to her 2014 loss to Republican Dianna Duran. Duran resigned last year hours before pleading guilty to counts of misusing campaign funds, for which she spent 30 days in jail.
The Election Day that seemed like it would never happen is here. Today, not only will we see the results in a presidential election, New Mexicans will also decide the next Secretary of State and which party controls the State House of Representatives and State Senate. Also, a whole bunch of county commission seats are up for grabs. It’s a very big year, and we’ll be here to cover all of the the most important races, stories and anything else that comes up. We’ll start posting at 6 p.m., but look for the largest amount of posts to come as the polls close at 7 p.m.
As in past years, Common Cause New Mexico is running an election protection hotline for voters and others to report problems at polling locations throughout the state. So far, according to Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Viki Harrison, the reports have been “typical” problems that they have seen in past years. For example, some polling locations told voters they needed photo ID to vote. But a call to the county clerks in charge straightened out that problem. Some others were concerned about anti-abortion trucks “rolling through Corrales this morning.” The next stop for the trucks may be Los Lunas around midday.