New Mexico elected a Democratic governor Tuesday, and she will have an expanded Democratic majority in the New Mexico state House at her side. Democrats have held a majority in both houses of the legislature since 2016 and after Tuesday night’s wins, they could hold up to 47 seats in the 70-member chamber, the most in decades, depending on several close races, including some that will trigger automatic recounts. With no changes from the recounts, Democrats would hold 46 seats. The victories were especially widespread in Bernalillo County, where Democrats defeated several Republican incumbents, including Jim Dines and David Adkins. Incumbent Republican Jim Dines trails retired engineer Abbas Akhil in House District 20 by 0.68 percentage points.
Longtime Republican State Rep. Larry Larrañaga dropped out of his reelection bid. The influential voice on the state budget made the surprise announcement in a statement Tuesday afternoon after more than two decades in office. “During the past few weeks, my family and I have experienced some new challenges,” the Albuquerque legislator said in a statement. “After much reflection and discussion with my family, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw my name from this year’s ballot and retire from the House.” Since House District 27, which Larrañaga has represented since 1994, is completely within Bernalillo County.
Dr. Lisa Shin, a Los Alamos optometrist and daughter of Korean immigrants, is running as a Republican for the seat in the state House of Representatives currently held by Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard. “As a successful small business owner and health care provider, I bring a pragmatic, common sense approach to the issues facing us. I believe that free market principles based on individual choice and personal responsibility can strengthen our schools, our health care system and our economy,” Shin, 49, said in a statement. Two Democrats, lawyer Christine Chandler and retired scientist Pete Sheehey, also are running for the seat. Both are members of the Los Alamos County Council.
After Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and Democrats failed to take control of the Senate, many saw 2016 as a disastrous election for Democrats. At least nationwide. But in New Mexico the party retook control the state House of Representatives and expanded their majority in the Senate. Statewide, Clinton defeated Trump by 8 percent, even though over 9 percent of voters backed Libertarian nominee and former Gov. Gary Johnson. While the election took place ten months ago and may seem like old news, the results can provide a glimpse into which races will be competitive in 2018.