New Mexico’s House District 21 will have a new Representative next January after high school teacher Debbie Sariñana won the primary election on Tuesday night. Sariñana won the race, by about five percentage points, against incumbent Idalia Lechuga-Tena and a third candidate, Amanda KinKaid in the Democratic primary. Sariñana told NM Political Report that she was excited about the win and said she credited her win to a good group of campaign staff. “It was a tough race,” Sariñana said. “We worked hard, we had great volunteers.”
Sariñana was aided by her fellow teachers in the race, including with union members canvassing for her and helping to get out the vote.
While Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico began casting ballots weeks ago with early and absentee voting, today is election day where tens of thousands more are expected to cast their ballots. While much of the attention will be focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duking it out in the presidential primary, there will be a number of down-ballot races with big implications going forward. We took a look at the thirteen races you need to watch tonight when polls close at 7:00 p.m.
Senate District 17
Democratic incumbent Sen. Mimi Stewart’s runs to retain the senate seat in SD17. In 2014, the Bernalillo County Commission appointed her to fill the vacancy left by Tim Keller when he became State Auditor. Former State Senator Shannon Robinson, who held the SD17 spot for 20 years before losing to Keller in 2008, will face Stewart and try to reclaim his old Senate seat.
An Albuquerque teacher officially announced she will run for a House seat she lost out on earlier this year. After applying to fill the District 21 spot last month, Democrat Debbie Sariñana announced on Thursday that she would run for the spot that has seen two vacancies in the past year. Sariñana told NM Political Report she chose to announce her candidacy now because primary elections are next June and candidates cannot raise money during the legislative session that starts next month. Sariñana said she grew up in the district and moved back after finishing her college degree. She said working as a teacher in the area has shown her how many people are struggling with things like jobs and healthcare.