June 8, 2016

Blowouts, recounts and open seats: Results of key races

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

New Mexico Democrats and Republicans went to the polls Tuesday to finish off their primaries.

Most of the primaries came on the Democratic side, including some involving incumbents. One Democratic incumbent lost, while no Republican incumbents even had a primary challenger.

NM Political Report outlined 13 key races (and may have forgot one or two), many of which ended up not being very competitive.

Besides the Democratic primaries in Bernalillo County Commission District 2 race and House District 21, which received their own recaps, here are the results of the other key races we looked at.

All vote totals are unofficial and could change, though the results likely will not.

Senate District 22

Perhaps the most high profile primary pitted incumbent Benny Shendo against controversial former State Rep. Sandra Jeff in a Democratic senate primary.

Shendo had more than 60 percent of the vote and nearly 1,500 more votes than Jeff.

Jeff lost in the 2014 primary for her State House seat after she failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. She ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign in the primary.

House District 35

Activist Angelica Rubio won a three-way race against two other candidates that seemed evenly matched in the weeks and days leading up to the election. The three faced off in the Democratic primary.

Rubio, a first-time candidate, ended up with 45 percent of the vote, beating Paul Martinez (24.11 percent) and Ray J Jaramillo (30.76 percent).

Rubio will face Joseph Bishop in the general election.

Senate District 39

Another district with a lot of focus on the Democratic primary (it’s a pattern) had Liz Stefanics prevail in a four-way race. She received nearly 40 percent of the vote.

The four Democrats hoped to take back the district from Ted Barela. Barela replaced Phil Griego, who resigned amid a scandal involving the then-Senator benefiting from a real estate deal approved by the Legislature.

Mike Anaya, like Stefanics a former Santa Fe County Commissioner, received 22 percent of the vote, narrowly ahead of former Luna Community College board member Ambrose Castellano. Former San Miguel County Commissioner Hugh Lely brought up the rear.

House District 25

This race was always going to be an uphill battle for Chris Berkheimer. His list of scandals started more than a decade ago when he resigned from his job as a Worker’s Compensation Judge after accusations he made sexual advances on an injured worker. When he began his campaign, he was on an ankle monitor for violating a restraining order against his daughter. He was in jail the week before the election for violating probation at one point.

So it’s no surprise that he received less than a quarter of the vote against Christine Trujillo, the incumbent, in the Democratic primary. Trujillo faces no Republican challenger in the general election.

House District 48

For the first time in many, many years, there will not be a Varela in the state House.

Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, has been a fixture in the chambers since 1987. He announced 2016 would be his final legislative session and his son, Jeff, lined up to run.

Former Santa Fe County Commissioner Paul Campos and school board president Linda Trujillo also signed up to run. All are Democrats. Trujillo ended up winning with nearly 40 percent of the vote.

Campos finished with 32 percent and Varela with 29 percent.

Senate District 17

Shannon Robinson runs for Senate every four years and has since 1986. He has lost the last three times, including Tuesday night to incumbent Mimi Stewart. Robinson lost in 2008 to State Auditor Tim Keller in the Democratic primary. Then, in 2012 Robinson ran as a Republican and lost to Keller in the general election. He ran as a Democrat again this year.

Stewart avenged her close 1992 Democratic primary loss to Robinson and will likely keep the seat, as she faces no Republican in the general election.

Stewart ended up winning with nearly 60 percent of the vote, with 69 of 69 voting convenience centers reporting.

Senate District 36

The race between State Rep. Jeff Steinborn and former Dona Ana County Commissioner Oscar Vasquez Butler for a Democratic state senate nomination didn’t end up being close.

Steinborn finished with nearly double the votes of Vasquez and won with 66 percent of the vote.

Steinborn will now face Republican incumbent Lee Cotter in the general election. Cotter won the traditionally Democratic seat against a scandal-plagued Mary Jane Garcia in 2012.

PRC District 1

Cynthia Hall ousted incumbent Karen Montoya—in emphatic fashion. Hall ended up with 57 percent of hte vote, to Montoya’s 43 percent in the Democratic primary.

Hall does not face a Republican in the primary, but former Democratic State Rep. Bob Perls told NM Political Report earlier this year that he intends to run as an independent against the winner of the Democratic primary.

District Attorney Races

One of the first races called by the media was Raul Torrez defeating Ed Perea in the Democratic primary for District Attorney in the 2nd Judicial District.

Torrez won with just over two-thirds of the vote—67 percent. Torrez’s early and absentee vote totals exceeded Perea’s total votes in the race.

In the Third Judicial District, incumbent Democrat Mark D’Antonio won the primary over James Dickens. Republican Brad Cates will face D’Antonio in the general election, though Cates is facing controversy over racy photos found on the website of his firm.

In the First Judicial District, Marco Serna prevailed in a three way race, edging Maria Sanchez-Gagne and Jennifer Padgett. He will face Yvonne Chicoine in the general election.

Bernalillo County Treasurer

No one really knew what to expect in this race, but it turns out two scandal-plagued candidates were, indeed, punished by voters, including the incumbent in the Democratic primary.

Nancy Bearce ended up winning in the four-way race. Scandal-plagued Manny Ortiz finished in fourth, while Patrick Padilla, a former County Treasurer who also had a bad track record of with failed investments, finished narrowly ahead of Ortiz. Christopher Sanchez finished in second, but well behind Bearce’s 39 percent.

Kim Hillard won the Republican primary easily and will face Bearce in the general election.

Automatic recounts

Two races look headed for automatic recounts.

In the House District 32 Republican primary, Vicki Chavez leads Scott Chandler by just 12 votes—888-878.

In the House District 38 Democratic primary, Mary Hotvedt leads by just 31 votes over Karen Whitlock, 1,759 to 1,729.

Any legislative races within one percentage point are subject to automatic recounts. This includes primary elections.