June 6, 2018

Women win contested congressional races, to face off in November

Andy Lyman

Deb Haaland.

Women dominated contested congressional races in the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Deb Haaland won the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary election late Tuesday night. Haaland picked up more than 40 percent of the votes in race with five other names on the ballot.

About three hours after the polls closed, Haaland addressed her supporters packed into a small business space in Albuquerque Nob Hill, which also serves as her campaign office.

“I am honored by all of your presence here,” Haaland told the crowd.

“I need to give a shout out right now to the LGBTQ community,” Haaland said to loud cheers.

She also expressed gratitude toward her former opponent, recently turned supporter, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis* for leaving the race, for putting “our community before his own desires.”

Davis dropped out last week, just after a poll showed him close to last place among the six candidates on the ballot.

Haaland ended her brief, but emotional speech with an anecdote about a woman she met at a political function.

“A woman who was running for congress in New York, a black woman, came up and said, ‘The whole country is behind you,’” Haaland said.

Haaland easily won the race, with her closest opponent, former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, about 20 points behind her and University of New Mexico law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez in a close third place.

Haaland will go on to face Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton in November’s election. Neither faced an opponent in the primary.

2nd Congressional District

Two women will face each other in the 2nd Congressional District general election, and whomever wins will be the first woman to represent the southern New Mexico district in its entire history.

State Rep. Yvette Herrell won a four-way Republican primary, in which her main competitor was former state party chairman Monty Newman. She also defeated former Trump administration official Gavin Clarkson and digital marketer Clayburn Griffin.

In the Democratic primary, Xochitl Torres Small easily defeated Madeline Hildebrandt. Torres Small received the support of several prominent national Democratic groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Torres Small, a water attorney, said she was “incredibly humbled” by the support she received.

“I’m running to expand opportunities for hardworking families and to strengthen our rural communities with better access to healthcare, investments in infrastructure and good-paying jobs,” Torres Small said. “I will always fight for our values, and I’m ready to put my experience to work for the hardworking people of southern New Mexico.”

The seat is open because U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, opted to run for governor instead of another term in the seat he has held over most of the last 15 years.

Since the state received a third congressional seat, it has been held be a Democrat for only one term.

Herrell ran an unabashedly conservative campaign and received the endorsement of conservatives like Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Both are leaders of the Freedom Caucus, a bloc of very conservative Republicans that includes Pearce.

Other federal races

In the 3rd Congressional District, no primary candidates had an opponent. Incumbent Democrat Ben Lujan is favored to win a sixth term over Republican Jerald Steve McFall and Libertarian Christopher Manning.

The U.S. Senate general election will also feature three candidates, with incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich facing Republican contractor Mick Rich and Libertarian State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

None of these three candidates faced an opponent in the primary.

*Davis is the former executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, which helps find funding for NM Political Report. No one at ProgressNow New Mexico has any input on this or any other story.