November 7, 2018

Democrats expand state House majority

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. Any legislative race within one percentage point triggers such a recount.

Other Republican incumbents lost by larger margins, and it’s likely that Republicans will hold just two state House seats with areas in Bernalillo County—and none in Doña Ana County.

In House District 28, Rep. Jimmie Hall lost his bid for an eighth term to political newcomer Melanie Stansbury.

David Adkins on Albuquerque’s Westside lost by a significant margin to former American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico treasurer Joy Garratt, who had previously lost a close state Senate race in 2014.

In a race that few considered in play until a few months ago—when the incumbent, Republican Monica Youngblood, was arrested for and convicted of a DWI—Democratic retired minister Karen Bash handily defeated Youngblood in her former Republican stronghold.

In a district split between Doña Ana and Otero counties, Willie Madrid defeated incumbent Republican Ricky Little. However, votes are still being counted in the region’s most-populous county.

And in northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan County, Sharon Clahchischilliage lost to Democrat Anthony Allison. Clahchischilliage defeated scandal-plagued Ray Begaye in 2012 and easily held the seat in 2014 and 2016. Democrats also won open seats previously held by Republicans, including House District 30 in Bernalillo County, where House Minority Leader Nate Gentry opted not to run for another term. Natalie Figueroa, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Gentry in 2016, easily defeated Republican John Jones this time around. Jones’ wife, Janice Arnold-Jones, also fell short in her bid for the 1st Congressional District.

In House District 15, Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes  did not run for reelection, and it to went to Democrat Dayan Hochman defeated Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter.

And in the Northeast Heights of Albuquerque House District 27, Democrat William Pratt narrowly defeated Republican Robert Godshall. This is the seat long-held by late-Rep. Larry Larrañaga, who passed away in October.

In the East Mountains-area House District 22, Republican Gregg Schmedes, defeated Democrat Jessica Velasquez by just over 1 percentage point and 168 votes in the race to replace Rep. James Smith.

The other Republican left in Bernalillo County is Bill Rehm, who lacked a Democratic opponent and  easily defeated a Libertarian candidate.

Democrats Daymon Ely and Liz Thomson, both in Albuquerque-area seats, easily held on to their seats. Christine Chandler held the Los Alamos-area District 43, while Nathan Small won reelection in House District 36. Small’s wife, Xochitl Torres Small, is locked in a tight battle for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

One Democratic incumbent, however, trails, with a possible automatic recount looming. Eastern New Mexico’s George Dodge Jr. trails Republican Martin Ruben Zamora by just 30 votes out of 5,916 cast—behind by 0.5 percentage points.

In a high-profile Santa Fe county race, Andrea Romero held back write-in candidate  Heather Nordquist. Romero defeated incumbent Carl Trujillo in the Democratic primary, but allegations against her over financial indiscretions during her time as  executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities prompted Nordquist, a Democrat, to launch a write-in campaign.

And in another Santa Fe-area race, Democratic incumbent Matthew McQueen held back the challenge from independent Jarratt Applewhite.

All current numbers are from unofficial numbers on the Secretary of State’s website. The results will be finalized later this month.

There will be a lot of new faces on the House side of the Roundhouse in the 2019 legislative session. In all, 18 legislators who were members of the House during the 2018 legislative session will not return in 2019, whether through retirement, losing in the primary or losing in the general election.

Clarification: Added clarification that with no changes to results from a recount, Democrats would hold 46 seats.