Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she would not seek reelection to Congress and instead run for governor well before 2018. Lujan Grisham defeated her Republican opponent Steve Pearce with a healthy ten point lead in November after beating her primary opponent Jeff Apodaca in the Democratic primary election by 60 points. Not surprisingly, much of the state’s political news focused on the gubernatorial race, which often became contentious both in the primary and general election. That contention was ever-present at the Democratic Party of New Mexico’s pre-primary convention, when one of Lujan Grisham’s former congressional staffers interrupted the congresswoman’s stump speech and was subsequently arrested. Despite winning by a large margin at that convention, Lujan Grisham’s opponents refused to drop out and accused her of cheating during her campaign.
And even before Lujan Grisham won her primary outright, her soon-to-be Republican opponent’s campaign was calling the general election tied.
But Lujan Grisham’s win wasn’t cheap. The latest campaign finance reports showed Lujan Grisham’s campaign spent a total of $9.5 million, compared to Pearce’s $4.9 million.
Now Lujan Grisham is headed to Santa Fe as the second Latina governor to hold that position.
For now the focus is on her transition and who she will appointment to key positions. Besides cabinet appointments, Lujan Grisham will be tasked with signing off on a handful of University of New Mexico regents, a senator to replace her Lt. Gov. Howie Morales and three judicial positions.
Lujan Grisham will also face a budget surplus, similar to 2003, and a looming call from some constituents to sign off on legalized recreational cannabis. But maybe one of the most immediate tasks Lujan Grisham will face is filling the role of Public Education Secretary. Lujan Grisham already said she would not appeal a court decision that said the state’s schools are underfunded.