June 3, 2020

Progressive Democrats defeat incumbents, with some races still pending

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Tuesday night proved to be a night of historic upsets against state Senators who have long held onto their seats.

Much of the action was on the Democratic side, though it appears two Republican incumbents also lost their primaries.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, after 32 years in the state Senate and the most powerful legislator as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is extremely likely to lose to grassroots challenger Neomi Martinez-Parra. Smith represents SD 35. He more than doubled Martinez-Parra in donations.

As of 1:30 a.m., Martinez-Parra has 2,709 votes to Smith’s 2,266 votes. Martinez-Parra didn’t return a call in the early morning hours Wednesday.

All numbers are unofficial under the official state canvass later this month.

Not all votes were counted Tuesday night. The Secretary of State announced six counties will resume counting Wednesday. Two of those, McKinley and Doña Ana counties, mean that some state Senate District races won’t be decided until Wednesday.

Related: Leger Fernandez wins CD3 Democratic primary

State Sen. Mary Kay Papen appears to be in danger of losing , though it’s likely too soon to call that race. The state Senate President Pro Tem has 44.08 percent of the vote – 1,369 votes – to progressive challenger Carrie Hamblen’s 48.55 percent of the vote – 1,508 votes. But only 3,106 votes have been counted in that district as of early Wednesday morning.

Update: State Senators John Arthur Smith, Mary Kay Papen lose in primary

One incumbent to lose decisively Tuesday night was state Sen. Clemente Sanchez in Senate District 30. A retired school teacher, Cordova raised $109,164.78, mostly through small donations from residents of the district. She came close to Sanchez’s financial heft and beat him handily with 3,276 votes against Sanchez’s 2,054.

Cordova didn’t return a call made in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Two additional state Senate Democrats lost their bid against grassroots challengers during the Tuesday primary.

Perhaps one of the bigger surprises of the night was state Sen. Richard Martinez’s loss to challenger Leo Jaramillo. Jaramillo didn’t enter the race until the beginning of the year, which meant he didn’t have much time to raise money or campaign.

Jaramillo raised $30,550. With $36,670, Martinez didn’t raise significantly more, but he reported $112,559.74 as his opening balance in his April campaign finance report.

Martinez was found guilty of an aggravated DWI in December. Jaramillo, who said he was “speechless” Tuesday night, said he thought Martinez’s DWI played a role in his win.

“People are ready for someone new after 20 years,” Jaramillo said by phone late Tuesday night.

Jaramillo, who is a Rio Arriba County Commissioner, said he stressed strengthening the economy and diversifying the state’s economy, which is largely dependent on oil and gas extraction. The former educator also emphasized education, he said.

Another educator in the race, challenger Siah Correa Henphill won big during Tuesday night’s primary in Senate District 28 against incumbent state Sen. Gabe Ramos. Ramos held the seat for two years. He replaced Lt. Gov. Howie Morales in 2018.

Correa Hemphill, a school psychologist, finished with 6,918 votes in and all precincts reported, she won with 61.64 percent of the vote to Ramos’ 38.36 percent.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham endorsed Correa Hemphill in May.

Correa Hemphill, who called Tuesday night “the most exciting night of my life,” said the fact that she was able to raise $114,680.74 almost exclusively through small donations from Silver City residents was “symbolic.”

“The majority of the money we received came from this district. Those people are asking for change and want to see an investment in our community,” Correa Hemphill said.

Correa Hemphill emphasized child well being during her race, with concern for kids who need more emotional support than they’re able to receive. She also said she thought the controversial Gila River diversion played a role in the race.

Related: Herrell wins GOP primary, will face Torres Small again for CD2 seat in general election

“People want to make sure we live in a safe community and water is protected for future generations,” she said.

State Senator George Munoz is ahead of progressive challenger Noreen Kelly, but it’s still too early to call that race.

As of 1:30 a.m., Munoz has 1,857 votes to Kelly’s 1,324 votes.

The one incumbent of the seven conservative and moderate Senators who were targeted who unquestionably held onto his seat, state Sen. Pete Campos, handily defeated his opponent, nurse-midwife Connie Trujillo. The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club endorsed Campos, who did not respond to a call late Tuesday night. Campos received 7,008 votes to Trujillo’s 2,890 votes.

Republican incumbents lose

Two Republicans also lost or appeared likely to lose primaries on Tuesday.

One was State Sen. Gregg Fulfer. The Republican lost in the Senate District 40 primary to David Gallegos, a state representative who challenged him. Gallegos won with over 53 percent of the vote.

State Rep. Gregg Schmedes leads James White 3,266 to 2,846, though the absent voter board in Bernalillo County still has approximately 10,000 ballots to count. It isn’t clear how many are in the district, but it appears Schmedes is poised to win the seat. He would face Democrat Claudia Risner and Libertarian John Douglas McDivitt in the general election.

Open races

Sen. John Sapien opted not to run for another term in the Senate District 9 seat after three extremely close races. 

As of 1:30 a.m., with a large amount of ballots to be counted in Sandoval County, Brenda McKenna leads the Democratic primary with 767 votes to Kevin David Lucero’s 655 and Ben Rodefer’s 344. 

On the Republican side at the same time, John Stahlman Clark led with 1,270 votes to 754 for Bridget Condon and 302 for Tania Arletha Dennis.

Related: Ronchetti wins Republican primary for U.S. Senate

Sen. William Payne announced his retirement from Senate District 20, which he has held since 1997. Four Democrats and two Republicans sought the position. John Morton holds a large lead for the Republican nomination, while Martin Hickey leads Rebecca Puck Stair by 125 votes for the Democratic nomination and appears poised to try to take the conservative-leaning seat.

House District 40 representative Joseph Sanchez, a Democrat, left to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Roger Evan Montoya won the Democratic nomination over Matthew Elias Gonzales. He will face Justin Salazar-Torrez in the general election in the heavily Democratic district.

Incumbents who won

Mimi Stewart defeated former State Sen. Shannon Robinson in Senate District 17 in the third time the two had faced off. She will face Republican Rodney Deskin in the general election.

Shannon Pinto, who was appointed to represent Senate District 3 after the death of her grandfather John Pinto, easily defeated Shawn Nelson.

As of 1:30 a.m., Sen. Joseph Cervantes held a healthy lead over two competitors in Senate District 31’s Democratic primary. He will face Republican John Thomas Roberts in the general election.

Incumbent Raymundo Lara led in House District 34 over Bealquin “Bill” Gomez. It is the third straight cycle the two faced each other, with Gomez winning in the 2016 Democratic primary and Lara in the 2018 primary. The winner will face Republican Dawn Ladd in the general election.

State Sen. William Burt also easily defeated Christopher Glendon Hensley in the District 33 Republican primary. He will face Democrat Denise Lang-Browne in the general election in the heavily Republican district.

In the state House, incumbent Democrat Patricia Roybal Caballero won the Demcoratic nomination easily over Edwina Pina Cisneros in House District 13, as did incumbent Miguel Garcia over Robert Chavez in House District 14 and Deborah Armstrong over Laura E Lucero y Ruiz de Gutierrez in House District 17. 

Marian Matthews, who was appointed to replace State Rep. Bill Pratt after he passed away while in office, won her primary over William Orr and will face Robert Godshall in the general election. Godshall won the Republican primary over Jill Michel.

Other primaries

Susan Cescovo leads Joseph Tiano by 36 votes for the Republcian nomination in Senate District 39. The winner would face incumbent Democrat Liz Stefanics, who won election in the seat in 2016 by 1.99 percentage points.

In House District 20, Meredith Dixon easily defeated Ilena Estrella in the Democratic primary and will face Michael Hendricks in the general election. State Rep. Abbas Akhil, the first Muslim member of the Legisalture, did not seek reelection in the seat.

In House District 23, Ellis McMath defeated Mendonca-Trujillo in the Republican primary and will face incumbent Democrat Daymon Ely in the general election; this is a swing district.

Correction: This story originally referred to Connie Trujillo as a “nurse/midwife.” She is a nurse-midwife. We apologize for the error.