December 27, 2022

2022 Top Stories #4: Democrats sweep congressional races

"Vote Here" signs in front of the Otero County Administration Building on New York Avenue in Alamogordo.

"Vote Here" signs in front of the Otero County Administration Building on New York Avenue in Alamogordo.

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers.

See our entire countdown of 2022 top stories, to date, here.

A Blue Wave came to New Mexico in November with Democrats winning all three federal congressional seats for the third time since 1982 when New Mexico was granted a third congressional district.

1st Congressional District incumbent Democrat Melanie Ann Stansbury easily won reelection against Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes and Independent write-candidate Victoria L. Gonzales.

Stansbury won 56 percent of the vote while Garcia Holmes won 44 percent and Gonzales received less than 1 percent with 58 votes in her favor.

“My commitment to all of you tonight is what I’ve always committed as I’ve served as your congresswoman, as a state legislator, as a teacher, as somebody who has fought for our communities my entire life,” Stansbury said during her Election Night victory speech. “I will show up. I will listen. I will travel to every community in our district and across the state and I will continue to deliver for our people.”

In the hardfought 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez finished with 50 percent each with votes showing Vasquez’s 96,986 votes over Herrell’s 95,636 votes.

Democratic write-in candidate in Eliseo Luna received 51 votes.

Even though the race was close, it was not close enough to trigger a recount which would have happened if the spread was 480 votes instead of 1,350 votes.

Vasquez announced his victory and Herrell conceded in the days after the election.

“Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing that happens in Washington that New Mexico can’t do better,” Vasquez said in a post-election press release. “To everyone out there struggling, no matter whether you voted for me or not, please know this: I see you, I hear you, and I’ll fight my heart out for you, because public service is a sacred responsibility that I will never take for granted.”

Herrell said in her post-election statement that she felt the decennial redistricting was “gerrymandered” since it now holds part of Albuquerque’s South Valley which is traditionally liberal where the district was predominantly conservative prior to redistricting.

“While this was enough to give them a victory by less than 1 percent in this election, I am confident in our party’s ability to retake this seat next cycle as Joe Biden’s agenda continues to damage our great nation. Stay tuned!” Herrell said in her concession statement.

Herrell, who hails from Alamogordo, served in the state House District 51 seat from 2011-2018 when she first ran for Congress.

She lost that year to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small who lost the seat to Herrell in the 2020 election.

Herrell was one of those who voted against certifying the 2020 General Election, even though she won her seat in that election.

Vasquez is a former Las Cruces city councilman and is a first generation American.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Teresa Leger Fernández won 58 percent of the vote to Republican challenger Alexis Martinez Johnson’s 42 percent.

The rematch of 2020’s race was almost identical even after redistricting brought more conservative areas into the 3rd Congressional District.

“Tonight, our communities and gente showed what it looks like to win in rural New Mexico. Together, we have shown that small places can do big things – and that when we listen to each other, we can turn pain into progress,” Leger Fernández said in a post-election statement. “When we listen to each other, we can tackle any problem.”