Matthew Reichbach is the editor of the NM Political Report. The former founder and editor of the NM Telegram, Matthew was also a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and one of the original hires at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation and formerly published, “The Morning Word,” a daily political news summary for NM Telegram and the Santa Fe Reporter.
Attorney General Hector Balderas has his next job lined up, as president of Northern New Mexico College in Española. Balderas is term-limited and could not run for a third consecutive term as Attorney General.
Balderas was chosen unanimously by the NNMC Board of Regents from a list of four finalists. “I’m inspired that the community was involved in the selection process—they have hope for change, and I am honored that the regents, faculty and staff will partner with me as we take Northern New Mexico College into the future, building on student success and institutional development,” Balderas said in a statement. Balderas will still need to discuss his contract with the board. His term as attorney general ends at the end of the year, and his replacement, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez, will be sworn in at the start of 2023.
House Democrats will maintain their 45 seats in the state House to 25 for Republicans in the upcoming legislative session, with all precincts reporting, but a handful of votes still to count (provisional ballots and other ballots that require a hand tally). Update (3:30 p.m.): After this was published, one race, HD-68, switched and the Democrat now leads by 30 votes. This story has been updated to reflec this. This is after Democrats held a 45-24 edge over Republicans coming into the elections. One member was Decline to State, which means he did not affiliate with a political party.
After the calendar changed from Tuesday to Wednesday, two other congressional races had projected winners and election workers counted 187,000 votes in the 2nd Congressional District race with an indeterminate number of votes remaining, the race between Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez remained too close to call. Update: Wednesday afternoon, Vasquez declared victory and Herrell conceded. Story here. Vasquez led in the unofficial Secretary of State numbers by just over 1,000 votes in the race that looms even larger with an expected Republican wave failing to materialize. With control of the U.S. House to be determined, the southern New Mexico race remained one of dozens that have yet to be called.
After months of contentious campaigning, millions of dollars in TV ads and weeks of early voting, Election Day is here. The main event in New Mexico this year with no president on the ballot is who will reside in the governor’s mansion, with incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham facing a tough challenge from Mark Ronchetti, a former weatherman and former Republican U.S. Senate nominee.
But there are many other races on the ballot. Every other statewide constitutional office is up for grabs, including an open race for attorney general and a potential second full term for the state’s top election official, the secretary of state. All three congressional districts, with newly redrawn district lines, will also be on the ballot, as will all 70 state House seats. In other words, there’s a lot to watch at 7 p.m. when polls close and county clerks prepare to count ballots and release results.
Increased absentee voting can’t offset the plunge in early voting from four years ago, but it easily exceeds the record-lows of 2014. In 2018, the last midterm election, voters turned out in record numbers, led by an open gubernatorial race in which Michelle Lujan Grisham won, defeating Republican Steve Pearce. This year, as Lujan Grisham seeks reelection, early voting dropped even as absentee voting is on pace to easily exceed not only 2018, but reach near the heights of returned absentee ballots in a midterm. As of the morning of Nov. 1, seven days ahead of Election Day, 259,486 New Mexicans had cast their ballots, 198,624 early in-person and another 60,862 by returning absentee ballots.
A poll released on Monday showed a closer race than two other polls released earlier in the week. The poll, conducted by Emerson College Polling for the Washington D.C. paper The Hill, showed incumbent Gov. Lujan Grisham leading her Republican opponent Mark Ronchetti narrowly, 49 percent to 46 percent among likely voters, with 1 percent backing Libertarian nominee Karen Bedonie. When undecided voters were pushed, the race further tightened with Lujan Grisham’s lead narrowing to 50 percent to 48 percent. Lujan Grisham holds a large lead among those who said they already voted, 59 percent to 39.5 percent. Ronchetti, meanwhile, leads among those who said they were very likely to vote, 48.4 percent to 44.8 percent.
Two polls in the final days of the gubernatorial campaign show incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham with a lead over her Republican challenger, Mark Ronchetti. The Albuquerque Journal’s poll, conducted by Research & Polling, Inc. and long considered the best public polling in New Mexico, showed a lead of 8 points for Lujan Grisham. The poll showed Lujan Grisham with 50 percent, Ronchetti with 42 percent and Libertarian candidate Karen Bedonie with 3 percent. Another 4 percent were undecided in the final days of the election. Meanwhile, a poll for KOB-TV, conducted by SurveyUSA, found a 7 point lead for Lujan Grisham.
A poll of likely voters in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District finds a “virtual tie,” with Democrat Gabe Vasquez leading incumbent Republican Yvette Herrell 48 percent to 47 percent in the final days leading up to the election. The poll was conducted by Siena College for the New York Times as part of a series of polls in battleground districts. The poll found that Herrell had a significant amount of “crossover support” from voters who said they voted for Joe Biden in 2020. Herrell voted against certifying the 2020 election even after the insurrection at the Capitol. It wasn’t a major driver of votes, as just 45 percent of those polled said they would rather vote for someone who thinks Biden won the 2020 election, while 22 percent said they would rather vote for someone who thinks Republican Donald Trump won the 2020 election, while 30 percent said it did not matter either way.
New Mexico voters indicated that they support abortion rights, including New Mexico’s repeal of an antiquated abortion law. In a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report, 55 percent of likely voters said they supported the repeal of the law that allowed abortion to remain legal in New Mexico despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision this summer that overturned Roe v. Wade. Another 33 percent said they opposed it and 11 percent said that they were not sure. This is similar to the results in June, before the Supreme Court decided Dobbs. In that poll, 53 percent said they would support such a repeal and 36 percent said they would oppose it.
New Mexico likely voters are evenly split on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while voters are virtually split on the same question about President Joe Biden. A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report found that 48 percent of voters approved and an equal number disapproved of what Lujan Grisham did during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining 4 percent were not sure. For Biden 46 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved, while 7 percent were not sure. There have been virtually no restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID for months.