In a rematch of the 2020 election, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández once again defeated Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson to represent New Mexico’s Third Congressional District. Leger Fernández took the stage around 9:10 p.m. for her victory speech. The Associated Press called the race at 8:51 p.m.
In 2020, Leger Fernández won 59 percent of the votes compared to Martinez Johnson’s 41 percent. However, redistricting brought more conservative areas into the district, including parts of Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties. At about 9:30 p.m., unofficial results showed Leger Fernández leading with 55 percent of the votes.
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.
New Mexico’s Republicans and advocates for oil and gas producers often accuse the state’s ruling Democrats of trying to kill the local fossil fuel industry, but industry donations and agency funding outcomes tell a different story. Democrats hold a lock on all statewide offices and both chambers of the Legislature heading into the midterm elections, and according to data from the Secretary of State’s Office, many of New Mexico’s most powerful Democrats bring in more oil and gas contributions than their Republican counterparts. Often a lot more. And that could be influencing policy in favor of fossil fuel production. This tension plays out in the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) where, so far in this election cycle, the two Democratic leaders — Rep. Patty Lundstrom and Sen. George Muñoz — received more in oil and gas campaign contributions than any of the Republicans on the committee.
Five days ahead of Election Day, President Joe Biden visited Albuquerque in a stump stop for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s re-election. The visit came during the New Mexico Democratic Party rally at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque and amid an extremely close race against Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti. “I tell you what, that governor, she’s something else, isn’t she?” Biden said, referring to Lujan Grisham who spoke before him at the rally. “She’s the real deal.”
Lujan Grisham entered the stage to cheers of “MLG! MLG!” by the crowd of about 300 people at the venue.
After initially rejecting the proposals from the state’s three investor-owned utilities proposals for their community solar programs, state regulators approved one part of the modified versions the three utilities submitted—the bill credits.
This came as a result of advice notices the utilities were required to file. The notices inform community members and potential developers about the procedures necessary to get a community solar project going.
Community solar projects are arrays that produce electricity utility customers can purchase through a subscription process. This allows people who cannot afford or get solar power like low-income homeowners as well as renters and apartment dwellers to benefit from clean, affordable solar. The utility takes the solar from the array and delivers it to the subscribers within their territory. The subscribers then benefit from a bill credit, which will be calculated on a per kilowatt hour basis.
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Before I dig into the news, I would like to remind everyone that Election Day is Tuesday. The results of the election could have major implications for the energy transition as well as current priorities such as the 30 x 30 initiative. Polls close at 7 p.m. and if you are in line when they close you will be allowed to cast your ballot.
Moving on to the energy sector, a new NASA discovery sheds light on methane pollution in New Mexico as the state works to cut emissions.
Earlier this year, two New Mexico regulatory bodies adopted rules to address emissions from oil and gas infrastructure.
If Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti wins election, he can still impact reproductive rights policy, even without being able to pass his priorities through the Legislature with Democratic majorities. Ronchetti has campaigned on an anti-abortion policy. During the Republican primary, his campaign website said he believed “life should be protected – at all stages.” In a commercial in September he said, that if elected, he would support a voter referendum on banning abortion after 15 weeks. But in July, Albuquerque megachurch pastor Steve Smothermon said Ronchetti told him privately that, if elected, Ronchetti still intended to ban abortion. Ronchetti’s campaign denied it.
Related: Pastor says Ronchetti would seek to ban abortion
Smothermon reiterated the claim to his congregation in October, saying that “he told me exactly what I said.”
Ronchetti’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Customers of the state’s largest electric utility will continue paying the same rate they were paying when the San Juan Generating Station was operating—at least for now. Earlier this year, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission ordered Public Service Company of New Mexico to issue rate credits to prevent customers from paying for the operations of a now-closed coal-fired power plant that customers no longer benefit from. PNM promptly appealed this order to the New Mexico Supreme Court and asked the court to stay the implementation of the rate credits until after the case is resolved. On Tuesday, the court granted this stay. That means customers will only see the rate credits if the state Supreme Court rules in favor of the state regulatory commission.
Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of New Energy Economy and one of PNM’s more vocal critics, expressed disappointment with Tuesday’s decision.
After a year that included a southern New Mexico county commission refusing to certify a primary election, misinformation about New Mexico’s election security and how it has affected voter turnout, the Secretary of State’s Office and county clerks are ready for Election Day next week. “(The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office) is feeling good about it, no reports of anything bad happening as far as we know,” New Mexico Secretary of State spokesman Alex Curtas said. “It seems people are voting easily and without disruption we’re getting pretty good turnout numbers… I wouldn’t be surprised if we got upwards of 60 percent for total turnout when all is said and done.”
On election night on Nov. 8, votes will be counted after the polls close at 7 p.m.
These include the absentee ballots which begin being processed (separated from the envelopes and shuffled to preserve voter anonymity) prior to election night. The absentee ballots are not run through machines until after polls close on Nov.
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.