New Mexico’s House District 21 will have a new Representative next January after high school teacher Debbie Sariñana won the primary election on Tuesday night. Sariñana won the race, by about five percentage points, against incumbent Idalia Lechuga-Tena and a third candidate, Amanda KinKaid in the Democratic primary. Sariñana told NM Political Report that she was excited about the win and said she credited her win to a good group of campaign staff. “It was a tough race,” Sariñana said. “We worked hard, we had great volunteers.”
Sariñana was aided by her fellow teachers in the race, including with union members canvassing for her and helping to get out the vote.
While Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico began casting ballots weeks ago with early and absentee voting, today is election day where tens of thousands more are expected to cast their ballots. While much of the attention will be focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duking it out in the presidential primary, there will be a number of down-ballot races with big implications going forward. We took a look at the thirteen races you need to watch tonight when polls close at 7:00 p.m.
Senate District 17
Democratic incumbent Sen. Mimi Stewart’s runs to retain the senate seat in SD17. In 2014, the Bernalillo County Commission appointed her to fill the vacancy left by Tim Keller when he became State Auditor. Former State Senator Shannon Robinson, who held the SD17 spot for 20 years before losing to Keller in 2008, will face Stewart and try to reclaim his old Senate seat.
One of Albuquerque’s most diverse legislative districts has seen three different representatives in the past two years. Now voters in House District 21 have three choices in the upcoming Democratic primary. No Republicans are running in the race, which means the winner of the June primary will almost certainly be the next representative from the district. Note: This piece also appeared in the May 18 edition of the ABQ Free Press. The game of musical chairs began when Tim Keller, then a state Senator, ran for State Auditor.
A look into one New Mexico House race shows that the candidates updated their voter registration days before an appointment to the state House late last year. All three candidates currently running for state House District 21 previously applied to be appointed in the district. And all three changed their voter registration information days before Bernalillo County commissioners voted on the appointment. The appointment was necessary after Stephanie Maez resigned. All three candidates are Democrats; there are no Republican candidates seeking the position.
Bernalillo County Commissioners will decide who will replace Stephanie Maez in House District 21. The commission is expected to make a decision Tuesday night, according to the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting. Maez resigned from the position in October. Bernalillo County provided NM Political Report with the six applications for the position. Update: The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint Lechuga-Tena during Tuesday night’s meeting. Idalia Lechuga-Tena could be the most high profile, and controversial, of those seeking the position.