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Democrats prevail in county races, lose U.S. House seat

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Editor’s note: These results are based on unofficial returns from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.

Democrat Ben Ray Lujan won the state’s open U.S. Senate seat. But, in a rematch with former state legislator Yvette Herrell, an Alamogordo Republican, Democrat U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of Las Cruces lost the U.S. House seat she won two years ago.

In local legislative races, Republican Crystal Diamond of Elephant Butte won the New Mexico State Senate District 35 seat that includes parts of Luna, Hidalgo, Sierra and Doña Ana counties. Democrat Noemi O. Martinez-Parra of Lordsburg defeated incumbent John Arthur Smith of Deming in the June primary, but lost to Diamond 58 percent-42 percent in the general. Martinez-Parra won in Doña Ana County, but Diamond won the other three counties. The seat has been represented by a Democrat from Deming for at least the last 64 years.

Incumbent Democrats Joseph Cervantes (District 31), Jeff Steinborn (District 36) and Bill Soules (District 37) were all re-elected. Democrat Carrie Hamblen received 62 percent of the vote in the District 38 state Senate race, defeating Republican Charles Wendler. Hamblen defeated state Senate President Pro-Tem Mary Kay Papen in the June primary. All the winners are from Las Cruces. Incumbent Republican Ron Griggs of Alamogordo won the state Senate race in District 34, which includes two precincts in Doña Ana County.

On the House side, Republican Luis Terrazas of Silver City defeated incumbent Democrat Rudy Martinez, also of Silver City, in District 39, which includes parts of Grant, Sierra and Doña Ana counties.

Republican Ricky Little was ahead of incumbent Democrat Willie Madrid in the state House District 53 race by seven votes out of more than 6,500 cast in the race, which likely will trigger an automatic recount under state law. The district includes parts of Doña Ana and Otero counties. Madrid defeated Little two years ago to win the seat. Little had defeated Madrid in 2016. Little has held the District 53 seat 2011-12 and 2015-18. Little and Madrid are both from Chaparral.

In a news release issued shortly before midnight Nov. 3, the Doña Ana County Clerk’s office said there were still about 1,200 absentee ballots to be counted Wednesday morning, Nov. 4., along with “a small number of Election Day write-in tabulation and hand tallying.” If any outstanding ballots were cast in the House District 53 race, it could impact the results.

Democratic incumbent House members Micaela Lara Cadena (District 33), Ray Lara (District 34), Angelica Rubio (District 35), Nathan Small (District 36), Joanne Ferrary (District 37) and Doreen Gallegos (District 51) were re-elected. Cadena is from Mesilla, Lara is from La Mesa and the others are from Las Cruces.

In county races, incumbent Democrat Amanda Lopez Askin was elected to her first full term as county clerk and incumbent Democrat Eric Rodriguez won a second four-year term as county treasurer. Democrats won all three county commission races on the ballot. Anthony Mayor Diana Murillo-Trujillo was unopposed in District 2. She defeated incumbent Ramon Gonzalez in the June primary. Former county magistrate judge Susana Chaparro defeated a Republican and a Libertarian to win the District 4 commission seat currently held by Republican Isabella Solis. Solis ran unsuccessfully for state House District 37  instead of running for re-election to the commission. Incumbent Manuel Sanchez won the District 5 commission race.

The county also elected Democrat Gerald Byers as the new district attorney and Richard Jacquez as a new district judge. Both were unopposed in the general. The county’s eight incumbent district judges all received more than the 57 percent voter approval needed to stay on the bench.

Democrats won both races for state Supreme Court and the three races for state Court of Appeals. Incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Jacqueline R. Medina was retained by voters.

Voters passed both proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. One would change the state Public Regulation Commission from a five-member elected body to a three-member governor-appointed body. The other would adjust the terms of some elected offices in the state to balance terms between presidential and non-presidential years.

Voters also passed all three statewide bond issues on the ballot.

The unofficial results show a record turnout in New Mexico, with 912,565 of 1,351,811 eligible voters – 67.507 percent – casting ballots in the general election. In Doña Ana County, the secretary of state’s office said 81,815 of 128,777 eligible voters – 63.53 percent – voted early or on Election Day.