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Incumbent state Rep. Willie Madrid, a Democrat, is the apparent winner in the race for the District 53 seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives – but there could be a recount. The district includes 11 precincts in Doña Ana County and 10 precincts in Otero County.
Madrid, who won the seat in 2018, had a 33-vote lead over his Republican challenger, Ricky Little. Both are from Chaparral.
According to unofficial returns from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office, Madrid won the race 3,360-3,327. He won 2,149-2,131 in Doña Ana County and 1,211-1,196 in Otero County.
To qualify for an automatic recount under state law in a local or district race, the vote margin between candidates must be within one percent of the total votes cast.
Little held the District 53 seat 2011-12 and 2015-18. In 2016, he defeated Madrid by 137 votes. In 2018, Madrid won their first rematch by 291 votes: 2,425-2,134.
The District 53 seat was held by Republican Terry Marquardt for 12 years and also by Democrat Nathan Cote.
With Madrid’s win, only one incumbent who represents Doña Ana County in the New Mexico House lost a re-election bid. Rudy Martinez, a Silver City Democrat, lost to Republican Luis Terrazas, also of Silver City, in the District 39 race. The district includes parts of Grant, Sierra and Doña Ana counties.
Terrazas received 5,953 votes to 5,330 for Martinez, winning 53-47 percent. Terrazas won Grant County 2,413-2,065, Sierra County 390-283 and Doña Ana County 3,150-2,982.
Martinez first won the seat in 2006, lost it in 2014 to Republican John Zimmerman of Las Cruces and then defeated Zimmerman to win the seat back in 2016. Martinez defeated former state Sen. Lee Cotter, a Las Cruces Republican, in 2018.
The other members of the county delegation in the New Mexico House are Democrats Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla (District 33), who was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote; Ray Lara of La Mesa (District 34), 66 percent; Angelica Rubio (District 35), 61 percent; Nathan Small (District 36), 54 percent; Joanne Ferrary (District 37), 54 percent; and Doreen Gallegos (District 51), 65 percent. Rubio, Small, Ferrary and Gallegos are from Las Cruces. Gallegos, the majority whip in the House, was elected in 2012. Cadena, Lara, Rubio, Small and Ferrary were elected in 2016. Their districts are all located entirely in Doña Ana County.
On the state Senate side, incumbents won in four races in districts that represent Doña Ana County, while one Republican and one Democrat won in open races to replace Democrats who lost in the June primary.
In District 31, Democrat Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces was re-elected with 66 percent of the vote. Cervantes won the seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. He served 2001-12 in the New Mexico House and also is a former Doña Ana County commissioner.
In District 34 (Otero, Eddy and Doña Ana counties), Republican Ron Griggs of Alamogordo was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote. Griggs won the seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. He is the former mayor of Alamogordo.
In District 35, Republican Crystal Diamond of Elephant Butte defeated Democrat Noemi O. Martinez-Parra of Lordsburg, 58-42 percent. Martinez-Parra defeated incumbent John Arthur Smith of Deming in the primary. Smith has held the seat for 32 years and is chair of the Senate Finance Committee. District 35 includes parts of Luna, Hidalgo, Sierra and Doña Ana counties.
In District 36, Democrat Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote. Steinborn won the seat in 2016, defeating incumbent Republican Lee Cotter. Steinborn served in the New Mexico House 2007-10 and 2013-16.
In District 37, Democrat Bill Soules of Las Cruces was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote. Soules, who is chair of the Senate Education Committee and is a former member of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education, won the seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.
In District 38, Democrat Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces defeated Republican Charles Wendler 62 percent-38 percent. Hamblen defeated incumbent Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces in the primary. Papen has held the seat for 20 years and is state Senate president pro-tem.
Senate districts 31, 36, 37 and 38 are located entirely in Doña Ana County.
Democrats currently have the majority in the state Senate, 26-16 and in the state House, 46-24, and will maintain solid majorities in both houses as a result of this year’s election. The Senate is like to have 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans, while the House could be comprised of 44 Democrats, 25 Republicans and one independent. The legislature meets for a 60-day session beginning Jan. 19, 2021.
The voter turnout in New Mexico was a record 68.16 percent in 2020, as 921,375 of 1,351,811 registered voters cast ballots early or on election day. The turnout was 55.61 percent in 2018, 62.36 percent in 2016 and 40.35 percent in 2014.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said She the post-election vote-canvassing process extends a couple of weeks beyond election day and includes any hand-counted absentee ballots, write-in votes and qualified provisional ballots, and insures that the total number of ballots equals the number of ballots cast by all voters as well as spoiled and rejected ballots.