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Daughter of GOP Senate veteran hopes to flip seat in New Mexico

Your guide to the 2024 elections


Daughter of GOP Senate veteran hopes to flip seat in New Mexico

STATE STATS

Voter makeup: Roughly 1.3 million voters were registered in New Mexico as of the end of last month, according to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. That’s more than half of the state’s roughly 2.1 million residents. About 580,000 are registered as Democrats, while Republicans number about 416,000. Around 314,000 voters have registered as independents.

The number of registered Republicans jumped after the 2020 election. It had remained roughly static across 2017, 2018, and 2019, but it increased from about 392,000 in 2020 to 418,000 in 2021.

Voting: New Mexico allows voters to mail in their ballot if they apply to do so beforehand, according to the secretary of state’s office. Mailed ballots are counted until 7 p.m. on Election Day. State law allows residents to register to vote on Election Day. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, signed the Voting Rights Act in 2023, requiring each county to have two secure ballot drop boxes.

PRESIDENTIAL

President Joe Biden won New Mexico’s Democratic presidential primary on June 4 with roughly 84 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office. Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson received 7 percent, while roughly 10 percent of votes went to other candidates. Former President Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary with 84 percent of the vote. Former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley received 9 percent. But turnout was low this year. Roughly 130,000 voters participated in the Democratic primary, whereas only slightly more than 90,000 voted in the Republican primary.

New Mexico has five Electoral College votes. A Republican has not won the presidential contest in the state since George W. Bush in 2004. Biden won New Mexico by roughly 100,000 votes in 2020.

SENATE

  • Incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich worked in the technology and engineering fields before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013. He has held his Senate seat since 2014. Heinrich says he wants to boost the clean energy economy in New Mexico and fight for the rights of the state’s Native American tribes. In 2014, he traveled to a remote island for Rival Survival, a Discovery Channel show to see if he could survive with a member of the opposite party, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. Both men said they wanted to prove bipartisanship is possible. In 2017, he co-introduced legislation to update voting machines across the country, and in 2019, he co-founded the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus.

  • Republican candidate Nella Louise Domenici is a mother of two and stepmother of four and married to a U.S. Navy veteran. She has the National Republican Senate Committee’s backing and a well-known name. Domenici’s father, Pete, served six terms in the U.S. Senate representing New Mexico. Her background is in finance. She has worked with some of the world’s leading hedge funds and banks. She says she wants to work toward improving the state’s economy, reducing crime, and closing the border.

U.S. HOUSE

New Mexico has three U.S. House seats, but only one is expected to be a toss-up this year.

  • Incumbent Democrat Melanie Ann Stansbury will defend her 1st District seat against Republican Steve Jones. Jones is a former U.S. Army medic, certified public accountant, and business and accounting professor. Stansbury served in the New Mexico House of Representatives before joining the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021.

  • Republicans hope to reclaim the 2nd District, which has flipped parties in every election since 2018. Democrat Gabriel Vasquez won the seat in 2022 by only 1,000 votes. He was formerly a city councilor in Las Cruces. Vasquez frequently campaigns on border policy. He signed a resolution earlier this year calling out Republicans for not working on bipartisan solutions. He faced a challenge from Republican Yvette Herrell, 60, who held the seat before him. The Democratic National Committee announced on June 11 that it will spend $70,000 to organize staff for Vasquez. Herrell has called herself a pro-life Christian but she said she would not support a national law protecting babies from abortion. She supports exceptions to abortion laws for rape and incest, as well as the life of the mother.

  • In the 3rd District, typically considered a Democratic stronghold, Republican Sharon Clahchischilliage will face off against incumbent Teresa Leger Fernandez, 64. Clahchischilliage, a member of the Navajo Nation, has served in the U.S. Public Health Service and worked as a special education teacher. She also served in the state House for three terms. Fernandez’s district includes several Navajo Nation and Pueblo reservations. She has sponsored legislation boosting tribal sovereignty and universal healthcare. She won the seat by 17 percent in 2020 and 16 percent in 2022.

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS

  • The New Mexico Supreme Court has five justices, all of whom are currently registered as Democrats. Only Justice Briana H. Zamora, 49, is up for reelection this year after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed her in 2021. She must win 57 percent of the vote in a retention election that will decide whether she can retain her seat on the bench, according to the New Mexico Constitution.

BALLOT MEASURES

The state has eight ballot initiatives slated to appear before the voters in November, four of which are constitutional amendments.

  • The County Officer’s Salary Amendment prevents county officials from receiving any official fees or payments for their own use and it requires that all fees paid to county officials go into the county treasury.

  • The Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption Amendment would change tax rules for veterans in the state depending on their level of disability status.

  • The Increase Veteran Property Tax Exemption Amendment would raise the veterans’ property tax exemption from $4,000 to $10,000 and adjust the amount annually for inflation.

  • The Judicial Nominating Commission Amendment would allow the dean of the University of New Mexico Law School to designate a nominee and for that designee to serve as the chair of the judicial nomination commission.

  • There are also three bond issues related to public education, libraries, public safety radio communications, and facilities for senior citizens.

Dig deeper:

  • Read Carolina Lumetta’s report about Gov. Lujan Grisham’s emergency ban on carrying weapons openly in public.

  • Read Clara York’s report digging deeper into the legal challenges to the ban.

Visit the WORLD Election Center 2024 to follow our state-by-state coverage between now and November.


Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.


This keeps me from having to slog through digital miles of other news sites. —Nick

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