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N.M. midterms bring democratic victories, high voter turnout

Left to right: Newly elected congresswoman Deb Haaland, D-NM 1st District, and Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham. The 2018 midterm elections saw many women elected, particularly into the House. New Mexico was a part of that trend. (Courtesy photos)

Special Election Coverage: Midterms 2018

New Mexico was painted blue in several key elections decided by the midterm 2018 ballot. Democrats won a U.S. senate seat, governorship, and two of the three U.S. Representative seats by significant margins.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham was elected governor, defeating NMSU alumnus and Republican Steve Pearce. Lujan Grisham will replace Republican Susana Martinez. Lujan Grisham won by almost 14 points to become the first Democrat to hold the office since 2011.

Democrat Debra Haaland’s victory in New Mexico’s first congressional district made history. Haaland and Sharice Davids of Kansas have become the first Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress.

The hotly contested race for New Mexico’s second house district — which comprises southern New Mexico, including Doña Ana County — has not been called yet. As it stands, Republican Yvette Herrell holds a 1 percent lead — roughly 2,000 votes — over Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, with several thousand absentee ballots yet to be reported.

Democrat Micaela Lara Cadena beat Republican candidate Charles “Chuck” Wendler in the state District 33 race. District 33 encompasses the NMSU campus. This seat was previously held by NMSU alumnus Bill McCamley.

Several bond measures passed yesterday including General Obligation bonds B and D, which were supported by NMSU administrators. GO Bond B allots over $610,000 to libraries on the NMSU Las Cruces campus and at local community colleges. GO Bond D promises over $31 million dollars to NMSU for renovation of facilities, with a particular focus on the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Bonds A and C passed as well. These bond measures are dedicated to senior citizen facilities improvements and the acquisition of school buses respectively.

This year’s midterm elections saw a steep increase in voter turnout in New Mexico and in many others states across the nation compared to the 2014 midterms. Four years ago, roughly 40 percent of eligible voters in New Mexico cast their ballots. This year, 54 percent of eligible New Mexico voters turned out to the polls. Doña Ana County fell below this year’s statewide average, reporting only 44 percent turnout, but showed an increase of over 10,000 voters from 2014.

Next door in Texas, El Paso native Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for a U.S. Senate seat gained massive national attention. While O’Rourke was unable to flip Texas blue, he came close, earning 48.3 percent of the votes to incumbent Ted Cruz’s 50.9 percent.

The GOP’s Senate victory in Texas was far from its only one. The Republicans maintained majority control of the U.S. Senate and actually gained three or more Senate seats. In the House, however, Democrats gained the majority. This change marks a new chapter in the Trump era, in which Democrats have more power to challenge or push legislation.

NMSU is set to host a public debate Nov. 14 titled “Mid-term elections in the US: Interpreting the Results.”  According to information published on the NMSU News Center website, the debate will “focus on analyzing voter participation in the mid-term elections; the implications of the results for women’s participation in government; and how the legislative and executive branches of government will interact with new participants.”

The event is free and will be held Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 4-5 p.m. in Breland Hall, Room 333.

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