Voters in New Mexico are removing sitting members from the legislature, which has positive implications for paid family leave

Voters in New Mexico are removing sitting members from the legislature, which has positive implications for paid family leave


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters in New Mexico ousted several sitting lawmakers in the state’s primary as ballots were counted Wednesday.

Former school board member and educator Jon Hill of Las Cruces defeated state Rep. Willie Madrid of Chapparal in Tuesday’s primary election. Hill campaigned in support of environmental and progressive initiatives — including the need for paid family leave legislation after a bill failed on a 34-36 vote in the state House this year, with several Democrats, including Madrid, voting against it. The district borders Texas and crosses the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Uncertified election results also show Anita Gonzales of Las Vegas, New Mexico, clinching the Democratic nomination for a rural district that unites far-flung communities from Moriarty to Pecos. She defeated two-term state Rep. Ambrose Castellano of Serafina, an opponent of paid family leave legislation. Nearly 70% of county residents identify themselves as Latino.

More than two dozen incumbents had challengers in the primaries, under a closed system that limits participation to voters who register with major parties, leaving out minor party voters or unaffiliated voters, but not libertarians.

In House District 69, incumbent Democratic Rep. Harry Garcia of Grants, a social conservative on abortion issues and gun rights supporter, lost his bid for a fifth term. Attorney Michelle “Paulene” Abeyta of To’hajiilee of the Navajo Nation won the nomination for a district where two-thirds of registered voters identify as Native American. Abeyta has no Republican competition in the general election.

In Senate District 13, incumbent state Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque was competing for the Democratic nomination in a heavily redrawn district against another veteran politician: Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley. That district includes downtown Albuquerque.

Tuesday’s primaries included the first Senate elections since 2021 redistricting and impacted Native American communities, the state’s oil industry and the #MeToo movement.

Native American candidates made strides toward greater legislative representation with victories in two closely watched Democratic primaries. Prosecutors fended off primary challengers in crime-weary Albuquerque, as well as in Santa Fe, where special prosecutors are preparing to put Alec Baldwin on trial in July on involuntary manslaughter charges.

And two Republicans who fueled Donald Trump’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election won GOP nominations for Senate, advancing to a competitive general election.

Democratic voters in Albuquerque County ousted Secretary of State Daniel Ivey-Soto in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and bullying that he disputed.

He was defeated by progressive challenger Heather Berghmans, who will face GOP contender Craig Degenhardt in November. The district extends from the intersection of Interstates 25 and 40 toward the northeastern heights of the city.

In House District 62, three Republicans from Hobbs are vying to succeed state Rep. Larry Scott without competition from Democrats: Elaine Sena Cortez, Debra Hicks and attorney D’Nae Robinett Mills. Scott won the decisive Republican nomination for a Senate district at the heart of southeastern New Mexico’s oil economy, defeating recently appointed state Sen. Steve McCutcheon of Carlsbad.

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