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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, New Mexico House » GOP falls short of goal to take state House

GOP falls short of goal to take state House

A look at election returns appears to show Republicans failed in their effort to take control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in decades — and indeed lost ground.

Despite a massive amount of money and a coordinated effort by a PAC run by Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey, Republicans could take just one Democratic-held seat and lost three seats held by Republicans. The seat held by Independent Andy Nunez, I-Hatch, who had sided with Republicans on some key issues, also went to a Democrat.

The count, for now, is 39 Democrats and 31 Republicans. For all the talk of multiple automatic recounts, it appears there will potentially be only one recount.

The potential recount is in the House District 37 race, where Terry McMillian, R-Las Cruces, defeated Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, 6,207 to 6,195 Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, leads Terry McMillan by the slightest of margins. This is within the one-half-of-one-percent trigger.

The House District 23 race between Paul Pacheco and Marci Blaze was the second closest race this year. Pacheco finished with a lead of just 69 votes — or .507 percent. So it appears, for now, that Republicans will hold this seat as well. If one vote had been different, it would have been under the threshold and triggered the automatic recount.

With potential provisional ballots out, it cannot be certain whether or not there will be a recount.

Automatic recounts must begin “within five days of the completion of the state canvass.” According to New Mexico Law, the state canvassing board will meet “the third Tuesday after each election” — so the need for a recount in this election would not be formally known for several weeks.

The three-way race in House District 36 was one of the most-watched races in the state. Nunez bucked the Democratic Party on many votes when he was a Democrat. His battles with Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, led Nunez to leave the Democratic Party and become an independent, or decline-to-state, legislator. However, without the party structure to help him, he ended up in third in the three-way race with Democrat Phillip Archuleta, D-Las Cruces, winning a plurality of voters over Mike Tellez, R-Las Cruces, and Nunez. Archuleta won with 42.4 percent of vote to Tellez’s 36.8 percent. Nunez could manage just 20.8 percent of the vote.

Other changes included Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, taking out incumbent James Hall, R-Los Alamos, in the House District 44 race. Hall was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez to the position after the death of Jeanette Wallace. Garcia Richard narrowly lost to Wallace in 2010. Garcia Richard won 51.12 percent to 48.88 percent for Hall.

A race that could be the big upset of the night was Stephanie Thomson, D-Albuquerque, beating incumbent Conrad James, R-Albuquerque. James is considered a rising star in the Republican Party but could not survive in a district that was made more competitive in redistricting. On KNME’s elections how, former state Rep. Dan Foley said that James asked for his district to be made more competitive to shore up chances in other areas.

James ended up losing 50.94 percent to 49.06 percent.

In southern New Mexico, Nate Cote, D-Las Cruces, defeated incumbent Rick Little, R-Chaparral. The race was one where long lines in Chaparral and accusations that Little did not actually reside in the district. Cote won 53.53 percent to 46.47 percent.

The lone Republican win came by defeating embattled Democratic state Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, lost to Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland. Begaye’s candidacy was likely sunk by revelations that he charged both the state and the National Conference of State Legislators for a trip tan NCSL conference and that he used official state stationary to plead for lenience in a DWI case for his daughter. Begaye has not spoken to the media since the reports by KOB.

Clahchischilliage ended up winning 61.5 percent to 38.5 percent.

All these numbers are unofficial until the canvass, though the Secretary of State’s website says all precincts are reporting.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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3 Responses to "GOP falls short of goal to take state House"

  1. Todd Dickson says:

    The numbers for District 37 are backwards: Democratic challenger Joanne Ferrary has a 12-vote lead over incumbent Rep. Terry McMillan

    1. Thank you, I updated the story.

  2. Don Malcolm says:

    Matthew, an unrelated question that I’m wondering if you might have the answer. The Pew Research paper on Hispanic voters which indicated that those that are third-generation or higher are less inclined to want bigger government/bigger services…do you have any voting data that tracks the way this sub-group tends to vote in Presidential elections? Given that there is no other state with nearly as high a percentage of Hispanic voters, it would be interesting to see voting behavior data by immigrant generation…hoping you might be able to help. Thanks, and keep up the good work.