By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
It was a great primary for women in New Mexico, as they claimed nominations in statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, land commissioner, and for two of the state’s U.S. House of Representatives seats. Closer to Las Cruces, Democrats nominated a woman for Doña Ana County sheriff and turned out one incumbent state representative.
Las Cruces water lawyer Xochitl Torres Small received 25,220 votes (72.61 percent) in unofficial returns from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office to win the Democratic primary for the U.S. House District 2 seat against adjunct college professor Madelyn Hildebrant of Socorro.
Torres Small will face state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Otero, who collected 15,868 (49 percent) in to win the Republican primary. She defeated former Hobbs Mayor Monte Newman (32 percent) and two other challengers.
Whichever candidate wins in November will be the first woman to hold the seat. Torres Small would be the first person from Las Cruces to hold it since Ed Foreman, a Republican, who won the seat when it was created in 1968. He lost two years later. If Herrell wins, she will be the first person from Otero County ever to represent the district.
Incumbent Republican Steve Pearce of Hobbs is giving the seat up to run for governor. He had no opponent in the June 5 Republican primary.
Pearce’s opponent in the governor race will be U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham of Albuquerque, who collected 116,311 votes (66.4 percent) to 38,779 (22.14) for Albuquerque businessman Jeff Apodaca and 20,092 (11.47 percent) for state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
According to unofficial returns, Lujan-Grisham won 32 of the state’s 33 counties. Apodaca won Guadalupe County by three votes.
Bob Walsh, a write-in candidate, won the Libertarian nomination for governor.
State Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor with 47 percent of the vote. Former State Rep. Rick Miera of Albuquerque received 32 percent and Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett collected 21 percent. Morales will face Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes and Libertarian Robin Dunn in the November general election. Both were unopposed in their primaries.
In the Democratic primary for land commissioner, NM Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard of White Rock received 40 percent of the vote to defeat New Mexico Wildlife Federation Executive Director Garrett VeneKlasen (37 percent) and state Sen. George Muñoz of Gallup (23 percent). Current state Public Regulation (PRC) commissioner and former land commissioner Patrick Lyons had no opponent in the Republican primary and Michael G. Lucero had no opponent in the Libertarian primary. Incumbent Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, elected as a Republican, switched parties to Libertarian and is running for the U.S. Senate.
In the Democratic primary for state auditor, former state party chair Brian Colon of Albuquerque defeated State Rep. Bill McCamley of Las Cruces with 63 percent of the vote. Colon will face Republican Wayne Johnson in November. Johnson was appointed state auditor last November when Tim Keller was elected mayor of Albuquerque.
Former state senator Steve Fischmann of Las Cruces won the Democratic primary for PRC district 5, which includes Doña Ana County. He defeated incumbent Sandy Jones of Truth or Consequences 52.3 to 47.6 percent. Fischmann will face former PRC Commissioner Ben Hall of Ruidoso in November. Hall won the Republican primary by 30 votes over Chris Mathys of Las Cruces. Joseph Bizzell of Los Lunas was third, who got 28 percent of the total votes.
In locally contested primaries, former Doña Ana County internal affairs investigator Kim Stewart got 31.7 percent of the vote to win the Democratic nomination for county sheriff. Former undersheriff Eddie Lerma was second with 28 percent. Incumbent Enrique “Kiki” Vigil finished third with 26 percent. Carlos Preciado got eight percent and Larry Roybal got six percent. In November, Stewart will face Republican Todd Garrison, who previously served 10 years as sheriff. Garrison had no primary opposition.
In the race for county assessor, former County Commissioner Leticia Duarte-Benavidez received almost 53 percent of the vote to defeat current chief deputy Paul Ponce. Incumbent Andy Segovia is term limited.
In the county commission district one race, former county clerk Lynn Ellins got 37 percent of the vote to defeat four challengers. In November, Ellins will face John L. Zimmerman, a former state representative, who defeated Roberto Martinez 81-19 percent in the Republican primary. Incumbent Commissioner Billy Garrett is term limited.
In the district 5 county commission Democratic primary, Karen Trujillo got almost 54 percent of the vote to defeat former commissioner Oscar Butler and two others. In November, she will face Republican Kim Hakes, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year when Democrat John Vasquez resigned.
Micaela Lara Cadena won the state House of Representatives District 33 Democratic primary with almost 54 percent of the vote. Mary Martinez White received 25.5 percent and Guenevere McMahon received 21 percent. Charles Wendler had no opponent in the Republican primary.
In the District 34 state House Democratic primary, Raymundo Lara of Anthony, New Mexico received 51.5 percent of the vote to oust incumbent Bill Gomez. Gomez won the seat in 2014, defeating Mary Helen Garcia, who held the seat for 18 years. Lara will have no Republican opponent in November.
In House District 52, incumbent Doreen Gallegos, who is Democratic whip in the New Mexico House of Representatives, received 79 percent of the vote against Jaime Gonzalez Castillo. Gallegos will face Republican David Cheek in November.
In House District 53, Willie Madrid received 69 percent of the vote to defeat Javier Gonzales in the Democratic primary. Madrid will face Republican incumbent Rick Little in the general. Little defeated Madrid by about 200 votes two years ago. Both are from Chaparral, New Mexico.
In the Democratic primary for Third Judicial District judge, Division 8, Las Cruces attorney Grace Duran received 38 percent of the vote to win. Current Magistrate Judge Richard Jacquez was second with 24.3 percent, Dania Gardea received 15.5 percent, incumbent Jeanne H. Quintero got 11.3 percent and Isabel Jerabek received almost 11 percent.
Mike Cook may be reached at email@example.com.