Midterm primary elections saw notable wins for progressive candidates, expanded use of Same Day Registration, and more awful, no-good mainstreaming of far-right ideologies into Republican politics. Let’s break it down.
Progressives in NMLeg & NMpol
With NM House elections and Congressional District 2 in play this primary, we saw the gambit of conservative Democrats, oil and gas interests, and Republicans funding candidates in an attempt to gain back seats from a more progressive NM Legislature. These are the candidates who were running with conservative campaign contributions
Joseph L. Sanchez
. . . and the outcomes of these races.
Eleanor Chavez beat Cherise Quezada in HD26.
Tara Jaramillo beat Ravi Bhasker in HD38.
Susan K. Herrera defeated Marlo Martinez for HD41.
Kristina Ortez defeated Florence Miera for HD42.
Andrea D. Romero handily defeated both Henry Roybal and Ryan K. Salazar in HD46.
X Cynthia Borrego beat progressive candidate Darrell Deaguero for HD17.
X Joseph L. Sanchez beat incumbent Roger E. Montoya in HD40.
X Ambrose Castellano very narrowly beat progressive candidate Anita Gonzales in HD70.
Out with Herrell – In with Vasquez in CD2
And we cannot understate how awesome it is to have Gabe Vasquez winning the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary. He is well-positioned to be competitive against incumbent Trump Republican (who did NOT vote to certify the 2020 presidential election results) Yvette Herrell. After redistricting, CD2 now includes parts of Albuquerque. Change may be coming for CD2 and a full Democratic sweep in the Congressional delegation.
Turnout By the Numbers
Midterms, and especially midterm primaries, don’t historically turn out as many voters as presidential election years. That was true for 2022, with 25.49% of voters casting ballots in the primary as compared to 42.01% in the 2020 primary (apples to oranges) and 27.59% in 2018’s primary (apples to apples). We cannot stress enough how critical midterms and down ballot races are and hope to see an increase in voter engagement in November.
Thanks so much for voting and getting your friends and family to vote! As we saw in many of the close races, every vote counts.
Same Day Registration
Same day registration (SDR) was the star of this year’s election turnout. More than 10,000 people took advantage of the ability to register for the first time, update registration info, or change from Independent or minor party affiliation to a major party. It’s not an open primary, but it’s obviously a big hit to have that flexibility to register at early voting and election day voting sites.
More voting access provisions like SDR were part of the ‘22 Voting Rights Act last legislative session. A Republican filibuster by champion blatherer Senator Bill Sharer ultimately ran out the clock, leaving Native American, rural voters, returning citizens, and many others without improved election access. Republicans really shot themselves in the foot because the popularity of Same Day Registration, regardless of political leanings, shows that making voting accessible to more eligible voters is good for democracy. Ironically, 5,225 registered Republicans used SDR this year as compared to 4,521 Democrats.
Big Lie, Far Right & Other Superlatives: Ronchetti for Governor
Despite not getting enough votes at the NM GOP nominating convention earlier this year, Mark Ronchetti was the runaway winner of the Republican primary race for Governor. Remember. he had little support at the convention but made it on the ballot due to his extensive gathering of signatures.
Perhaps because he was on the local news giving the weather report for years and has name recognition, and perhaps because he doesn’t seem to really believe in anything that Republican voters could project onto his blank slate persona–who knows? Ronchetti blew out his competition, getting more votes than all his competitors combined.
The field was riddled with all types of GOP ghouls: forced pregnancy advocate Ethel Maharg along with Jay Block, Greg Zanetti, and Rebecca Dow all of whom subscribe to Big Lie election rhetoric for real or political gain–the result is the same. They propagate far-right propaganda and seek to disenfranchise New Mexicans–because otherwise they will continue to lose.
If we hadn’t had enough of Dow horseback riding with Trump Sheriffs in her primary political ads to appeal to xenophobic, anti-immigrant sentiment or Ronchetti’s border “law and order” tough talk–get ready for a Ronchetti to try to win the votes of Republicans who didn’t vote for him this go-round. He’s already refused to disavow far-right groups namely the Three Percenters, Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers perhaps in an effort to win them (and their sympathizers) over. Ronchetti either pretended to not know who they are (a lie) or truly didn’t (which shows a total lack of knowledge of the current political landscape).
Either way, this dishonesty or political ignorance is unsurprising for Ronchetti, a candidate with a Trumpian resume of
❌ Zero public service
❌ Lots of time on TV
❌ A love of expensive real estate
❌ A starring role in a reality show
❌ Oh, and he doesn’t seem to believe in anything, really. That also tracks.
The Big Lie Persists in NM Politics
NM is a leader in running successful, secure elections and the primary held to this high standard. Despite this, the far-right, Big Lie groups, egged on by convicted Jan. 6th insurrectionist Couy Griffin and the Clements down in Otero County, are still pushing their baseless claims questioning the integrity of the election.
Last week, the Otero County Commission refused to certify the primary election results even as the Friday, June 17 deadline approached. The commission regurgitated the same baseless claims and allowed the Republican county clerk Robyn Homes, the only person there with actual election administration expertise, to be berated and bullied. The video stream of Monday’s commission meeting had Commissioner Vickie Marquardt joking about being sent to the “pokey,” an Old West folksy term for jail, for refusing to certify.
Jail Time was No Joke
The Big Lie bluster continued late last week. Commissioner Griffin traveled to D.C. for the sentencing hearing for his role in the Jan. 6th attempted coup, and the Otero County Commission faced being held in contempt for failing to certify the election, defying state law and an order from NM Supreme Court.
By Thursday, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver referred the Otero County Commission to Attorney General Hector Balderas for an investigation into potential civic and criminal violations.
Couy Feelings, Nothing But Feelings
In the end, facing legal trouble, the Otero Co. commission called an emergency hearing and voted 2-1 to certify the primary election results. Ever the conspiracist and basing his vote on his “feeling,” rather than evidence, Griffin voted against. He was no doubt *feeling* brave after his slap on the wrist Capitol Insurrection sentencing and saved face with the assured protection provided by the yea votes of the other two commissioners. He still got to *feel* like a badass by voting no without being subject to more legal trouble Yeehah!
So that’s the wrap up. On to the general election!