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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico voters will be choosing a lot more than a governor this November. They will also be electing a new attorney general and deciding whether Democrats will retain control of the state U.S. Senate seats and the statehouse. Here are five things to know about the midterm elections:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is seeking his second term, and with a sizeable campaign fund, he’s favored for an easy re-election. But Republican Allen Weh is putting up some of his personal fortune to launch an aggressive challenge. Udall is a popular former attorney general and congressman. Weh, a longtime Albuquerque businessman, is a former state Republican Party chairman and a retired Marine colonel who came in second behind Gov. Susana Martinez in the governor’s primary four years ago.
State auditor Hector Balderas, considered a rising star in the state Democratic Party, holds a more than 20-to-1 campaign cash advantage over Republican Susan Riedel in the race for attorney general. Balderas has stockpiled more money than any other statewide office candidates, except for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Balderas and Riedel are seeking the post being vacated by Gary King, who is attempting to unseat Martinez. Riedel is a former prosecutor and judge from Las Cruces.
All three incumbents for New Mexico’s congressional seats are running for re-election. In the 1st Congressional District that covers most of Albuquerque, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is being challenged in her bid for a second term by Republican Mike Frese, a 66-year-old scientist and small business owner from Corrales. For the 2nd Congressional District seat, Democratic three-term incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is being challenged for a second time by Republican Jefferson Byrd of Tucumcari. In southern New Mexico, the national Democratic Congressional Committee is working to help Carlsbad lawyer Democratic attorney Roxanne “Rocky” Laura in her bid to unseat 3rd District Rep. Steve Pearce, who held the seat from 2003 to 2009, and most recently since 2011.
All 70 House seats are up for election this year. Twenty-five incumbents are unopposed. Republicans are eyeing the November election in hopes they can pick up enough seats to take control of the House for the first time in 60 years. Democrats hold a 37-33 advantage in the House. Democrats have a 25-17 majority in the Senate, and senators don’t run for election until 2016. Republicans hope their House candidates will receive a boost this fall by having the governor on the ballot to increase turnout of GOP-leaning voters in several potentially tight races.
SECRETARY OF STATE
One of the feistier races is that between Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Democratic Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. They gave a preview on primary night with a squabble over how test returns ended up on a state website. Duran’s office blamed the county, saying some 88,000 Democratic votes that were part of test files were mistakenly reported by the clerk’s office. County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said technicians verified the county sent only one file to state election officials Tuesday and that file included the correct results that the county posted on its own website.