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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrat Martin Heinrich won New Mexico’s open U.S. Senate seat Tuesday, defeating Republican Heather Wilson with strong support from Hispanic and female voters.
Heinrich carried the vote-rich Albuquerque area, which is home to a third of the state’s electorate, and he picked up solid margins in heavily Democratic and Hispanic areas in northern New Mexico, according to incomplete, unofficial returns.
Wilson outpaced Heinrich in traditional GOP strongholds of eastern and southern New Mexico, but it wasn’t enough to win in a state that also favored Democratic President Barack Obama for a second term.
New Mexico filled an open U.S. Senate seat for the second time in four years in a race that saw the candidates relentlessly punch away at one another over jobs, health care and taxes. Each spent more than $6 million on their campaign.
Heinrich’s victory ensures Democrats will hang on to the Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Bingaman, who is retiring after 30 years.
In his victory speech, Heinrich applauded Bingaman as “an example of how the Senate ought to work,” saying he worked for results, not credit.
“In an era when personal attacks have replaced tempered political discourse, he really set the bar for what we all ought to look to,” Heinrich told his cheering supporters.
Democrats kept control of two of New Mexico’s three congressional districts with the election Tuesday of Michelle Lujan Grisham to represent the Albuquerque area.
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and GOP Rep. Steve Pearce easily held onto their seats.
In the heavily Democratic 3rd District representing northern New Mexico, Lujan defeated Jeff Byrd, a rancher from Quay County. In the Republican 2nd District that represents the southern part of the state, Pearce defeated Evelyn Madrid Erhard, a community college professor from Mesilla.
Lujan Grisham easily defeated former Republican state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones after an uncharacteristically quiet campaign for what is traditionally a swing district known for its hard-fought races.
Lujan Grisham replaces Democrat Martin Heinrich, who defeated his predecessor, Republican Heather Wilson, for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.