State roundup: NM makes national history

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Voters elect first Hispanic female governor in the state

Gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez rode the Republican tidal wave of victory into office in Tuesday’s general election with a solid 53.4 percent of the vote. Two-term Lt. Gov. Diane Denish lost her bid for governor, pulling just 46.3 percent in this year’s overall trend to replace Democratic incumbents at the local, state and national level.
“Together we did all that we could to win this election … we came up short, but I hold my head up high…and you should, too,” Denish told supporters in her concession speech.
Martinez, 51, is a prosecutor from Las Cruces who made departing Gov. Bill Richardson a central figure in her campaign. She labeled Denish as “more of the same” as Richardson’s popularity has tanked amid high unemployment, rising state budget deficits, and federal investigations into allegations of pay-to-play contracts.
“Working together we will create jobs, get our books in order…tonight we have taken a significant step in turning New Mexico around for all of us,” Martinez said.
Dianna Duran broke another Democratic stronghold by becoming the first Republican secretary of state in New Mexico in 82 years. Duran garnered 57.7 percent of the vote to one-term incumbent Mary Herrera’s 42.3 percent. Herrera has experienced a number of setbacks recently. Several members of her senior staff were fired or resigned in protest. Her office also has been the focus of at least two investigations amid allegations of questionable management practices.
Bucking the trend nationally, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan held onto his seat in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District with a 56.8-43.2 percent margin over Republican challenger Tom Mullins.
Longtime Republican Rep. Jeannette Wallace from Los Alamos won her hard fought battle against White Rock Democrat Stephanie Richard 51-49 percent.
“I want to congratulate you…and thank you for your service to our community,” Richard said in a concession telephone call to Wallace Tuesday evening. The call was aired live on lamonitor.com. “We both ran campaigns that focused on the issues and on our strengths and we didn’t get nasty…our campaigns were a model for the state,” Richard said.
Wallace spoke of her 11th straight victory this morning saying, “It’s hard to put into words but I feel relief that the campaign is over and such gratitude for all those voters in Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties for their loyal support.”
Despite an apparent repudiation of the party that’s been in power for the last two years, Democrats did prevail in several state races. Democratic incumbent State Auditor Hector Balderas retained his seat 55-45 percent over Republican challenger Errol Chavez, Democratic State Treasurer James Lewis won over GOP candidate Jim Schoonover, Democratic incumbent Attorney General Gary King was re-elected by a 53.5-44.5 percent margin over Republican Matthew Chandler and Democratic Land Commissioner incumbent Ray Bennett Powell received 52.2 percent of the vote over GOP challenger Matthew Rush with 47.8 percent.
Editor’s note: All vote totals remain unofficial until canvassed.

Carol A. Clark can be reached at lanews@