Morales, Colón win primaries; longtime lawmakers ousted

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The Associated Press

SANTA FE — Two incumbent New Mexico lawmakers have lost primary bids to Democratic challengers, including a Santa Fe-area representative who fought accusations of sexual harassment.

Democratic voters on Tuesday nominated Andrea Romero of Santa Fe to replace Rep. Carl Trujillo in a race with no Republican challenger. Trujillo denies a former lobbyist's harassment allegations, which a panel of four lawmakers and an outside attorney are investigating.

Democrats also voted out Rep. Debbie Rodella of Espanola, who has served in the Legislature since 1993. They nominated retired education foundation director Susan Herrera of Embudo in a district with no Republican contenders.

Democrats are defending a 38-32 majority in the state House of Representatives.

State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard has won the Democratic nomination in the race for New Mexico public land commissioner.
Garcia Richard beat state Sen. George Muñoz of Gallup and activist Garrett VeneKlasen of Santa Fe in Tuesday's primary for land boss, a position that oversees oil and mineral development on state trust land.

Garcia Richard, of White Rock, will face Republican Patrick Lyons of Cuervo in November's general election.

Lyons is a member of the Public Regulation Commission who previously served two terms as land commissioner. Libertarian candidate and rancher Michael Lucero also will be on the ballot.
Current Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is running for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian.

The State Land Office is on track to collect record revenue from oil and gas lease sales this fiscal year as production in New Mexico rebounds.

The three-way Democratic primary for governor devolved into attacks about private business dealings and trustworthiness in the days before Tuesday's election. The state's lagging economy, dissatisfaction with public education and concerns about urban crime took center stage in public forums and political advertising.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grishamprevailed over state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and former media executive Jeff Apodaca, the son of a former governor.

Lujan Grisham face the sole Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, in the November general election.

A Democratic governor likely would shut Republicans out of redistricting decisions in 2021 and consolidate Democrats' control over state government for a decade to come.

Pearce advanced to November's general election after running unopposed in the Republican primary for governor. He says he knows what it takes to get the state on track and that he wants to help people "achieve the dignity that comes from having a good job."

Lujan Grisham says state government can have a role in creating a strong economy and taking care of vulnerable residents at the same time.

President Donald Trump is expected to be an issue in a closely watched congressional race in southern New Mexico.
Republican former state Rep. Yvette Herrell will face Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres Small in the 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border after they won their parties' nominations Tuesday.

Herrell says she strongly supports Trump and believes his policies will help the most Hispanic congressional district in the most Hispanic state in the nation.

Torres Small, who rarely mentioned Trump on the campaign trial, says Washington doesn't get "our way of life here in southern New Mexico." She promised to campaign in Hispanic areas and win over voters who rarely go to the polls.

The race in November may help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former state Democratic Party leader Debra Haaland has won the party's nomination for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District as she tries to become the first Native American congresswoman.

Democrats are looking to maintain control over the Albuquerque-based seat in November. The member of Laguna Pueblo finished ahead of a crowded field that included former career prosecutor Damon Martinez, former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara and business consultant Paul Moya.

Haaland will face former Republican state lawmaker Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton in the general election.

During the campaign, some fellow Democrats accused Haaland of not doing enough to address claims of misconduct while leading the state party. Haaland argued that she adopted a statewide sexual harassment policy for the party during her tenure.

Albuquerque attorney Brian Colon has won the Democratic nomination in the race for New Mexico state auditor.

He will face off against the sole Republican challenger, State Auditor Wayne Johnson, in the November general election.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Johnson to the position after Democrat Tim Keller stepped down and took over as Albuquerque mayor.

Colon is a former state Democratic Party chairman who now lives in Albuquerque. He grew up in Las Cruces and started his career there. In 2010, he ran to be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

Colon said during the campaign that the most important role of the auditor is to fight waste, fraud and abuse. He called for promoting a fraud hotline that would allow residents to report suspicious activity.

State Sen. Howie Morales has won the Democratic nomination for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

He beat out two other experienced politicians to win Tuesday's primary. He raised more campaign cash than his rivals.

During the campaign, Morales, of Silver City, stressed his background as a former teacher and said his experience would help the next administration oversee public schools and embark on education reforms.

Morales ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014.

The sole Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Michelle Garcia Holmes, is a former law enforcement officer. She'll be paired with Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce.

New Mexico election officials say primary Election Day voting has surpassed 92,000 people.
The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office says the figures reflect a partial tally of votes as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Democrats accounted for nearly two-thirds of Election Day participants.
In addition, more than 110,000 ballots from early and absentee voters were cast before Saturday.
Candidates are competing in wide-open primary races for New Mexico governor and two congressional seats, and several additional statewide races.

The SOS says more than 57,000 people have cast ballots in the first six hours of voting Tuesday.

Spokesman Joey Keefe says the figure reflects voter numbers through 1 p.m. They represent an incomplete breakdown of Election Day voter turnout because not all counties use systems for analyzing numbers throughout the day.

Two-thirds of the voters in the early Election Day count were Democrats.

Tuesday's numbers come in addition to the more than 110,000 ballots from early and absentee voters who cast their ballots before Saturday.

About 202,000 people in all voted in New Mexico's last mid-term primary elections in 2014.