Election 2020 New Mexico Results & Discussion; the Future of the Republican Party in NM
The November 2020 Election in New Mexico will shape NM and US Government for multiple generations. Many of the races went for Career Democrats, but there is hope for Republicans in what is described as a “Red Ripple” by Joe Monahan.
After months of anticipation working on the campaign trail for Alexis Johnson for Congress, then actively working against her campaign for US House NM03, the votes were cast and the results in New Mexico have been calculated.
2019/2020 was the first time I got into Politics at this level, other than my previous experience as Student Body President. After going through the primary as Alexis Johnson for Congress campaign manager, what fascinated me the most was the lessons to be learned from the data which is provided in the election and how candidates must use that data to inform their political strategy. Elections show the reality of the politics and shows weaknesses: for candidates, for political parties, and much more. I believe in and supported Republican Candidates, for example, I wrote an op-ed which was published in October 2020 in the Pinon Post titled “Trump, Ronchetti, Herrell will Put New Mexico Families First.”
New Mexico 2020 Election Results & Reflections
Data provided by the New Mexico Secretary of State.
President: Joe Biden 54%-Donald Trump 44%
Joe Biden was announced as the winner of New Mexico at 7:26 PM on November 3, 2020 by the Associated Press. Personally I thought Donald Trump would win New Mexico due to the numerous ‘Trump Trains’ and Rallies around the State, but I believe that his under performance was due to NM State GOP efforts such as creating a ‘Respect New Mexico’ campaign and staying somewhat distanced from President Donald Trump, including Mark Ronchetti and Alexis Johnson, two more who under performed compared to my expectations.
One area where blame should be assigned is to the New Mexico GOP who should have promoted ‘Top of the Ticket’ Donald Trump with bill boards and advertisements, then also Ronchetti, and Yvette Herrell. Out of those three Yvette Herrell won her race (which will be discussed below).
Nationally, we still do not know who won between Joe Biden and Donald Trump the day after the Election Day. Legal issues, recounts, and the political posturing and fighting has already begun, and the longer and less decisive the ‘victory’, the more each side will feel that they won. I believe that Donald Trump will end up as the winner of the Electoral College after everything is decided, in a week or possibly one month.
US Senate: Ben Ray Lujan 51%-Mark Ronchetti 46%
While these results are incredibly close, when you factor in Bob Walsh, the Libertarian Candidate who siphoned off 3% and 23,000 votes, many of which would have gone directly to Mark Ronchetti, and this race was incredibly close especially considering Ben Ray Lujan had served previously as the US House NM CD-3 Representative for the past 12 years where he ascended to the Assistant Speaker of the House position right behind Nancy Pelosi, and this was Mark Ronchetti’s first attempt at elected office since retiring from his former career as a Television Meteorologist in January.
Personally I thought that Ronchetti would win. I supported him and donated to his campaign. Mark Ronchetti had a number of advantages which he maximized due to his dedication to the campaign trail. For example, Mark’s fundraising total, including out fundraising Ben Ray Lujan in the final quarter of the race, were incredible achievements and speculation will now continue regarding Mark Ronchetti’s next ‘move’, whether to seek Mayor of Albuquerque as some have speculated. It will be interesting to watch Mark Ronchetti’s future as, behind Yvette Herrell, Mark is one of the leaders of the Republican Party in New Mexico and a front-runner for any future office.
One issue with any future run in Albuquerque is that fact that Ben Ray Lujan outpaced Mark Ronchetti in Bernalillo County 56%-40% which translates into 50,000 votes, which was essentially the Margin of Victory between Ben Ray Lujan and Mark Ronchetti.
Ben Ray should not have been particularly strong in Bernalillo County, considering his seat in NM CD-3 contains a very small portion of Bernalillo County, and Ben Ray is more well known in the North. Whereas Mark Ronchetti lives in Albuquerque and worked in Albuquerque with a state-wide news station. These turnout numbers also highlight the fact that Republicans have a difficult time in more urban areas.
US House NM01: Deb Haaland 58%-Michelle Garcia Holmes 42%
Deb Haaland, former NM Democrat Committee Chair, and who also campaigned for Elizabeth Warren in the months leading up to the COVID19 pandemic rather than working for New Mexico. During the months leading up to the election, Representative Haaland only agreed to debate Michelle Garcia Holmes one time on Television. Yesterday Haaland was re elected to a second term where she will continue to climb the Democrat leadership ladder, now strengthened through the election of Teresa Leger Fernandez to NM CD-3, Ben Ray Lujan’s old seat, and now Ben Ray Lujan who was elected to US Senate. Representative Deb Haaland is a long term friend of Teresa Leger Fernandez, who handily won NM CD-3 as will be discussed below.
US House NM02: Yvette Herrell 54%-Xochitl Torres Small 46%
In one of the most closely watched house races in the country, and officially the most expensive US Congressional race in New Mexico History with over $30 Million dollars in advertisement, Yvette Herrell has an upset-victory over first term Xochitl Torres Small who won against Herrell in 2018. Yvette Herrell was endorsed by President Donald Trump, Jim Jordan, and a number of strong conservative leaders and who showed a surprisingly strong margin of victory. I personally supported Yvette Herrell though the Primaries and General Election, including writing my previous op-ed about Herrell. Yvette Herrell is now the path forward for Republicans in New Mexico, regained a Republican seat which was lost in 2018, and prevented two election cycles of ‘shut-outs’ by Republicans at the Federal level. Congratulations to Yvette Herrell.
US House NM03: Teresa Leger Fernandez 58%-Alexis Martinez Johnson 42%
The US House NM03 District has been reliably Democrat since its creation in 1983 and given birth to such Democrat titans as Bill Richardson, Tom Udall, and Ben Ray Lujan. I served as Alexis Johnson for Congress strategic advisor / campaign manager starting in October 2019, so I know this district and race VERY well.
In the race that I was most interested from this night, due to my own personal connection with the race, was the NM CD3 race where I had predicted a Landslide Victory for Teresa Leger Fernandez due to the fact that Alexis failed to learn from what the primaries were saying and what I told her, such as focusing almost entirely on Rio Rancho, which Sandoval County was almost an even split for her and Teresa, due to the number of Republicans, focus on Farmington / San Juan County, and focus on Catholic Wedge Issues in the heavily blue corridor of Santa Fe, Mora, San Miguel, etc where Alexis spent a significant portion of her time with very little results.
However, the result was better than I personally expected, which only shows that if she had not spent $30,000 on out of state campaign consultants, and focused on delivering a conservative messaging throughout Northern New Mexico and standing with President Donald Trump & Oil & Gas Industry, this seat was within grasp. Unfortunately, she listened to the wrong advice from a group which, once she began implementing what I had discussed (such as putting out signs, facebook sponsored posts, etc) starting earlier in September/October due to mail-in voting, rather than starting to distribute signs in the middle of October.
Alexis Johnson for Congress was a missed opportunity for a candidate to carry a consistent, traditional conservative, pro-Trump, Pro Oil & Gas messaging which would have translated into a more competitive and challenging race for Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez. Due to Alexis’ low campaign efforts, Teresa campaigning was able to raise money for Democrats in NM and across the United States rather than campaigning, who has now been elected to the US House and most likely will win the next 6 terms with 60% of the vote, just like Ben Ray Lujan did for the last 6 years until he moved to the US Senate.
One area that Johnson spent very little time campaigning, is Rio Rancho, which is where Alexis received the most votes in the Republican Primary, so only naturally it would have been best to spend a significant amount of time campaigning in Rio Rancho, however, Sandoval County ended up being nearly 50% split for Teresa Leger Fernandez.
Teresa Leger Fernandez’s major victory came from Santa Fe County, outpacing Alexis Martinez Johnson by 53,000 votes ended up 80% for Leger Fernandez — where Alexis spent time focusing on “Swing Democrats”.
NM State House and Senate
In the “Good News for Republicans” at the NM House and Senate Level, a few names emerged victorious: Crystal Diamond, Stefani Lord, Joshua Sanchez, Rebecca Dow. Crystal is replacing John Arthur Smith who was ‘Primaried’ by Noemi Parra-Smith, in the most expensive State Senate race in New Mexico. I was glad to see Diamond win who is a shining star of the Republican Party in New Mexico. Joshua Sanchez was a surprise to replace Clemente Sanchez after she was Primary’d as well and I was especially excited to see Stefani Lord who defeated Jessica Velasquez in a nail-biter that was contentious and Lord was significantly out-spent.
The Future of the Republican Party in New Mexico
The Republican Party in New Mexico must build upon these wins in rural counties, build upon the success of Yvette Herrell at the Federal Level, and focus improving Republican Opportunities inn Albuquerque/Bernalillo County, which controls a majority of the state. “Trumpism” must be accepted and embraced at the NM State and County GOP levels.