Onn June 8, political commentator Joe Monahan on his political blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan”, posted his customary report and analysis on the final outcome of the 2022 New Mexico midterms and the resulting long term political repercussions. The link to the full blog is:
HEADLINE: TORREZ CRUISES PAST COLÓN TO TAKE AG PRIZE; RONCHETTI CRUSHES GOP GUV FIELD, PROGRESSIVES AND INCUMBENTS HOLD THEIR OWN IN KEY STATE HOUSE RACES; ELECTION RESULTS AND ANALYSIS UP NEXT
The most watched race of Primary ’22 fizzled fast last night as BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez cruised past State Auditor Brian Colón, scoring a 53 to 47 win. That nearly guarantees Torrez the AG prize as no Republican has been elected to the post since the 80’s.
It also sends Colón and his BFF AG Hector Balderas into political exile and tightens the grip of Senator Martin Heinrich, their longtime rival, on the state’s majority party.
The early returns gave hope the rough and tumble battle would be as tight as predicted when Colón was tied with Torrez but that was in northern NM precincts that he should have been winning easily. Soon the death blow was delivered when the early vote was posted in Big BernCo and Torrez derailed his rival with a decisive double digit victory.
The Torrez win was the second time voters recently looked past the ABQ crime crisis in an election contest, the first being Mayor Keller’s re-election last year as he grappled with a record homicide rate.
Attorney and state Rep. Moe Maestas told our KANW 89.1 FM audience:
There are a lot of moving parts to the crime crisis, not just elected officials. Democrats seem to accept that more than Republicans and it showed in Raul’s win.
Heinrich and Torrez were featured together so often that they reminded you of rat packers Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. Heinrich gets a boost for a possible long off gubernatorial quest but the downside he would have suffered from a Torrez loss could have been crippling. Say what they will, but Heinrich’s chief political asset is his willingness to take risk and last night it again paid off.
The Torrez triumph along with the success of all Dem state House incumbents was a warning shot at Mark Ronchetti as he celebrated his dusting of the field to take the ’22 GOP Guv nod with a 58 percent landslide over his nearest competitor, Rebecca Dow who came in second with 16 percent.
Ronchetti and the R’s want to turn the electorate against MLG by hanging the ABQ crime wave around her neck, but getting to that neck in the state’s largest county will be tricky, given last night’s results, said attorney David Buchholz.
RONCHETTI STORMS FIELD
The Ronchetti win was a fait accompli but the margin was more than healthy, giving him momentum into the general election. However, he scored a 56 percent win in the 2020 GOP US Senate primary only to go on to lose to Democrat Ben Ray Lujan.
In his victory speech he repeated his well-honed arguments about MLG being a member of the “political elite” and how it’s time for an outsider to handle the state’s stubborn ills.
For her part Dow, whose inner circle last week signaled that she would not endorse Ronchetti on Election Night had a change of heart in the face of the bruising defeat and, according to GOP analyst Bob Cornelius was probably pushed along by party leaders.
Still, Paul Guessing the conservative director of the Rio Grande Foundation pointed out that Ronchetti has more healing to do than an ER doctor on the graveyard shift in a GOP that remains badly splintered:
The primary was hard-fought and more divisive than it had to be. In light of the final results, the race got much nastier than it needed to when the goal is to fire MLG.
For her part MLG was all about playing it cool. In a statement she nicked Ronchetti:
We face a choice. . .between a leader who has committed their life to. . .New Mexico and someone who has admitted they don’t know the challenges New Mexicans face, between someone with a track record of building consensus and delivering results and someone who has never run a business or served our state.
For now only a mild rebuke for the TV weather celebrity but the intensity of the campaign is sure to escalate when Ronchetti reloads his cash kitty and runs a nearly exclusive negative campaign to try to persuade Democratic voters to sit out the November election and give him a narrow victory.
The bottom line is this: When and if does MLG get to 50 percent in the polls and dampen any GOP enthusiasm that could threaten a second term? The longer it takes the longer the battle.
When it came to those hyped state House Dem primaries featuring moderate challengers to progressive candidates including some incumbents, it turned out to be a “status quo” election, analyzed attorney Buchholz.
House Speaker Brian Egolf noted that not one House Dem incumbent was knocked off and Buchholz pointed out the biggest progressive loss of the evening was telegraphed long ago–that of former Rep. Jospeh Sanchez who defeated Rep. Roger Montoya in a a northern battle.
There was also a victory for moderate Dem Cynthia Borrego against Darren Aguerro in an ABQ westside district but that was balanced by the huge defeat of moderate Cherise Quezada at the hands of progressive Eleanor Chavez in another westside district.
Moderate challengers going down included big name Socorro Doctor Ravi Bhasker who fell to challenger Tara Jaramillo in House District 38 losing in Sierra, Dona Ana and even Socorro where he has been the elected mayor for over thirty years.
The question in the air before the results arrived was whether State Rep. Patricia Lundstrom would make a play for House Speaker by challenging usually liberal Rep. Javier Martinez as Speaker Egolf heads for the exits. After the mauling of the moderates, the betting is that she won’t.
In other statewide offices, no surprises. Joe Maestas handily defeated Zack Quintero–57-43–for the Dem nomination. There is no R running so Maestas was effectively elected.
Former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya easily handled Heather Benavidez, scoring a 59 to 41 victory. Dems are expected to keep the office in their corner in November as no R has been elected to the post in decades.
In BernCo moderate County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty was aced by liberal Eric Olives in her East Mountain district. If Olivas can hold off a GOP challenger in November–and it could be tough–he will take the seat.
In the North Valley commission district Barbara Baca easily dispatched political newcomer Erin Muffoletto and is on her way to replacing her buddy and Commissioner Debbie O’Malley who is term limited.
Progressive John Allen took the Dem nomination for sheriff running on a police reform platform. The R nominee will be former GOP state Rep. Paul Pacheco.
RAW DATA COUNT
Below is the raw data count as posted by the Secretary State on the contested state wide races and the congressional races:
REPUBLICAN NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR
JAY C BLOCK: 11% (12,388)
REBECCA L DOW: 15% (18,105)
GREGORY JOSEPH ZANETTI: 14% (16,292)
ETHEL R MAHARG: 2% (1,828)
MARK V RONCHETTI: 58% (68,270)
TOTAL VOTES: 116,883
REPUBLCIAN NOMINATION FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
ANT L THORNTON: 60% (64,026)
PEGGY L MULLER-ARAGÓN: 40% (43,188)
TOTAL VOTES: 107,214
DEMOCRATIC NOMINATIN FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL
BRIAN S COLÓN 47% (63,226)
RAÚL TORREZ 53% (72,644)
TOTAL VOTES: 135,870
DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR STATE AUDITOR
ZACKARY A QUINTERO 43% (55,197)
JOSEPH M MAESTAS 57% ( 74,126)
TOTAL VOTES: 129,323
DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR STATE TREASUER
LAURA M MONTOYA 59% (74,931)
HEATHER R BENAVIDEZ 41% (52,676)
TOTAL VOTES (127,607]
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 1
DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT MELANIE ANN STANSBURY RAN UNOPPOSED
REPUBLICAN PRMARY RESULTS
LOUIE SANCHEZ: 41% (18,011)
MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES: 59% (25,609)
TOTAL VOTES 43,620
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 2
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN YVETTE HERRELL RAN UNOPPOSED
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY RESULTS
GABRIEL VASQUEZ: 76% (23,896)
DARSHAN NILESH PATEL: 24% (7,487)
TOTAL VOTES: 31,383
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 3
DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT CONGRESSWOMAN TERESA LEGER FERNANDEZ RAN UNOPPED
TOTAL VOTES (100%) (46,755)
REPUBLICAN ALEXIS MARTINEZ JOHNSON RAN UNOPPOSED
TOTAL VOTES: 28,598 (100%)