By the end of New Mexico’s primary election day—Tuesday, June 5, 2018—a little more than 27% of voters eligible to vote in the primary election had cast their ballots. And when voters went to the ballots, it’s clear that animal protection was one of the issues they kept front of mind.
Animal Protection Voters and its state political action committee, APV-PAC, issued primary election endorsements for Congressional District 1, four statewide races, and some state House of Representatives races—but those endorsements included qualified candidates only if they faced a primary election opponent. If there was no primary opponent (e.g., there was only one Republican running, or one Democrat running), we did not issue an endorsement for those uncontested seats, but we plan to revisit those races for the general election in November.
We are grateful to all of the candidates who threw their hats in the ring. There is no doubt that contested races facilitate an improved dialogue and examination of issues that would not happen otherwise. And win or lose, life on the campaign trail is difficult. It is a great personal sacrifice that each candidate undertakes to travel throughout the state or their district to meet constituents and share their goals and platform, and we appreciate and thank them all for that valuable work.
Here’s a look at our endorsements in the top-of-ballot races—for Congress and statewide seats—and the primary election results:
Congressional District 1: Deb Haaland (D) – WIN
(41% of the vote in a 6-way race)
With a long history of animal advocacy and unique perspective into the protection of animals in the wild and in our homes, as well as habitat and water conservation, Deb Haaland is keenly aware of the myriad animal protection issues that we and our supporters care about—whether it’s providing federal protection for the animals of domestic violence survivors, bolstering enforcement against dog fighting and puppy mills, cracking down on antibiotic misuse that gives cruel factory farms advantages over small family farms, ensuring federal agencies are funded and take action to administer humane fertility control for wild horses, or prohibiting dog, cat and horse meat from being produced or sold in the U.S.
The early polls showed this as an extremely close race with another candidate in the lead, but Animal Protection Voters volunteers went into overdrive to help support her campaign in the final week, helping to inspire some first-time or irregular voters to cast their ballots for Deb Haaland. Our gratitude goes out to everyone who helped make Deb’s enormous, inspiring victory possible.
Governor: Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) – WIN
(66% of the vote in a 3-way race)
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has not only shown consistent support for pro-animal policies across the board, but also has played a significant crucial leadership role in Congress on significant animal protection legislation, making her the clear best candidate in the 2018 Governor’s race. Notably, she has taken a strong stand against the slaughter of American horses for human consumption, and she has also supported efforts to stop the Chinese dog meat trade, criminalize the creation of animal “crush videos,” crack down on unfettered use of toxic pesticides that threaten native bees and birds, foster life-saving partnerships between veterans and service animals, and protect domestic violence victims and their companion animals.
Animal Protection Voters announced its endorsement early in the election season, in October 2017, confident that we can find in Michelle Lujan Grisham a fierce, competent and compassionate voice for New Mexicans’ humane values. We are thrilled to see Congresswoman Lujan Grisham’s strong win on election day.
Commissioner of Public Lands: Stephanie Garcia Richard (D) – WIN
(39% of the vote in a 3-way race)
In another close primary race, Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard was the only candidate for Land Commissioner who has a proven record on many important animal protection and conservation issues like banning coyote killing contests (having earned a 100% lifetime animal protection score) and the only candidate to unequivocally commit to banning traps on state trust lands. As an educator, experienced public servant, and steadfast voice for conservation and wildlife protection, she remains the best choice for sustainable land management that will maximize New Mexico’s future—for children and our environment alike.
In stunning defiance of inaccurate pre-primary polling and political pundits’ emphasis on fundraising-based viability, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard edged out the competition—and we heard from many of our supporters that our endorsement (read why we chose Stephanie Garcia Richard in the Facebook note from our executive director here) is what swung their vote in her direction. Thank you to all who cast their votes keeping in mind the wellbeing of the wildlife that live and thrive on state trust lands—and a special thanks to another Land Commissioner candidate, Garrett VeneKlasen, who was also a part of the amazing elevation of wildlife protection and conservation issues in the race, and who we applaud for now throwing his support behind Garcia Richard for the general election.
Lieutenant Governor: Howie Morales (D) – WIN
(47% of the vote in a 3-way race)
Senator Howie Morales has an impeccable record of supporting important animal protection issues, making him the standout candidate in the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s race. Most recently, he played a key role in securing the passage of a bill that would have provided, for the first time ever in New Mexico, a robust funding source for spay/neuter services for low-income families.With his background, he is uniquely positioned and committed to supporting pro-animal policies, which are inextricably linked to Senator Morales’ priorities to advocate for education, the environment, public safety, behavioral health, and child protection.
With a strong campaign based on compassion for children, families, and animals alike, Senator Howie Morales won the primary election with a robust lead. We look forward to supporting him as a part of the Lujan Grisham gubernatorial ticket.
State Auditor: Bill McCamley (D) – LOSS
(37% of the vote in a 2-way race)
Representative Bill McCamley has been a dependable voice for animal protection as a legislator, as his voting record shows (earning a 93% lifetime animal protection score). With the power to ensure government entities spend tax dollars properly and effectively, the Auditor’s office would have been an excellent fit for Bill McCamley, who had brought forth ideas for cracking down on wasteful and cruel state-sponsored wildlife killing and undertaking a cost-benefit examination of statewide spay/neuter programs.
Sadly, as happens all too often, lack of name recognition in certain denser parts of the state made it difficult for Representative McCamley to break through among the broader electorate, despite his incredibly hard work and energy. We wish him the best of luck in the future and hope to continue working with him in New Mexico—and we look forward to connecting with the primary winner, Brian Colón, to see how he can make animal protection a proactive part of his vision for the State Auditor’s office.
To close, a brief note about political parties: Animal Protection Voters/APV-PAC always issues endorsements based on candidates’ records and positions on animal protection issues—not based on party affiliation, or on any other non-animal issues. Over the years, that has sometimes made us unpopular with politicos across the spectrum, from progressives to conservatives, because of our focus on our agenda: to improve humane laws and infrastructure to protect animals. Please know that the Democrat-heavy endorsements for the 2018 primary election are by happenstance—due in part to there being fewer contested primary races for Republicans than Democrats, and also due in part to which candidates responded to questionnaires—and we strongly urge all candidates, regardless of party, to boldly make animal protection a part of their campaign platforms.