What a night!
The 2018 General Election was a watershed moment for New Mexico’s animals and all the compassionate voters who care about them. The prospect of seeing animal protection legislation pass the state legislature—and signed by the Governor—relies solely on whether the right policymakers hold office to take those positive, pro-animal actions.
This year, Animal Protection Voters and its state political action committee, APV-PAC, issued endorsements in four federal seats, several statewide races, and many state House of Representatives races. Changes in the State House and in the Governor’s office following the 2018 elections represent crucial outcomes that will help Animal Protection Voters advance its legislative priorities that have been in the works for many years. You can see all of the election results on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website here.
For Congress, APV endorsed for reelection Senator Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (congressional district 3), each winning their three-way races with 54% and 63% of the total votes, respectively. For open seats, congressional district 1 elected APV-endorsed Deb Haaland with 59% of the vote, and congressional district 2 elected APV-endorsed Xochitl Torres Small with 50.7% of the vote, winning by a margin of fewer than 3,000 votes—a stark reminder that, yes, every single vote counts, even in the “big” races.
Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham and her Lieutenant Governor running mate Howie Morales, both APV-endorsed candidates, handily won a two-way race with 57% of the statewide vote. Both Lujan Grisham and Morales have spectacular records of championing animal protection issues in their current positions (Lujan Grisham as Congresswoman, and Morales in the State Senate) and we greatly look forward to their leadership over the next four years. In the wake of an administration that rejected popular and commonsense programs and policies that would have vastly improved the lives of animals while saving taxpayer dollars, we are excited for a fresh start.
One of the most crucial statewide races related to the wellbeing of New Mexico’s wildlife and wild habitats was for Commissioner of Public Lands. In both the primary and general elections, APV-endorsed Stephanie Garcia Richard defied pessimistic polling and expectations, going on to clinch a solid win in her three-way general election contest with 51% of the total vote. Commissioner-Elect Garcia Richard is poised to guide the mission of the State Land Office with a ground-breaking new vision that will truly value New Mexico’s wild animals (whose presence is key to the ecological health of the state trust lands used to fund education in our state).
New Mexico House of Representatives
Importantly, in the State House, the playing field overall has shifted to benefit animals. Strong pro-animal candidates were able to win open seats. And while several conservative legislators with strong records on animal issues were defeated, many of their Democratic opponents appear to be animal-friendly as well. Other legislators with weak voting records on animal protection issues were ousted by challengers who pledged to bring humane values to the Roundhouse.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the State House of Representatives races:
• Republicans gained one seat and successfully defended multiple competitive challenges:
DISTRICT 22 – In the wake of Republican Rep. Jim Smith’s departure from the legislature, Republican Rep. Greg Schmedes was appointed to take his place and defeated challenger APV-endorsed Jessica Velasquez in the general election. The great news is that Rep. Schmedes has also communicated his commitment to animal protection values for both wildlife and companion animals, which is something we and his constituents can certainly celebrate.
DISTRICT 57 – APV-endorsed Rep. Jason Harper was able to narrowly stave off a challenge by Democrat Billie Ann Helean. Rep. Harper has an 87% APV lifetime score and has been a crucial advocate in the Roundhouse to bolster resources for statewide spay/neuter services.
DISTRICT 63 – Martin Zamora defeated Democrat incumbent Rep. George Dodge by a mere 28 votes, and there may be an automatic recount. Rep. Dodge has a mixed record—reflected by his 78% APV lifetime score—opposing wildlife protection measures, but supporting beneficial policies for companion animals like dogs and cats.
• Democrats gained nine seats:
DISTRICT 4 – Democrat Anthony Allison defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage (44% APV lifetime score).
DISTRICT 15 – APV-endorsed Dayan Hochman-Vigil won an open seat, being vacated by Republican Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, against opponent Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter.
DISTRICT 20 – Abbas Akhil narrowly beat out the APV-endorsed Republican incumbent Rep. Jim Dines, and the race may go to an automatic recount. Rep. Dines held an 89% APV lifetime score and we will miss working with him as a humane champion in the Republican caucus.
DISTRICT 27 – This open seat formerly held by the late Republican Rep. Larry Larrañaga was won by William Pratt over his Republican opponent Robert Godshall.
DISTRICT 28 – APV-endorsed Melanie Stansbury decisively defeated Republican incumbent Rep. Jimmie Hall. Rep. Hall held an 82% APV lifetime score but also more recently demonstrated opposition to many of APV’s current legislative priorities.
DISTRICT 29 – Joy Garratt defeated APV-endorsed Republican incumbent Rep. David Adkins. Rep. Adkins was a consistent pro-animal legislator on the conservative side of the political spectrum with a strong 90% APV lifetime score.
DISTRICT 30 – APV-endorsed Natalie Figueroa won this open seat, being vacated by Republican Rep. Nate Gentry, over her opponent Republican John Jones.
DISTRICT 53 – Willie Madrid secured a win over Republican incumbent Rep. Ricky Little (38% APV lifetime score).
DISTRICT 68 – Karen Bash beat out Republican incumbent Rep. Monica Youngblood (80% APV lifetime score).
• Many other APV-Endorsed candidates won against challengers, including sponsors of pending animal protection legislation like Rep. Matthew McQueen (Democrat, District 50) and Rep. Daymon Ely (Democrat, District 23).
• In total, 38 out of 41 APV-endorsed candidates for the State House of Representatives won their election!
• Unless recounts change the status of these races, the Democrats will now hold a 46-24 majority over Republicans in the State House.
• Regardless of political party, based on what we know about voting records and pledged positions, it appears as if the New Mexico House of Representatives now has a clear pro-animal majority. That means we can hold hope that if we all roll up our sleeves and do the work, and the “stars align,” several long-fought efforts to pass important animal protection legislation may finally be successful in 2019!
We celebrate all of our state’s animal protection champions, win or lose, on their hard-fought campaigns to represent their districts or the entire state.
Now The Work Begins
If you’ve ever wondered whether voting matters, the 2018 election should convince you it does. Starting in January, champions for our issues will occupy offices throughout the state and throughout levels of government. So for animal advocates, the real work starts now.
» Please reach out to the policymakers that represent you and ask them to support animal protection measures in 2019 and beyond.
» Mark your calendars for Animal Protection Lobby Day on January 29, 2019, where you’ll have a chance to link arms with fellow advocates and lobby your state legislators in person in Santa Fe.
» And be sure to get your rest, find rejuvenation and energy, and prepare for the most important state legislative session of the decade.
If you have any questions about election results, legislation, or anything else having to do with the wellbeing of New Mexico’s animals, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.