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New Mexico Elects Its First All Woman Of Color Delegation To the U.S. House

Yvette Herrell in an NMPBS candidate interview in October; Rep. Deb Haaland and Teresa Leger Fernandez in a Democratic Party of NM virtual celebration on election night.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, New Mexico made history by electing its first U.S. House delegation composed of all women of color. Yvette Herrell, Teresa Leger Fernandez and Deb Haaland also make up the largest ever all-woman House delegation to Congress.

In the 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, was re-elected with 58% of the votes. 

Political newcomer and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez won the seat in northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. In a speech during her party’s virtual event Tuesday night, she said she stands on the shoulders of her parents, both bilingual educators. “I stand on all those women who fought to have the right to vote,” she said. “And here we are a hundred years later, and sending the first Latina, the first woman from this district to Congress.” 

In New Mexico’s southern 2nd Congressional District, Republican Yvette Herrell, who is Cherokee, beat out Democratic incumbent Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. 

The morning of the election, KUNM asked Herrell what it would mean to be a part of the historic delegation of women of color. She said it would be an honor, but that she didn’t make her Native American heritage part of her campaign. “I’m blessed to be enrolled with the Cherokee Nation,” she said, “but race for me hasn’t been so much of an issue because I just feel like we’re all Americans and we’re all New Mexicans.”

Herrell will be one of only three Native women in the 117th congress, according to Indian Country Today. She’ll join Haaland and Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, a Ho-Chunk Nation member, who became the first Native American women elected to the U.S. House in 2018.


Correction (11/5, 9 p.m.): Hawaii became the first state to elect an all woman of color delegation to the House in 1990, sending Representatives Patricia Saiki and Patsy Mink to Congress. We regret the error.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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