Election night saw gains for New Mexico Democrats. Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham won the governorship by a healthy margin, outpacing opponent Steve Pearce by almost 14 percentage points. Despite deep ideological divisions between the major political parties, Lujan Grisham talked unity.
“I think to be an effective governor, you’ve got to be clear that a variety of ideas are all valuable and valued. And I think bringing New Mexico together starts with respecting the opinions of all New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said.
She also addressed the state’s struggling behavioral health system and said her administration will focus on funding options for people who need care. “We’re going to make Las Vegas, New Mexico, a behavioral health center of excellence.”
Lujan Grisham said border states are going to have to stand against the political stunt of putting troops along the border and ugly immigration rhetoric.
“We’re going to push back and make sure that we are treating asylum-seekers and refugee-seekers in the way in which our constitution requires,” she said.
Deb Haaland is heading to a Congress that’s much bluer than it was before Election Day. She said this will give Democrats more freedom to advance their causes, and to swat bad bills that come down.
“We should never be talking about taking health care away from people or kicking people off of SNAP benefits or trying to balance the budget by cutting Social Security and Medicare,” she said.
Haaland’s campaign emphasized fighting climate change and moving completely to renewable energy. Like Lujan Grisham, making sure public schools are solid is also at the top of her list. But it doesn’t end there.
“So many other issues, right? Missing and murdered indigenous women, women’s pay, equality, women’s reproductive rights. There’s a lot of things we need to go to Congress to do, and I’m ready to go and protect and defend,” she said.
Haaland said she’ll work hard, and her door will be open.
Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce gave his concession speech to a packed ballroom of supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. This loss will put him of politics for the second time since he became a U.S. Congressman, but he kept his message positive, even praising the record voter turnout this election.
Afterward, he told reporters that he hopes to inspire New Mexicans to work toward a common vision.
"New Mexico is never going to succeed unless we as Republicans, Democrats and Independents work together,” Pearce said. “Yeah, we had a different vision than my opponent, but the voters spoke and they spoke clearly, and so any way I can help in that, I will. I will say it from the front with the belief that many people here will say we should be working together.”
Penny Griego was waiting to shake Pearce’s hand. She said he’s been a strong supporter of community development and this setback doesn’t shake her confidence in his leadership.
“Steve Pearce has many years of experience in politics, and what he has done for the state of New Mexico is historic. So he’s a winner for us even tonight,” Griego said.
Pearce said he’ll continue pushing for projects in oil and gas and agriculture that he touted during his campaign. The 71-year-old didn’t mention a future run for national or state office.
Next door to Steve Pearce’s watch party, Republican Janice Arnold-Jones stood strong for close to an hour after her race for New Mexico’s First Congressional District was called for Democrat Debra Haaland.
“But the people spoke and they believe the other way,” Arnold-Jones said. She started her campaign with no money, and she said they only made it this far by walking door to door. “We’ve been knocking on doors since October. Our only way to get our message out was at the front door.”
Arnold-Jones is leaving this race disappointed, but she’s ready to move on. She planned to sleep in, and fix her sliding glass door.