2018 Elections

Taos, reliably blue, sticks to its guns

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/18

By the end of Election Day, 58 percent of registered voters in Taos County turned out to cast their ballot. Taos County, a reliably Democratic area, stayed blue.

The only contested county-level …

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2018 Elections

Taos, reliably blue, sticks to its guns

Posted

This story has been updated to reflect the Nov. 8 print edition.

By the end of Election Day, 58 percent of registered voters in Taos County turned out to cast their ballot. Taos County, a solidly Democratic area, stayed true to its colors during the 2018 general election.

The biggest race of the evening to watch was that for governor, which pitted two congresspeople from central and southern New Mexico against one another. In the end, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham bested Republican Steve Pearce with 57 percent of the vote across New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham picked up 81 percent of the vote in Taos County. The only precinct that went for Pearce, with 61 percent of the vote, was the sole Republican stronghold in Taos County: Red River.

Incidentally, Red River was also one of the precincts that heavily favored Democratic incumbent Jerry Hogrefe for sheriff. Hogrefe is the former marshal of the small community east of Questa. In total, 83 percent of Red River’s vote went to Hogrefe, who won a second term as sheriff with 69 percent of the vote.

Amalia was the only community where most voters chose Hogrefe’s Republican challenger Jani Davis. Amalia was front and center of national attention this summer when Hogrefe led a raid of a compound where the remains of a 3-year-old boy were found, 11 children were taken into protective custody and five adults were ultimately arrested on federal firearms charges. That precinct, with only 80 voters, gave Davis 54 percent of the vote.

Hogrefe won his first term in 2014 against Republican candidate Ronald Montez by a slightly narrower but still comfortable margin than in this election: 67 percent.

About 2 percent of voters didn’t cast a ballot for either sheriff candidates.

Davis had outraised and outspent Hogrefe leading up to Tuesday (Nov. 6).

Women won around New Mexico

Jacqueline Medina, a Taoseña who ran as a Democrat for a position on the state court of appeals, won her bid to unseat Republican incumbent Hank Bonhoff. Medina was one of four Democratic women who ran against incumbent Republican men for spots on the 10-person court — and won. Their victories creates the first-ever female majority on the court of appeals.

Like other places around the country, New Mexico saw a slate of women, especially women of color, sweep into office.

Deb Haaland, from Laguna Pueblo, won the congressional seat in central New Mexico with 59 percent of the vote, making her one of two Native American women to be elected to Congress Tuesday, an historic first.

Furthermore, the state House of Representatives now has a near majority of women. Susan K. Herrera, state representative-elect for District 41, faced no Republican challenger in the general election. She will represent Tres Piedras, Arroyo Hondo, Pilar and Ojo Caliente in the Legislature.

Incumbents and uncontested races

Taos County voters also went for Democrats, both newcomers and incumbents, in a slew of federal and state offices, including: U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (74 percent) for a second term, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (84 percent) for a sixth term, incumbent Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (81 percent) and newcomer to statewide office Stephanie Garcia Richard, who ran for commissioner of public lands (74 percent).

Heinrich faced not one but two challengers in the general election. Taos County resident, former New Mexico governor and two-time presidential candidate Gary Johnson entered the race as a Libertarian. By the end of the day, Johnson picked up roughly 15 percent of the vote in Taos County, on par with his performance around the state. Republican Mick Rich, who campaigned on a Trump-like platform, received 30 percent of the vote across the state.

Like voters from around the state, the Taos County electorate favored the Democrats in other state offices, including Tim Eichenberg for state treasurer (78 percent) and Hector Balderas for attorney general (84 percent).

State Rep. Bobby Gonzales ran unopposed, as did magistrates judges Earnest Ortega and Jeff Shannon, and county commissioners Jim Fambro, Mark Gallegos and Candyce O’Donnell. Maria Annette Dimas, the county assessor-elect, also faced no challenger in the general election.

Back of the ballot

Taos County voters, like those in Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Los Alamos Counties, gave the okay to permanently reauthorize the tax that pays for the public and mostly-free Blue Buses. Taos County approved the measure with 83 percent of the vote.

Following historical trends, all four bond measures passed by a comfortable margin in Taos County.

Bonds are money the state borrows to pay for capital improvements to things like schools and senior centers. They are paid back through property taxes. Property taxes won’t increase as a result of voters approving the measures.

Bond A will put $10.7 million toward senior centers, including the full cost of a new facility at Picuris Pueblo. Bond B will pump money into public and academic libraries; in Taos County, that bond will put about $195,000 into libraries, while libraries in Colfax County will get about $94,000, according to Kathleen Knoth, UNM-Taos Library Director. Bond C will be responsible for about $6.1 million for new school buses and air conditioning units. Lastly, Bond D will put $4.3 million toward a new career center at UNM-Taos, with a total of roughly $137 million distributed across the state.

Taos County voters also went with the majority of the state in passing two amendments to our state constitution. Constitutional Amendment 1, widely backed by both major parties, would give the state Legislature the authority to streamline the state’s court system, allowing some lower-court decisions to skip over unnecessary steps in the appeal process.

Constitutional Amendment 2, which passed in Taos County with 85 percent of the vote, creates an independent ethics commission. The Legislature will determine in 2019 how the commission will be run, but broadly, it’ll have the power to investigate possible misconduct by state officials and employees of the executive and legislative branches, as well as candidates, lobbyists and government contractors.

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