Few in state GOP with­stand blue wave

It’s a sub­dued en­vi­ron­ment at Al­bu­querque watch party

The Taos News - - ELECTION 2018 - By Robert Nott rnott@sfnewmex­i­can.com

Minute af­ter minute, race af­ter race, the dis­as­ter for the New Mex­ico Repub­li­can Party just got worse.

It lost the bat­tle for gov­er­nor. And sec­re­tary of state. And state au­di­tor. And trea­surer. And at­tor­ney gen­eral. And land com­mis­sioner. And a spot on the Supreme Court, not to men­tion seats on the Court of Ap­peals.

And oh, yeah: The GOP also dropped a va­ri­ety of leg­isla­tive seats that once could be counted on to stay red, even in the tough­est of times.

You get the idea. The state GOP on Tues­day night (Nov. 6) ex­pe­ri­enced losses that even the most pes­simistic Repub­li­can couldn’t have fig­ured on.

Although Repub­li­can Yvette Her­rell was lead­ing her race against Xo­chitl Tor­res Small in South­ern New Mex­ico’s 2nd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict Wed­nes­day (Nov. 7), most other con­tests of any im­por­tance re­flected a Demo­cratic tsunami that hadn’t been seen in years and rep­re­sented an al­most com­plete re­ver­sal of events from Elec­tion Day 2014 when state Repub­li­cans took the ma­jor­ity of seats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Repub­li­can sup­port­ers who crowded one of the ball­rooms at the Crowne Plaza Ho­tel in Al­bu­querque for an Elec­tion Day cel­e­bra­tion watched na­tional re­sults play out on large video screens broad­cast­ing Fox News through­out the evening. At­ten­dees cheered and ap­plauded when they heard that Repub­li­cans ex­pe­ri­enced some wins across the na­tion and cel­e­brated with news that the U.S. Se­nate would re­main in Repub­li­can con­trol.

But by 8:30 p.m., as it be­came clear Democrats were lead­ing in most statewide races, the mood of the evening be­came clear.

Ryan Can­gi­olosi, chair­man of the state’s Repub­li­can Party, ac­knowl­edged Democrats “to­tally out­spent us” in a num­ber of po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, in­clud­ing the gov­er­nor’s race and races for the U.S. House

“The thing is, we had a his­tor­i­cal turnout of vot­ers for both Repub­li­cans and Democrats,” he said, shortly af­ter Steve Pearce, the Repub­li­can can­di­date for gov­er­nor, con­ceded to Demo­crat Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham around 9:30 p.m. “But an en­er­gized Demo­crat base led to what we see tonight.”

And the pa­rade con­tin­ued: Vot­ers re­turned Demo­crat Martin Hein­rich to the U.S. Se­nate by a wide mar­gin over lit­tle-known Mick Rich, a Repub­li­can, and Lib­er­tar­ian Gary John­son, once a Repub­li­can gov­er­nor of the state.

When Deb Haa­land de­feated Repub­li­can Jan­ice Arnold-Jones for the 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict seat, and Demo­crat Ben Ray Lu­ján was re­turned to Wash­ing­ton for an­other term as the con­gress­man from the 3rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, the writ­ing was on the wall.

Democrats had long boasted their ground game was sim­ply un­matched, with a pre­ci­sion can­vass­ing op­er­a­tion and plenty of peo­ple out knock­ing on doors, mak­ing phone calls and get­ting out the vote. It’s also likely the back­lash against Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, widely un­pop­u­lar in New

Mex­ico ac­cord­ing to the polls, played a role when vot­ers cast bal­lots, though Can­gi­olosi said he did not think that was the case.

Rather, he said, go­ing back some 30 years, New Mex­i­cans have al­ter­nated be­tween elect­ing Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can gov­er­nors for two terms of four years each, and Tues­day’s re­sults may be a con­tin­u­a­tion of that tra­di­tion.

That, of course, is one way to look at it. But by 10:30 p.m., the Repub­li­can ball­room was nearly empty, and there was not much to con­sole a Repub­li­can.

As the night ended, two peo­ple wear­ing GOP stick­ers walked out of the ball­room.

“It’s gonna be all right,” one said.

Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mex­i­can

Gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Steve Pearce ad­dresses a crowd of sup­port­ers Mon­day (Nov. 5) at a Repub­li­can cam­paign of­fice in Al­bu­querque.

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