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Herrell wins GOP nomination for congressional swing district

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SANTA FE (AP) — Former state Rep. Yvette Herrell on Tuesday won the Republican nomination for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, setting up a rematch with Democrat U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of Las Cruces.

Herrell finished ahead of a field that included oil executive Claire Chase and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys following a nasty primary campaign marred by personal attacks.

Former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti of Albuquerque won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to compete in an open race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall.
Ronchetti will run in the general election against six-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Libertarian Bob Walsch of Santa Fe. The weather newscaster defeated anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez of Albuquerque and professor Gavin Clarkson of Las Cruces.

Ronchetti ran a campaign with upbeat slogans about the future and highlighted his support of President Donald Trump’s border wall in visits to the area. Martinez highlighted Ronchetti’s prior criticism of Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination for president in New Mexico, while Trump also won his party’s statewide nomination to pursue reelection.

With no active opposition, Biden is already the party’s presumed nominee. But the former vice president’s haul of delegates from Tuesday’s voting pushes him closer to the 1,911 delegates he needs to claim the Democratic presidential nomination.

Democratic contenders for Congress, including a former CIA operative, district attorney and professional advocate for Native American communities, were facing off for the opportunity succeed Luján in a district dominated by registered Democrats. The winner of that seven-way contest will compete against a Republican.

Valerie Plame, a former U.S. intelligence operative whose secret identity was exposed shortly after her diplomat husband disputed U.S. intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion, aimed to make it to the November election.

Attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez, a longtime consultant for voting rights initiatives and Native American communities, was embraced in her campaign by numerous groups representing progressive causes, including the abortion rights group Emily’s List. Rival candidates included Santa Fe-based District Attorney Marco Serna, Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya and former Obama administration official John Blair.

Overall statewide voting exceeded 375,000, according to the secretary of state’s office.
At a rodeo fairgrounds polling station in Santa Fe, election workers squirted sanitizer on the hands of each arriving voter as one precaution against the coronavirus.

Democrat Mary Ann Andrews, 71, was fearful of mailing delays and instead delivered her absentee ballot to a polling location in Santa Fe on Election Day. She liked two female candidates in the 3rd District and had trouble deciding.

“I ended up voting for Plame,” she said. “I just flipped a coin, honestly. … I hope she doesn’t disappoint me.”

Three contenders vied for the GOP nomination in the 3rd District where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1. They included Navajo Nation member Karen Evette Bedonie of Mexican Springs, environmental engineer Alexis Johnson of Santa Fe and former Santa Fe County commissioner Harry Montoya.

In New Mexico’s metropolitan 1st Congressional District, former police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes won the Republican nomination to take on first-term Rep. Debra Haaland.
Garcia Holmes finished ahead of attorney Jared Vander Dussen and businessman Brett Kokinadis. Haaland is one of the nation’s first Native American congresswomen.

The compact district overlapping Albuquerque hasn’t been represented by a Republican since 2009.

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