From the County Chair – Election Recap

by | Dec 2, 2022 | Message from the Chair

By Alex Piland, Chair, DPSC

We had amazing wins and devastating losses.

There was no red wave in the 2022 election cycle!

As you know, Democrats swept New Mexico’s upballot races. That is good because it was critical for the state’s future. As of January 2023, all congresssional seats, our Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, and Secretary of State will be held by Democrats.

Sandoval County has an additional reason to be proud. Our next New Mexico  State Treasurer will be Laura Montoya. Laura was a twoterm Sandoval County  Treasurer. She had more than a 99 percent collection rate and maintained our excellent bond rating. In addition to being eminently qualified, she is the first woman treasurer in our state and the first Latina treasurer in the entire country.

Unfortunately, we suffered some devasting losses in our county. We lost our District Court Judge race. The 13th Judicial District consists of Cibola, Sandoval, and Valencia Counties. Sandoval County came up about 560 votes short, but what really hurt was Valencia County. In order for us to recapture this critical seat, we will have to really get out the vote. Judge Karl Reifsteck worked all three counties. He had huge voter outreach, but it was just not enough to overcome red Valencia County and our county’s poor performance.

Sandoval County Assessor Linda Gallegos won a second term with 52 percent of the vote.

Probate Judge Ed Lovato, Magistrate Judges Delilah Baca, Ann

Maxwell Chavez,  and Ken Eichwald all won ncontested races.

Sheriff Jesse James Casaus won with 53 percent of the vote. Anecdotally we know he had a lot of crossover, but it is still a big “W” for Dems!

In spite of Commissioner Kathy Bruch carrying District 1 with a whopping 59 percent of the vote, the Sandoval County ommission will continue with its Republican majority.

Newcomer Greg Bennett  made a great showing with 46 percent of the vote. Greg was 1,188 votes shy, but it was not for a lack of hard work!

Sandoval County has eight legislative seats, and Democrats hold five. One Republican incumbent in House District (HD) 60 ran uncontested. (We’ll get him next time!) Democrats Susan Herrera from HD 41, Christine Chandler from HD 43, Matthew McQueen from HD 50, and Derrick Lente from HD 65 all had uncontested races.

Kathleen Cates narrowly beat Jane Powdrell-Culbert in HD 44; Representative-elect Cates won with 51 percent or 237 votes.

Long-time Sandoval County resident, Rio Rancho School Board and New Mexico State School Board President, and current Sandoval County Ethics Chair Ramon Montaño garnered 46 percent in HD 23, losing by 1,026 votes.

Both Cates and Montaño were victims of unsupported attack ads paid for by the Republican Party of New Mexico.

What was the difference between the two races? The Democratic Legislative Caucus helped Kathleen Cates. Ramon’s district was almost entirely in Rio Rancho, while Kathleen’s was in Rio Rancho, Corrales, and Bernalillo County.

Tragically, Ramon was forced to strategize on his own after losing first his campaign manager and then his mother during this election cycle. (Our sympathies to Ramon and his family.)

Michelle Sandoval made a big splash in the HD 57 race.

You may remember Billie Helean ran two close races in that district previously, and Michelle followed suit. Michelle finished with 48 percent or 430 votes short. Michelle declared that she will run again in two years. What will be different?  She will have a new baby daughter to take  canvassing! (Congratulations Michelle and Misael!)

What can we learn from the data? First, the election was closer than we wanted or thought it would be. We needed to work hard both to win and to lose by close margins in many races.

Rio Rancho continues to be a problem for Democrats as there are more registered Republicans than Democrats. At last glance, Rio Rancho has two-thirds of the votes in our county (~27k Democrats and ~29k Republicans) but continues to suffer from a lack of volunteers to help win races. If we want meaningful changes in our county, we will need to work twice as hard to win and recruit additional highquality candidates.

These data are unofficial results taken from the Secretary of State’s website by Peter Coha, one of our excellent data gurus. Please keep in mind that these results are not yet certified. The election will be certified on November 29, 2022, and the data will be available to  the Democratic Party of  Sandoval County around midDecember.

After these data are certified, the real work to prepare for the 2024 election will begin.

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