SANTA FE ― Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), via its political action committees CVNM Action Fund and CVNM Verde Voters Fund, continues to build a strong political voice for New Mexico’s environment by electing pro-conservation candidates who will work to protect our air, land, water and the health of our communities.
Eight of twelve statewide, Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and State House of Representative candidates that CVNM Action Fund endorsed for primary election were successful in their races. Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (HD 13), Susan Herrera (HD 41) and Andrea Romero (HD 46) do not face general election challengers and, pending final official results, will serve their constituents in the legislature in 2019.
CVNM invested heavily in primary races up and down the ballot, implementing our largest primary electoral program in the organization’s history. Despite last minute investments in anti-conservation candidates by oil and gas corporations and PNM, pro-conservation candidates won the majority of their races.
The 2018 primary election shows that having a strong conservation record, platform and vision pays off for candidates in New Mexico. New Mexicans are ready to bring change to our state and that was clear as incumbents in the PRC and House of Representatives where defeated by new, progressive voices.
“CVNM strategically engages in the electoral process because who we elect matters for the future of New Mexico’s air, land, water and communities,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Political and Legislative Director. “Our plan to engage early and big in New Mexico’s 2018 primary election paid off. Candidates who care about our environment connected with voters and won because of it and conservation issues were at the center of races statewide.”
For example, Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, who CVNM Action Fund endorsed for Governor early in the fall of 2017, has prioritized the environment and renewable energy in her platform and won with 66% of the vote. Of note, she won in nearly every single New Mexico county. Rep. Lujan Grisham is the first progressive Latina in the nation to win a gubernatorial office nomination.
“We’re so proud to see how strongly Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham performed in the primary election,” Shelton said. “New Mexican voters want a fighter on their side in the Governor’s office and they chose Rep. Lujan Grisham. Rep. Lujan Grisham has the experience and vision to transform our state and ensure that our conservation and cultural values for protecting our air, land and water guide our decision-makers and public policy. New Mexico voters will have a clear choice in November between a progressive visionary with plans for change and a far-right extremist industry pawn.”
The Commissioner of Public Lands race, along with several House races, demonstrate that New Mexicans want women in leadership positions. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard won narrowly over Garrett VeneKlasen, CVNM Action Fund’s endorsee.
“We thank Mr. VeneKlasen for making the Commissioner of Public Lands race about public lands, methane waste capture, renewable energy, eco-tourism and recreation. The robust contest between Mr. VeneKlasen and Rep. Garcia Richard elevated the State Land Office race for New Mexico voters, bringing this unique elected office to the forefront like never before. Rep. Garcia Richard ran a strong campaign and we’re committed to helping her continue to put conservation values at the forefront of this race and office”
Some of the biggest wins of the night were in the New Mexico House of Representatives. We won six of our eight endorsed races in the House. Oil and gas corporations and PNM invested heavily in four key races and lost all of them. In House District 41, House Business and Industry Committee Chair Debbie Rodella was defeated by CVNM Action Fund endorsed candidate Susan Herrera. In House District 46, incumbent Representative Carl Trujillo was unseated by CVNM Action Fund endorsed progressive candidate Andrea Romero 53 percent to 47 percent. In Albuquerque’s House District 13, conservation champion and CVNM Action Fund endorsee Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero defeated anti-conservation challengers and won 48 percent to 31 percent in a three-way race. In House District 33 in Las Cruces, progressive candidate and CVNM Action Fund endorsee Micaela Lara Cadena won with 54 percent in a three-way race.
In addition, conservation champion Rep. Doreen Gallegos won her race in House District 52 and our endorsed candidate Willie Madrid will challenge incumbent Ricky Little in House District 53.
“CVNM’s focus is to support New Mexicans to use their political power to ensure our public policies represent our values and much of this work happens in the New Mexico Legislature. Moving into the general election, CVNM’s work on behalf of conservation candidates has bolstered the conservation performance of the Democratic caucus in the House. There are exciting new progressive voices headed to the House in 2019, reflecting the increasing progressive trends in northern New Mexico,” Shelton said.
In PRC District 5, CVNM Action Fund endorsee Steve Fischmann defeated incumbent Commissioner Sandy Jones. CVNM Verde Voters Fund, CVNM’s affiliated independent expenditure political action committee, invested $107,299 in television and digital advertising in this race.
“CVNM Verde Voters Fund made a distinct difference in this race and Steve Fischmann had a decisive victory. If he is successful in November, Fischmann will secure a pro-conservation majority on the Public Regulation Commission, ensuring that New Mexican values for protecting our environment for future generations is reflected in the PRC’s energy policies. Southern New Mexico is hugely supportive of solar energy and we’re confident he will reflect that in his role on the commission,” Shelton continued.
In Public Regulation Commission District 4, CVNM Action Fund backed Janene Yazzie, who lost narrowly.
“We are tremendously encouraged by Janene Yazzie’s leadership and grassroots campaign,” Shelton said. “Janene is a young, progressive rising star who will continue to organize and create change in her community. She might not have won this race, but she’s not going anywhere. We’re excited to support her as her career continues to grow.”
CVNM engages in a thorough endorsement process and endorses candidates based on their conservation records and responses to a questionnaire on topics including environmental justice, environmental health, quality of life, energy, water, land use, transportation, wildlife and wilderness.
Outcomes for each race CVNM Action Fund endorsed in:
Rep Michelle Lujan Grisham – win
Commissioner of Public Lands
Garrett VeneKlasen – loss
New Mexico House of Representatives
House District 13: Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero – win
House District 33: Micaela Cadena – win
House District 40: Paula Garcia – loss
House District 41: Susan Herrera – win
House District 43: Pete Sheehey – loss
House District 46: Andrea Romero – win
House District 52: Rep. Doreen Gallegos – win
House District 53: Willie A. Madrid – win
New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
District 4: Janene Yazzie – loss
District 5: Steve Fischmann – win
CVNM is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land, and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. CVNM does this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding elected officials accountable, and advancing responsible public policies.