- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Mexico voters chose more than a governor on Tuesday. They elected a new attorney general and decided to send four incumbents back to Congress. Some other top-ticket races were still too close to call Wednesday morning. Here’s a race-by-race look at this year’s election:


Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall won his second term with a victory over challenger Republican Allen Weh. A longtime businessman and retired Marine colonel, Weh managed to trim Udall’s lead in recent weeks, but it wasn’t enough to unseat the first-term senator. Udall is a popular former attorney general and congressman. Weh is a former state Republican Party chairman who came in second behind Gov. Susana Martinez in the governor’s primary four years ago.


All three incumbents for New Mexico’s congressional seats won re-election. In the 1st Congressional District that covers most of Albuquerque, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham held off a challenge by Republican Mike Frese, a 66-year-old scientist and small business owner from Corrales. For the 3rd District seat, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan beat Republican Jefferson Byrd of Tucumcari. In southern New Mexico, Rep. Steve Pearce fended off a feisty attack from Carlsbad attorney Roxanne “Rocky” Lara and national Democrats to keep his seat.


State Auditor Hector Balderas, considered a rising star in the state Democratic Party, will be moving on to head up the state attorney general’s office with a victory over Republican Susan Riedel, a former prosecutor and judge from Las Cruces. Balderas had stockpiled more money than any other statewide office candidates, except for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.


All 70 House seats were up for election this year, but there were only about three dozen contested races. Republicans were poised early Wednesday to potentially make history by riding the currents of national political discontent to their first legislative majority in 60 years. In early unofficial returns, the GOP was leading in enough races for a possible net gain of four seats in the state House. However, several contests remained very close. Democrats currently hold a 37-33 edge.


In one of the feistier races, Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran won a second term by fending off a strong challenge from Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver. One of the major focuses of the race has been on voter ID. Duran hoped her push for new voter ID measures would put her over the top. Oliver said fraud is rare and requiring voters to have identification would just prevent certain residents from casting ballots.


New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell is locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn. During Powell’s tenure, the state Land Office has generated a record $2.3 billion for state accounts that pay for public schools, hospitals and other projects. Powell says he helped transform a “badly compromised and dysfunctional office” and has worked with oil and gas companies as well as renewable energy developers. But Dunn accuses him of “extreme environmentalism.”


New Mexico Sen. Timothy Keller has been elected state auditor. The Democrat defeated Republican lawyer Robert Aragon on Tuesday in a race that centered on how the auditor’s office should monitor government waste. The Harvard Business School-educated Keller, currently the Senate majority whip, promised to uncover an estimated $900 million of unspent public money and redirect it to state programs. Aragon, a former Democrat and state lawmaker, had promised in his campaign ads to be the voters’ “pit bull” in ferreting out corruption and fraud.


Democrat Tim Eichenberg defeated Republican Rick Lopez to replace state Treasurer James Lewis, who can’t run again because of term limits. Eichenberg, a real estate agent and former state lawmaker, said the treasurer’s office should invest more in New Mexico’s infrastructure to help start construction projects and to create more jobs. He believes the state should acquire more federal lands that could then be leased to create a new revenue source for early childhood education.


The only contested seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is pitting a Republican incumbent against a former Democratic commissioner who was once the panel’s chairman. Ben Hall is seeking re-election to his District 5 seat on the powerful commission that regulates public utilities, telecommunications and insurance companies. He is facing Democrat Sandy Jones.


Voters in two of New Mexico’s most populous counties appear to have endorsed non-binding referendums on decriminalizing marijuana. Unofficial election results showed voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties approved both measures by wide margins. The counties, however, won’t be obligated to follow voters’ final decision.

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