New Mexico Voters Elect Historic Number of Pro-Conservation Women and People of Color
By Michael Jensen, Communications Director
The 2020 election was historic. More than 912,000 votes were cast, representing the highest raw vote total in state history. New Mexican voters elected more women, more people of color, and more conservation leaders into office than at any other time in the state’s history. Come January, there will be 37 women in the House, representing over 50% of the members for the first time. Harold Pope Jr. won his campaign for Senate district 23, becoming the first Black Senator in the state’s history.
These firsts at the state level were mirrored at the federal level. New Mexico now has a Congressional House delegation made up entirely of women of color and, with Senator-elect Ben Ray Lujan’s victory, New Mexico is sending a Congressional delegation with four people of color. This accomplishment has brought New Mexico into the national spotlight.
Conservation Voters New Mexico, through its coordinated political action committee CVNM Action Fund, endorsed a record number of candidates for the 2020 general election: 73 candidates for the state Legislature, three candidates for Grant County Commission, and two candidates for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). The Action Fund also endorsed a “yes” vote on the Constitutional Amendment calling for an appointed PRC Commission, which did pass. For the state House, 36 of 44 endorsed candidates won, an 82% victory rate. In the Senate, 25 of 29 endorsed candidates won, an 86% win rate. Among the winning candidates who were not incumbents, six were elected to the House and six to the Senate.
New Mexico voters elected candidates with strong conservation values who will step up and strengthen New Mexico’s role as a leader in the transition to a clean energy economy and protection of our air, land, water, and wildlife. Although four of CVNM Action Fund endorsed Senate candidates lost, they each pushed out powerful conservative incumbents in the primaries breaking up a long held conservative coalition and creating an opening for passage of more pro-conservation legislation.
Even though the state has severe budget restrictions in place because of the collapse of oil and gas revenue, New Mexico lawmakers are now more likely to support innovative legislation to protect public lands and the environment while diversifying and strengthening our economy.
With passage of the PRC reform amendment, we are excited about the potential of the PRC to implement the transformative Energy Transition Act in ways that will open new possibilities for a renewable energy economy. CVNM and our allies will be attentive to ensuring that the PRC works to mitigate possible impacts on low-income families and to provide a pathway to a just transition for workers and communities affected by the move away from oil and gas, which is being driven by market forces, the mandate of the ETA, and growing concern about climate change and disruption.
New Mexicans care deeply about conservation issues and values across social, cultural, geographic and economic diversity. Repeated polling shows overwhelming support for protecting air and water quality, protecting public lands against resource extraction, and dealing with climate change, especially through a turn toward renewable energy development.
Moving forward, it is imperative that we come together to work toward a healthier future for all New Mexicans. We have a window of opportunity for action right here at home to mitigate the climate crisis, protect the health of our people, and strengthen our economy.