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Strong Conservation Candidates Win in NM’s 2016 Primary Election

By June 8, 2016November 29th, 2022Campaigns & Elections, Press Releases

Santa Fe, N.M. – Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), via its coordinated political action committee CVNM Action Fund (CVNMAF), continues to build power for our environment in the Land of Enchantment by electing pro-conservation candidates who will work to protect our air, land, water and the health of our communities. Eleven out of 12 candidates that CVNMAF endorsed for primary election were successful in their races. Five candidates won their primary races and do not face general election challengers, as of June 8, and will serve their constituents in the legislature and Public Regulation Commission (PRC) in 2017.
“The 2016 primary election shows that having a strong conservation record pays off for candidates in New Mexico. This is evident in the case of conservation champions like Rep. Jeff Steinborn and Liz Stefanics advancing their careers in public service and in keeping champions like Senators Mimi Stewart and Benny Shendo and Rep. Doreen Johnson in office,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Political and Legislative Director. “CVNM is excited to support and invest in successful candidates who will work to bring resiliency and sustainability to their communities.”
CVNM and CVNMAF engage in a thorough endorsement process and endorse 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.
New Mexico House of Representatives
HD 5: Rep. Doreen W. Johnson – Win
Rep. Doreen Johnson had an outstanding first year in the state legislature in 2015, earning a perfect 100% score in CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard. She followed up with a strong voting year in 2016. Rep. Johnson does not face a general election challenger and we look forward to working alongside her to address the complex environmental and health issues in her district. Rep. Johnson defeated Kevin Mitchell, Sandra Jeff’s 2014 campaign manager.
HD 25: Rep. Christine Trujillo – Win
Rep. Christine Trujillo owns an outstanding 91% score in CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard over her four years in the state legislature. She does not face a general election challenger and will continue to serve as a consistent conservation vote in a legislative body that has not been friendly to conservation issues in recent years.
HD 35: Angelica Rubio – Win
Rubio’s qualifications and experience make her an outstanding choice to represent House District 35. A native New Mexican raised in Lake Arthur, Rubio has a deeply ingrained understanding and passion for the issues, particularly those issues relating to environmental justice and environmental racism. This is the seat that will be vacated by conservation champion Rep. Jeff Steinborn, so it was vitally important to get a strong conservation voice to replace him. Rubio fits the bill and must be considered a rising star in the House of Representatives and New Mexico politics.
HD 48: Paul Campos – Loss
Paul Campos’s record of championing conservation causes as a member of the Sante Fe County Commission made him an outstanding conservation choice for this seat. Our thanks go to Paul for having the courage to step up and run to represent his district. We’re looking forward to working with Linda Trujillo. She will be a strong voice and will represent her constituent’s conservation values well.
Grant County Commission
District 3: Alicia Edwards – Win
District 4: Marilyn Alcorn – Win
District 5: Harry Browne – Win
All three CVNM Action Fund endorsees in Grant County won their races by hundreds of votes. CVNM and CVNM Action Fund looks forward to elevating their voices for conservation as they each face general election challengers.
New Mexico Senate
SD 17: Sen. Mimi Stewart – Win

Sen. Stewart is a proven conservation champion. She holds an outstanding 99% lifetime score in CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard in the state legislature, and has been a leader in developing the renewable energy industry in the state of New Mexico. She is a passionate, knowledgeable and indispensable conservation voice in the Senate, and her re-election is a win for clean air and healthy families in New Mexico. Sen. Stewart does not face a general election challenger, as of June 8, and will continue representing Senate District 17 in 2017.
SD 22: Sen. Benny Shendo – Win
Sen. Shendo has been a very promising conservation ally for environmental groups in the State Capitol in recent years. His opponent in this primary was Sandra Jeff. Jeff has been a disastrous vote for conservation issues in the past and was nominated to LCV’s “Dirty Dozen in the States” in 2014 and 2016. “Dirty Dozen in the States” targets the most anti-environment state-level candidates in the country. Sen. Shendo’s promising upward trend combined with Jeff’s anti-conservation history made him the clear conservation choice in this race. Sen. Shendo does not face a general election challenger and will continue representing Senate District 22 in 2017.
SD 36: Rep. Jeff Steinborn – Win
In his eight years in the New Mexico House of Representatives, Rep. Steinborn demonstrated that he was one of the most knowledgeable and consistent voices for conservation in that body. On the way to a 98% lifetime score in CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard, Rep. Steinborn has emerged as a voice of expertise on a broad range of frequently very complex environmental issues. He’ll immediately be one of the leading conservation voices in the State Senate. Rep. Steinborn’s win is a clear example of how having a strong conservation record pays off in New Mexico.
SD 39: Liz Stefanics – Win
CVNM and CVNM Action Fund’s endorsement of Liz Stefanics came primarily on the strength of her record as a Santa Fe County Commissioner. On the county commission, Stefanics’ voting record demonstrates strong support for the entire range of conservation issues. On conservation issues, Stefanics is the clear choice, and has the potential to be a knowledgeable and consistent vote for conservation in the State Senate.
New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
District 1: Cynthia Hall – Win
In the course of CVNM and CVNM Action Fund’s endorsement process, Cynthia Hall demonstrated easy understanding of energy issues in the state, as well as a granular understanding of the PRC’s operations and role. She’s clear in her commitment to renewable energy, and articulate in her vision of how it should grow in the state. Commissioner Karen Montoya has been an inconsistent conservation vote, and has been unable to shake persistent ethical questions about her relationship with PNM during her tenure. Hall’s upset of incumbent Commissioner Montoya is a win for clean air and utility accountability. Hall will be a consistent and knowledgeable presence on the PRC. As of June 8, Hall does not face a general election challenger.
Conservation Qualified Races
At CVNM, we consider it our duty to help identify which candidate in each race represents the clear conservation choice. In some races, there are multiple candidates that would be strong conservation choices, but no single clear conservation choice. Historically, CVNMAF has simply not endorsed in those races. This year, we utilized a new designation: Conservation Qualified. Conservation Qualified candidates are those who have submitted strong questionnaires and have demonstrated knowledge of, and commitment to conservation values. Our analysis shows that the following races have multiple candidates that are conservation qualified:
HD 21: Conservation Qualified (Lechuga-Tena, Sarinana)
Both Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena and Debbie Sarinana performed very well in our evaluation process for endorsement. Sarinana won this race and will serve conservation voters in House District 21 well in the legislature in 2017.
HD 38: Conservation Qualified (Hotvedt, Whitlock)
Both Karen Whitlock and Mary Hotvedt showed very well in our evaluation process, demonstrating firm commitment to, and understanding of, conservation issues. We’re extremely encouraged to see multiple strong conservation candidates emerge in a legislative district that has several important environmental issues at play, such as the Gila River diversion project, and copper mine related water concerns. As of June 8, Hotvedt is up by only 31 votes and this race may require an automatic recount. No matter the outcome, a conservation candidate will win in House District 38.
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.


Contact: Liliana Castillo, 575-219-9619 or