Things to know about the 2020 races


June 5, 2019

Sunday was June 2. By itself, that doesn’t sound important, and it’s probably not unless that’s your birthday or anniversary.

But in 2020, it’s safe to say June 2 will be important for New Mexicans. That’s the day of the primary elections, with plenty to be decided for Congress.

Of course, there will be the presidential race between incumbent Donald Trump and whoever emerges from the Democratic Party field, and plenty of county and state legislative races will be decided. But many of the known candidates are running for Congress, with 14 candidates already declared more than a year out from primaries.

All three of New Mexico’s House seats and one of its Senate seats will be on the ballot. Two of those four seats will be without an incumbent, as Tom Udall is retiring from the Senate and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is among the field running to succeed him.

Statewide, all four spots are currently held by Democrats — Udall in the Senate, Rep. Deb Haaland in House District 1, Xochitl Torres-Small in District 2 and Lujan in District 3.

Curry and Roosevelt counties are in District 3, while a southern portion of Roosevelt County is part of District 2.

Nationally, Democrats hold a 235-200 House majority, with all 435 seats up for election. Republicans hold a 53-45 advantage in the Senate with two independents. There are 34 seats up for election, with Republicans defending 22 and Democrats defending 12.

The 2020 general election is Nov. 3.


Four are running to succeed Udall — Lujan, Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Giovanni Haqani in the Democratic Party, and Gavin Clarkson in the Republican Primary.

Lujan is in his sixth term in the House of Representatives, where he currently serves as assistant House speaker. He was on the New Mexico Public Regulation Committee from 2005 to 2008.

Oliver is the current secretary of state. She won election to the position in 2016 against Nora Espinoza and served the final two years of the term following Dianna Duran’s resignation. She won re-election last year, defeating Clarkson in the general election. She previously served as the Bernalillo county clerk.

Haqani has operated several small businesses in the Albuquerque metro area, and from 2012 to 2014 produced the “Local National Global” non-partisan political television program. He has not held public office, but did run for the state House District 20 seat in 2016.

Clarkson has not held elected office, but has served in the Trump Administration in the Department of the Interior. He managed the office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and the Office of Self-Governance.

House, District 2

Torres-Small is the incumbent in the race for District 2, the largest district by area in the country that does not encompass an entire state. There are currently no challengers in the Democratic field, while the Republican Party includes Yvette Herrell and Chris Mathys.

She was a field representative for Udall, and served as a federal law clerk. She won election to the seat last year over Herrell in a race that wasn’t decided until absentee ballots were counted.

Herrell served three terms in the New Mexico House for District 51. Herrell announced her 2020 run soon after Torres-Small was sworn into office. She has anticipated another close race with Herrell should she win the Republican primary.

Mathys is a real estate broker and general contractor and owns businesses in two states — Mathys Properties in Las Cruces and Oro Financial in Fresno, California, where he once served on the city council. He ran for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission in 2018, losing by 27 votes to Ben Hall in the Republican primary.

House, District 3

There are eight currently running to succeed Lujan, seven Democrats and one Republican — sort of.

Brett Kokinadis is running in the Republican primary, though he is the founder of New Mexico Democrats for Democracy.

Running in the Democratic primary are Rob Apodaca, Dineh Benally, Gavin Kaiser, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Valerie Plame, Joseph Sanchez and Marco Serna.

Apodaca owns the Motiva Corporation consulting firm in Santa Fe. He served as assistant chief of the West for the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration.

Benally is the president of the Navajo Nation Farm Board.

Kaiser is the founder and executive director of the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments.

Leger Fernandez is a Santa Fe attorney. She served as a White House liaison with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Urban Development under President Clinton, and served on the President’s Advisory Council for Historic Preservation during the Obama administration.

Sanchez represents District 40 in the New Mexico House of Representatives and is an engineering manager for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Serna is the district attorney for the 1st Judicial District in Santa Fe.

Plame is a former operations officer with the CIA, and was the subject of the 2003 Plame affair when her identity as a covert officer was leaked to the Washington Post.


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