On Friday, the Washington Post published an article claiming New Mexico is “a model” for Democrats to win elections, pointing to the Hispanic Democrats elected statewide and in the composition of the state Legislature.
First-term Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who was elected on the coattails of his father, former state representative and Speaker of the New Mexico House Ben Luján, claimed Democrats “showed up in places that Republicans usually don’t have to worry about showing up.” He claimed, “It’s how I was raised. It’s how dad did it. It was part of our strategy when we were successful before — you need to go talk to folks.”
The senator, who was previously the assistant House speaker, never showed up in New Mexico during most of his congressional tenure. Instead, in election years such as 2018, he wasn’t even spotted on Election Day in the state, opting to be in Washington, D.C., with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
In the article, Democrats tried to paint New Mexico as the model for other states to elect Democrats, with state Rep. Javier Martínez (D-Bernalillo) claiming the recent tenure of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez from 2011 to 2019 was a fluke. He said Martinez was able to “break through the ranks and able to appeal to a wider range of voters.” He said now that Republicans’ “nominees have been candidates that do not relate to large enough numbers of voters.”
Luján hinted in the article at his own ambitions to run for Senate leadership, taking after former Sen. Dennis Chavez.
The Washington Post article noted, “The first Hispanic senator, Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, a Republican, was elected in 1928. The second was Dennis Chavez, a Democrat, who Luján said he tries to emulate, a sign that his goal is moving into Democratic leadership. Chavez was the fourth ranking Democrat when he died in office in 1962.”
Others claim Republicans running in New Mexico are “extremists,” and that is how they have not been able to win in recent years, despite recent nominees, such as Mark Ronchetti for governor, being moderate.