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Questions for the Blue Majority (and Red Minority) in New Mexico


On this election day, a majority of New Mexico voters apparently ignored the state’s apparent government errors. Instead, voters prioritized abortion rights while punishing anyone who could plausibly be portrayed as an “election denier.”

New Mexico, for decades one of the “bluest” states in America, became even more democratically dominant. Democrats now control all major offices in state government and all five seats in Congress.

Whether the results are a sign of satisfaction with the status quo or just animosity towards Republicans, the fact is that New Mexico’s ruling Democrats face serious challenges. Here are some that need to be addressed over the next few months:

  • PNM (the state’s largest utility) has repeatedly raised concerns about having enough power in the summer of 2022. The San Juan Generating Station coal-fired power plant was allowed to remain operational for another three months last summer amid fears of power outages and brownouts. That won’t be an option next summer. In fact, the power situation in New Mexico hasn’t improved much since then. What will the government, their new PRC and the legislature do to keep the lights on for New Mexicans? Waiting until next summer’s heat is not an option. Decisions must be made immediately.
  • Speaking of the PRC, the government now has a chance to make New Mexico’s powerful regulator its choice. Will she prioritize geographic and ideological diversity, or make the body the hallmark of her Californian politics? And will they push through the merger of Avangrid and PNM (opposed by the elected PRC but supported by the government) as one of their first acts?
  • New Mexico is one of only 11 states remaining in a COVID-19 emergency. It has been in an “emergency” since March 2020 (more than 2.5 years at this point). Will the new legislature require a “seat at the table” or continue to allow the government to remain in control until it sees fit? What does this mean for “democracy”?

  • Voters passed Amendment 1, which taps New Mexico’s permanent fund to boost education spending. With an expected surplus of $2.5 billion, spending on education is likely to grow even further. The state’s most recent NAEP results ranked New Mexico low in all four grade levels and subjects tested. Will New Mexico simply continue to increase spending on education, or will necessary reforms be implemented?

  • Speaking of budget surplus, the government and legislature made a series of tax cuts in the 2022 session in anticipation of the election. Can New Mexico taxpayers expect more tax breaks? If so, will these tax cuts be superficial in nature, or will they address the government’s tricky economic challenges like the “pyramiding” of the gross receipts tax?

Most of these questions are aimed at the (even more so) rising Democratic majority in New Mexico, but there’s a question for the GOP: what can be done to improve voter turnout (and overall political engagement) in the most conservative areas of New Mexico to increase? Overall turnout was 52 percent. In liberal Santa Fe County, that number was over 63 percent. But in conservative bastions like Lea, Eddy, Chaves, San Juan, Otero, Curry and Roosevelt counties, turnout lagged the national average, sometimes by double-digit margins.
Many Conservatives feel their vote makes no difference, either because of the state’s “blue” status or allegations of voter fraud. Either way, the New Mexico GOP needs to figure out how to engage its grassroots through grassroots activism in order to be relevant.

No matter which side of the aisle you are on, New Mexicans of all political persuasions face more questions than answers.

Paul Gessing is President of the Rio Grande Foundation in New Mexico. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, impartial, tax-exempt research and education organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility