ALBUQUERQUE — Minute after minute, race after race, the disaster for the New Mexico Republican Party just got worse.
It lost the battle for governor.
And secretary of state.
And state auditor. And treasurer. And attorney general. And land commissioner. And a spot on the Supreme Court, not to mention seats on the Court of Appeals.
And oh, yeah: The GOP also dropped a variety of legislative seats that once could be counted on to stay red, even in the toughest of times.
You get the idea — the state GOP on Tuesday night experienced losses that even the most pessimistic Republican couldn’t have figured on. Although Republican Yvette Herrell was leading her race against Xochitl Torres Small in Southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District late in the evening, most other contests of any importance reflected a Democratic tsunami that hadn’t been seen in years — and represented an almost complete reversal of events from Election Day 2014, when state Republicans took the majority of seats in the House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 60 years.
The blue streak Tuesday continued elsewhere, including the House of Representatives, where at least six seats flipped from Republican to Democrat, tipping that legislative body further into Democratic hands.
Republican supporters who crowded one of the ballrooms at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque for an Election Day celebration watched national results play out on large video screens broadcasting Fox News throughout the evening. Attendees cheered and applauded when they heard that Republicans experienced some wins across the nation — and celebrated with news that the U.S. Senate would remain in Republican control.
But by 8:30 p.m., as it became clear Democrats were leading in most statewide races, the mood of the evening became clear.
Ryan Cangiolosi, chairman of the state’s Republican Party, acknowledged Democrats “totally outspent us” in a number of political campaigns, including the governor’s race and races for the U.S. House
“The thing is, we had a historical turnout of voters for both Republicans and Democrats,” he said, shortly after Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for governor, conceded to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham around 9:30 p.m.. “But an energized Democrat base led to what we see tonight.”
And the parade continued: Voters returned Democrat Martin Heinrich to the U.S. Senate by a wide margin over little-known Mick Rich, a Republican, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, once a Republican governor of the state.
When Deb Haaland defeated Republican Janice Arnold-Jones for the 1st Congressional District seat, and Democrat Ben Ray Lujan was returned to Washington for another term as the congressman from the 3rd Congressional District, the writing was on the wall.
Democrats had long boasted their ground game was simply unmatched, with a precision canvassing operation and plenty of people out knocking on doors, making phone calls and getting out the vote. It’s also likely the backlash against President Trump’s administration, widely unpopular in New Mexico according to the polls, played a role when voters cast ballots, though Cangiolosi said he did not think that was the case.
Rather, he said, going back some 30 years, New Mexicans have alternated between electing Democratic and Republican governors for two terms of four years each, and Tuesday’s results may just be a continuation of that tradition.
That, of course, is one way to look at it. But by 10:30 p.m., the Republican ballroom was nearly empty, and there was not much to console a Republican.
As the night ended, two people wearing GOP stickers walked out of the ballroom.
“It’s gonna be all right,” one said.
“No, it’s not,” replied the other.