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AP New Mexico

District attorney in Alec Baldwin's case wins New Mexico Democratic primary race

Brenda Wilvert, of Sandia Park, casts her ballot at Tijeras City Hall in Tijeras, New Mexico, on Tuesday. Jon Austria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP
Republicans who backed Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election won two state Senate primaries

SANTA FE – An incumbent district attorney pursuing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin fended off a Democratic challenger in New Mexico's primary election on Tuesday to ensure her reelection.

In other results, two Republicans who have stoked Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election won GOP nominations for state Senate, advancing to competitive general election contests. And Democrats ousted a state senator accused of sexual harassment as voters picked their partisan favorites to reshape a Democratic-led Legislature, with all 112 seats up for election in November.

The votes in the first Senate election since redistricting in 2021 hold implications for Native American communities, the state's oil industry and the #MeToo movement.

New Mexico has a closed primary system that limits participation to voters who register with major parties, leaving out Independent or unaffiliated voters, but not Libertarians.

Native American influence

Native American candidates made inroads toward greater representation in the Legislature with victories in two closely watched Democratic primaries.

In Senate District 30, activist Angel Charley of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women won the Democratic nomination against pro-business, socially conservative former Sen. Clemente Sanchez in a redrawn district with more Native American influence.

Charley is Diné, with Laguna and Zuni Pueblo ancestry. There are no Republican contenders in the district stretching from Isleta Pueblo near Albuquerque to the Arizona state line, traversing Acoma and Laguna pueblos.

In House District 69, incumbent Democratic Rep. Harry Garcia of Grants lost his bid for a fifth term. Attorney Michelle “Paulene” Abeyta of To'hajiilee on the Navajo Nation won the nomination for a district where two-thirds of registered voters identify as Native American. Abeyta has no Republican competition in the general election.

Jeff Van Der Mey displays his voting sticker after he and his wife Pat Van Der Mey cast their ballots in Bernalillo on Tuesday. Susan Montoya Bryan/AP Photo
Alec Baldwin

District attorneys withstood primary challengers in crime-weary Albuquerque, as well as in Santa Fe, where special prosecutors are preparing to bring Alec Baldwin to trial in July on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

In a vote of confidence, incumbent Santa Fe-based District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies defeated former district attorney Marco Serna. Carmack-Altwies has vowed to hold Baldwin accountable for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

In Albuquerque, incumbent District Attorney Sam Bregman, an appointee of the governor, ran successfully for the Democratic nomination, defeating Damon Martinez, who served as U.S. Attorney for New Mexico under President Barack Obama.

#MeToo movement

The Democratic primary in Senate District 15 provided a reckoning over allegations of sexual harassment.

Democratic voters in the Albuquerque district ousted state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and bullying behavior towards women that he disputed. A complaint about his consulting work for county clerks and possible conflicts of interest was dismissed in May.

Progressive challenger Heather Berghmans prevailed in the primary to compete in November against GOP contender Craig Degenhardt. The district extends from the intersection of Interstates 25 and 40 toward the city's northeastern heights.

At the same time in House District 18, progressive activist and lobbyist Marianna Anaya prevailed in a four-way Democratic primary in a district with no GOP contenders. Anaya previously accused Ivey-Soto of groping her at a hotel reception in 2015. Ivey-Soto said he has no recollection of touching Anaya. The eastern Albuquerque district straddles I-40.

Oil region

Republicans were competing in politically conservative regions of the state as oil-industry advocates and conservative standard-bearers.

In Senate District 42, Oilman and state Rep. Larry Scott of Hobbs defeated rancher and recently appointed state Sen. Steve McCutcheon of Carlsbad for control of a Senate district in the heart of southeastern New Mexico's oil economy. McCutcheon was tapped by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last year to succeed retired state Sen. Gay Kernan.

In an overlapping House District 62, three Republicans from Hobbs are vying to succeed Scott without competition from Democrats – Elaine Sena Cortez, Debra Hicks and attorney D'Nae Robinett Mills.

Conspiracists

Republicans who backed Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election won primary races in two state Senate districts.

In District 12, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block of Rio Rancho won the GOP nomination, defeating former state Sen. Candace Gould. He'll run against Democrat Phillip Ramirez of Albuquerque in November in the compact urban district. Block voted twice as a commissioner in 2022 against certifying local election results while stoking doubts about election integrity.

In District 9, Audrey Trujillo of Corrales won the GOP nomination for an open seat after running unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2022. Trujillo has cheered Trump's efforts to reverse the will of voters in 2020. She'll compete in the general election against Democratic nominee Cindy Nava of Bernalillo, who on Tuesday defeated Heather Balas of Corrales in a district stretching from Bernalillo to Algodones, including portions of Sandia Pueblo.

Incumbents challenged

More than 20 incumbents have primary challengers.

In Senate District 13, incumbent state Sen. Bill O'Neill of Albuquerque was competing for the Democratic nomination in a heavily redrawn district against another seasoned politician – Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley. The district includes downtown Albuquerque.

In Senate District 3, incumbent Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi on the Navajo Nation prevailed over Democratic challenger Sherylene Yazzie of Coyote Canyon in a decisive primary contest. Pinto succeeded her grandfather, John Pinto, a World War II Navajo Code Talker and the state's longest-serving senator. The northwestern district includes parts of the Navajo Nation and Gallup.

Voters check in with poll workers at a voting location in Bernalillo, on Tuesday. New Mexico voters are picking their partisan favorites in Tuesday's primary to reshape a Democratic-led Legislature, with all 112 seats up for election in November. Susan Montoya Bryan/AP Photo