New Mexico election roundup

The Associated Press

Democrat Lewis wins treasurer’s race
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrat James Lewis won a decisive victory over his Republican opponent in the state treasurer’s race, bringing 30 years of government experience to an office that was clouded by scandal.
Lewis, who served as state treasurer two decades ago, said he would begin work immediately, focusing on ethics and improved communications with lawmakers and the public.
“I plan to go to that office and restore integrity,” Lewis told a cheering crowd.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Lewis had nearly 60 percent of the vote, outpacing Republican newcomer Demesia Padilla.

AG’s race was big-spending, hard-hitting
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrat Gary King, whose family has a long history in New Mexico’s Democratic Party, had the lead over Republican political newcomer Jim Bibb in the race for attorney general.
With 44 percent of precincts reporting, King had 54.9 percent of the votes to Bibb’s 45 percent.
King, an ex-lawmaker, and Bibb, a former state and federal prosecutor, each spent more than $1 million in the runup to Tuesday’s general election.
The men were vying to succeed Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who is winding up her second term and couldn’t run for the office again.

Democrats keep hold on state Legislature
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrats appeared certain to keep their firm grasp on the state House of Representatives after Tuesday’s voting.
They outnumbered Republicans 42-28 going in to the general election, and that margin wasn’t expected to change substantially.
Continuing Democratic domination of the Legislature — the party controls the Senate, too — would be a plus for Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, who plans to push an ambitious agenda again in the 2007 legislative session.
No state Senate seats are on the ballot this year.

Lyons holds lead in re-election bid
ALBUQUERUQUE (AP) — Incumbent Republican Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons held a small lead over Democrat Jim Baca as returns trickled in from Tuesday’s general election.
Lyons, seeking a second term, had 52 percent of the vote with 4 percent of the precincts reporting. Baca, trying to regain the job he once held, had 48 percent.
Both said during the campaign that protecting state trust land and the oil and gas revenue generated on the acreage are important parts of the job.
The state land office manages 9 million acres of state trust land and 13 million acres of subsurface rights to oil, gas and minerals for the benefit of public schools, universities and hospitals.

Madrid/Wilson down to wire; Pearce, Udall win easily
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A grueling, often nasty campaign for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District neared its end Tuesday with Patricia Madrid and incumbent Heather Wilson battling down to the wire.
A win for Madrid, New Mexico’s attorney general, would make her the first Democrat to win and the first from either party to unseat an incumbent since the Albuquerque-area district was created in 1968.
But Wilson, a Republican seeking a fifth term, has survived close contests before in her Democratic-leaning district.
Wilson had to overcome public distaste for the war in Iraq and GOP scandals in Congress.
“It is time for change, but you can’t change Washington until you change the people you send to Washington,” Madrid said during the race.
Elsewhere in New Mexico, Republican Steve Pearce earned a third term representing the 2nd District over Democratic challenger Al Kissling and Democrat Tom Udall easily won a fifth term over GOP challenger Ron Dolin in the 3rd District.

Richardson wins re-election bid
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Gov. Bill Richardson easily secured a second four-year term on Tuesday, enjoying strong support across the political spectrum of New Mexico voters.
Richardson, a Democrat, was on course for a possible record-setting showing in his win over Republican John Dendahl.
Richardson’s win in New Mexico was based on a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
Hefty majorities of men and women, Anglos and Hispanics, all age and income groups backed Richardson.
The governor also won the political middle ground. Majorities of moderates and independents favored Richardson. Those groups are considered key swing voters in New Mexico elections. About a third of conservatives defected from Dendahl and backed Richardson, according to the survey of voters as they left polling places across the state.
Richardson, the nation’s only Hispanic governor, ran for re-election at the same time he was laying the potential groundwork for a presidential bid in 2008.
Throughout the campaign, political observers speculated that Richardson wanted to win re-election with an impressive — if not record-setting — showing at the polls in hopes it would reverberate within national Democratic circles if he entered the presidential race.

Bingaman secures fifth term
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman comfortably secured a fifth term Tuesday against an underfunded political newcomer, Republican Allen McCulloch, after what amounted to a low-key race.
“I don’t know all the issues that different people were voting on. The point I tried to make was that there are a lot of challenges in Washington going unaddressed,” Bingaman said. “I have been working and I said I would continue working to address the problems that affect people here in New Mexico.”
He listed health care, improving education and reducing dependence on foreign oil as some of the key topics that connected with voters.
Bingaman’s win in New Mexico was based on a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
A spokesman for McCulloch declined immediate comment, saying it was too early for the challenger to concede anything.
The 63-year-old Bingaman already had been expected to win handily after recent polls showed him favored by as much as 65 percent of likely voters. He was re-elected six years ago with 62 percent, and this time it was just a question of how high the number would go.

Herrera maintains Democrat control of secretary of state
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrat Mary Herrera defeated Republican Vickie Perea in the race for secretary of state, an office the Democrats have held for more than seven decades.
With 87 percent of the precincts counted Tuesday night, Herrera, the Bernalillo County clerk, had 52.9 percent of the vote. Perea, a former Albuquerque city councilor, had 47 percent of the votes.
A Republican has not held the office since 1929.
Herrera cited her years of running elections in arguing that she was the better choice for the job. Perea countered that voters are looking for a fresh face.

Balderas wins auditor race against Garcia
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Democrat Hector Balderas defeated Republican Lorenzo Garcia in a state auditor’s race Tuesday that pitted a pair of candidates who were late entries on the general election ticket.
With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, Balderas, a freshman lawmaker, had 53.6 percent of the vote to 46.3 percent for Garcia, a retired accountant.
Both candidates said during the campaign that the auditor’s work should serve as early alarm system to help detect wrongdoing. They campaigned in the wake of an alleged kickback scheme in the state’s Treasurer’s Office that led to federal charges against two state treasurers.
State agencies, schools, colleges and local governments — from cities and counties to soil and water districts — must undergo yearly financial audits.
These are usually conducted by independent public accountants but their work is reviewed and approved by the auditor’s office before audit reports are publicly released.
The auditor also can conduct special audits or fraud audit if problems surface.