U.S. HOUSE district 1
Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham defeated Republican Janice Arnold-Jones on Tuesday to become the next U.S. House member from central New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.
The former Bernalillo County Commissioner and state Cabinet secretary for health and aging declared victory in the Albuquerque-based district around 9 p.m.
Lujan Grisham on Tuesday called the victory “fantastic,” emphasizing her hope to follow in the footsteps of her cousin, former Republican Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr., who held the 1st Congressional District seat for 20 years through 1989.
“I come from a long line of leaders in this community, and I plan to make that legacy continue,” Lujan Grisham said.
Arnold-Jones congratulated Lujan Grisham on the victory.
“Although I am disappointed with the outcome of the race, I am as optimistic as ever about the ingenuity and determination of New Mexicans to roll up their sleeves and solve the pressing issues facing our country,” Arnold-Jones said in a statement.
Arnold-Jones, a former state representative, had played catch-up to Lujan Grisham since the June 5 primary, constantly trailing the Democrat in the Journal Poll. Political experts say Lujan Grisham established strong name recognition among voters after the close, three-way primary race that involved large amounts of TV advertising.
Meanwhile, Arnold-Jones had no primary election opponent and ran no TV ads during the primary season. Arnold-Jones did not begin airing TV commercials and increasing her name recognition until months later.
By September, a Journal Poll found that Lujan Grisham had established a 12 percentage point lead over her Republican opponent. By early October, Lujan Grisham expanded that lead to 14 percentage points.
Arnold-Jones failed to keep pace with Lujan Grisham in fundraising. Through mid-October, Lujan Grisham had raised more than $1.6 million for her campaign, compared with about $538,000 brought in by Arnold-Jones.
A relative lack of campaign activity in the 1st Congressional District race leading up to Tuesday’s election was distinctly different from the heated campaign Rep. Martin Heinrich waged for re-election against Republican Jon Barela in 2010. Heinrich won that bid by 4 percentage points.
The race between Lujan Grisham and Arnold-Jones was largely defined by a series of three televised debates in October.
In debates, Lujan Grisham tried to make her support for abortion rights and access to contraception a key area of disagreement.
Arnold-Jones, meanwhile, struck an aggressive tone toward Lujan Grisham, criticizing the Democrat for focusing heavily on public health policy and blasting her 16-year record of state government work as evidence of being a “career bureaucrat.”
After the debates, Lujan Grisham expanded her advantage over Arnold-Jones to a 15-point lead, a Journal Poll in late October found.
Journal staff writers Hailey Heinz and Deborah Ziff contributed to this report.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal