Four Democratic incumbents running for reelection in New Mexico’s top statewide judicial races held sizeable leads over their Republican challengers Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.
The four, two on the state Supreme Court and two state Court of Appeals judges, faced partisan elections as appointees of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over the past two years. They will serve eight-year terms.
According to unofficial results, Democratic state Supreme Court Justice Julie Vargas had 53% of the vote, with family law attorney Thomas C. Montoya of Albuquerque at 47%. State Supreme Court Justice Briana H. Zamora had 54% of the vote, with 45% for Republican Kerry J. Morris, a former assistant district attorney and private attorney.
In the race for Court of Appeals position 1, incumbent Gerald Edward Baca, a former state district judge from Las Vegas, New Mexico, who was appointed in 2021, had 51% of the vote, according to the unofficial tally, while Republican challenger Barbara V. Johnson, a family law lawyer in Albuquerque, was at 44%. Libertarian Sophie I. Cooper trailed with 5% as a write-in candidate for the seat.
Another Lujan Grisham appointee, Katherine Anne Wray, led with 51% in the race to keep her seat on the 10-member Court of Appeals, the state’s busiest appellate court. She faced trial attorney and prosecutor Gertrude Lee, a Republican, who had 43%, according to unofficial results. Lee is a member of the Navajo Nation who has worked as a trial attorney and prosecutor in Farmington. She also served as the chief prosecutor of the Navajo Nation. Libertarian Stephen P. Curtis was also a candidate for the seat and had 6%.
Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court in December 2020, Vargas served on the Court of Appeals after being elected to the seat in 2016. She previously spent 23 years in private practice.
Zamora, a former state district court judge, was on the state Court of Appeals when she was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 2021.
Two incumbents on the appellate courts faced judicial retention election races on Tuesday.
New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Michael E. Vigil had to stand for retention after his election to the state Supreme Court in 2018. New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Jane B. Yohalem also faced a retention election after being elected in 2020. Under New Mexico law, they must receive 57% voter approval to continue in their current positions but had at least 68%, according to unofficial results.
In Bernalillo County, nine state district court judges, all Democrats, had no opposition in Tuesday’s general election.