New Mexico may be on track to achieve another Democratic “trifecta” after the 2018 election cycle.
A state government trifecta happens when a single political party has control of the governor’s seat and the majority in both chambers of the state legislature— in this case, the N.M. House of Representatives and the N.M. Senate.
“If history is any guide, we’ll probably elect a Democratic governor, and I don’t see the environment leading to the Republicans taking over the house,” said Timothy Krebs, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico.
A recent poll done by the Albuquerque Journal would support Krebs’ analysis. The poll reported that Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham was leading Republican Steve Pearce in the NM Governor’s race, 50 percent to 43 percent— although 7 percent of poll respondents did not indicate a preference. The poll was taken two months ahead of election day, the week of Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, New Mexico is holding elections for every seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
No seats in the N.M. State Senate are up for election this year. After the last election cycle in 2016, Democrats maintained a majority. The New Mexico Senate has had a Democratic majority for at least 25 years.
The state is familiar with state government trifectas. Out of the past 25 years, the democrats were in majority control of both chambers of the New Mexico legislature and the governors position during 11 of them.
Krebs noted several factors which can affect the outcome and partisanship of state legislative races. These include the popularity of a president, the national political climate and state of the economy.
“It tends to be that the party that doesn’t win the presidency is a little bit more frustrated, a little bit more mobilized to avenge that defeat if you will,” Krebs said. “And so they work considerably harder in that first midterm than perhaps the other party.”
Krebs said that while the Republicans could benefit from the improving economy, the unpopularity of President Donald Trump “can be a drag on the ticket.” President Trump’s approval rating in September is 38 percent according to Gallup Poll.
Republicans were in majority control of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 2014 to 2016. Also, the state has had two, two-term Republican governors in the past 25 years.
New Mexico News Port reached out to Minority Leader of the New Mexico House of Representatives but did not receive a response. Gentry is not running for re-election in the 2018 general election.
“I don’t see any path that gives (the republicans) the realistic opportunity of winning majority,” said Brian Egolf, New Mexico Speaker of the House. “Our candidates are excellent. Our incumbent members have accomplished a lot over the last two years.”
Brian Egolf has been a democratic member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from the 47th district in Santa Fe country since 2009. He was made New Mexico Speaker of the House in 2017. Egolf is running unopposed in his district in 2018.
Egolf served during the last two years of the democratic trifecta under former Governor Bill Richardson before Governor Susana Martinez took office in 2011.
He said that a lot of what the New Mexico House was working on was vetoed under Governor Martinez, a contrast to serving under Richardson. This pattern could persist if Republican gubernatorial candidate, and former U.S. Representative for New Mexico, Steve Pearce, was elected.
“We would hope that if he does get elected, he would take a different course than his congressional voting record would suggest,” Egolf said.
He said he “feels very optimistic” that Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Michelle Lujan Grisham will be elected to the New Mexico Governor’s seat and the democrats will increase their majority in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Egolf is currently traveling to primarily republican parts of the state to see what issues New Mexicans want to be addressed in the next legislative session.
“We are really going to be looking forward to the new chapter starting January,” Egolf said.
Makayla Grijalva can be contacted on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria.