Press Releases

New Mexico: Pro-environment women candidates sweep state and local primaries

Jun 5, 2020

Contact: Emily Samsel,, 828-713-9647

Elections, especially at the state and local level, are one of our best tools for bringing about change. This week we are proud that our New Mexico state affiliate’s hard work and investments in State House, Senate, Public Regulation Commission and County Commission primary races led to victories for 19 pro-environment candidates, with a few results still outstanding.

Despite being outspent by Big Oil, Conservation Voters of New Mexico’s endorsed slate of diverse, predominantly female candidates who are committed to addressing climate justice, and the longstanding systemic racism that causes communities of color to disproportionately suffer from exposure to toxic pollution, prevailed over corporate polluter interests.

Check out the below press release for more info on the candidates themselves and how CVNM Verde Voters Fund and CVNM Action Fund’s investment of $458,000 in these races made an impact.

Conservation Voters New Mexico:
Pro-Climate Candidates Sweep Statewide
CVNM efforts overwhelm oil and gas industry candidates

SANTA FE, N.M. – Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), New Mexico’s leading statewide environmental advocacy organization, supported primary election candidates who will significantly shift the state Senate to a dependable pro-climate majority. This will have a profound impact on the New Mexico legislature’s approach to environmental issues and continue to remove the structural impediments to providing an equitable and just society for frontline communities.

“The world has changed dramatically since I decided to run for state senate,” said Siah Correa Hemphill, who decisively defeated Gabriel Ramos in the Senate District 28 Democratic primary. “The oil and gas industry spent thousands of dollars to defeat me, but our message spoke louder than their money. People are ready for change and want our state to invest in our communities. It’s time we put people first.”

In a challenging environment that shut down traditional face-to-face campaigning and led to a dramatic shift to use of absentee ballots, new faces and voices have unseated well-funded long-time anti-conservation state Senators. CVNM, via the independent expenditure political action committee CVNM Verde Voters Fund and coordinated political action committee CVNM Action Fund, invested $458,000 in races across the state, second statewide only to the oil and gas industry PAC, NM Strong. At least seven of the Verde Voters Fund candidates won their races, while some outcomes are still undecided.

“In the face of the national grief and anger at the structural racism in this country, this was an incredibly positive primary outcome,” said Demis Foster, CVNM Executive Director. “The oil and gas industry outspent us by more than $140,000, mostly from out of state corporations and individuals. The candidates we endorsed – people of color, women, educational and health professionals like Pamela Cordova– said “no” to that money and “yes” to a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.”

Overall, nine of 11 state Senate candidates endorsed by CVNM Action Fund have won their races, with one loss (Noreen Kelly in SD 4) and one race still undecided. In addition to Siah Correa Hemphill’s victory over Gabriel Ramos, Pamela Cordova unseated Clemente Sanchez in SD 10, Neomi Martinez-Parra (SD 35) defeated John Arthur Smith, arbiter of New Mexico’s budgets and fiscal policy, and Carrie Hamblen (SD 38) defeated Mary Kay Papen, President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

On the House side, nine of 12 CVNM-endorsed candidates prevailed in their primaries, with three races still undecided. Unfortunately, Brian Harris, endorsed by CVNM for the Public Regulation Commission District 3 seat, lost his bid. We congratulate Joe Maestas on his victory and look forward to a fresh perspective for District 3 on the PRC.

CVNM also endorsed in two County Commission elections. Incumbent Harry Browne trounced his opponent in the Grant County Commission District 5 race. His convincing win reaffirms the community’s values and desire for strong mining regulation and leaving the Gila River free-flowing.

In 2018, CVNM successfully secured a pro-climate majority in the New Mexico House of Representatives. The 2020 primary election outcome means that the pro-climate , pro-community majority in the House is positioned to be even stronger, while the Senate will finally begin to look like and represent New Mexican’s conservation and climate justice values.

“As a state, New Mexico has based its budgets on unpredictable and unreliable oil and gas revenues, putting families at risk by threatening our public schools and critical services,” said Ben Shelton, CVNM’s Political and Policy Director. “Oil and gas industry money has weakened our environmental rules and agencies and distorted our politics. New Mexicans are tired of oil and gas industry dominance in the state and want the kind of transformational economy and politics that the candidates we endorsed represent.”

HD 13 – Patricia Roybal Caballero WIN
HD 17 – Debbie Armstrong WIN
HD 20 – Meredith Dixon WIN
HD 27 – Marian Matthews WIN
HD 40 – Roger Montoya WIN
HD 42 – Kristina Ortez WIN
HD 45 – Linda Serrato (undecided)
HD 47 – Brian Egolf WIN
HD 50 – Matthew McQueen WIN
HD 65 – Derrick Lente WIN
HD 70 – Anita Gonzales (undecided)

SD 3 – Shannon Pinto WIN
SD 4 – Noreen Kelly Loss
SD 8 – Pete Campos WIN
SD 9 – Brenda McKenna WIN
SD 10 – Katy Duhigg WIN
SD 17 – Mimi Stewart WIN
SD 20 – Rebecca “Puck” Stair (undecided)
SD 28 – Siah Correa Hemphill WIN
SD 30 – Pam Cordova WIN
SD 35 – Neomi Martinez Parra WIN
SD 38 – Carrie Hamblen WIN

District 3 – Brian Harris Loss

Grant County Commission
District 5 – Harry Browne WIN

McKinley County Commission
District 5 – David Dallago Loss

Conservation Voters New Mexico is a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit that works to connect New Mexicans to their political power to protect our air, land and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. We do this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding decision-makers accountable and advancing responsible public policies.

Ben Shelton, Political and Policy Director at 505.467.9480 |
Michael Jensen, Communications Director at 505.362.1063 |

# # #