Apr 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Record number of Hispanic Republicans run for New Mexico House seats

A statue of children in front of the New Mexicop Statehouse.

New Mexico Statehouse. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

New Mexico Republicans are attracting a record number of Hispanic candidates for state House seats, another sign the GOP is aggressively courting Latino voters this year.

Why it matters: New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics of any state. It's also dominated by Democrats, who control the governor's office, legislature, two U.S. Senate seats and two of three House seats. But a national, multi-year effort to recruit diverse, local GOP slates is showing results.

Driving the news: An Axios analysis of New Mexico candidates found that 18 Hispanic Republicans are seeking seats in the state's 70-member lower chamber where Democrats hold a 45-24-1 majority.

  • The Hispanic GOP candidates are running against Democrats in competitive rural and urban seats where the outcomes are hard to predict after redistricting.

The big picture: The spike in Latino GOP candidates in New Mexico reflects broader Republican recruiting efforts across the country.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee told Axios that 103 Hispanic GOP candidates are seeking U.S. House seats this year — a record for the party.
  • Texas Republicans are hoping to send the state's first Latina Republicans to Congress with Monica De La Cruz and Mayra Flores challenging Democrats amid political shifts in South Texas.
  • James Wesolek, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas, said the party in Texas is not keeping track of candidates' race, sex, or age in its state House races.

What they're saying: "Hispanic voters are realizing that the Democrats are moving further to the left nationally and in the state, and that the conservative Hispanic voters align with us much more," Steve Pearce, chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico, told Axios.

  • Pearce said New Mexico Republicans began recruiting Hispanics in 2017 to run for county chairs and county commissioner seats and now some of those officials are running for state House seats.

Yes, but: Democratic Party of New Mexico spokesperson Delaney Corcoran said 18 GOP candidates is hardly a groundswell and that people of color remain underrepresented in the New Mexico GOP.

  • "Right now 37 out of 47 Hispanic members of the New Mexico legislature are Democrats, and this year more than 40 Hispanic Democrats are running for state House," Corcoran said.
  • "While Democrats have been focused on the kinds of kitchen-table issues that make a difference to all New Mexicans, Republicans have been spewing extremist rhetoric, sowing division, and alienating New Mexicans."

New Mexico Democratic political consultant Sisto Abeyta said Democrats in New Mexico and other states need to dedicate more resources to rural areas where Hispanic voters have been ignored.

  • "In recent years, we're seeing more [Hispanic Republican] candidates coming from rural areas and communities of poverty."

Go deeper: Inflation hits Latino support for Democrats, poll shows

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