New Mexico Elects Its First All Women of Color House Delegation

The historic New Mexico House delegation formed out of three races with women running in both major parties. 

New Mexico Elects Its First All Women of Color House Delegation
Left to right: Deb Haaland (@IndianCountry / Twitter); Yvette Herrell (Wikipedia); and Teresa Leger Fernandez (@BOLDDems / Twitter).

This article originally appeared on The 19th.

New Mexico made history by electing its first U.S. House delegation made up of all women of color, the result of three races with women running in both major parties.

Democrat Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women in Congress, was elected to a second term against in the 1st Congressional District; Republican Yvette Herrell, a member of Cherokee Nation, defeated the incumbent in a closely-watched race in the 2nd; and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez was elected to represent the 3rd District, the first woman to hold the seat since its creation in 1983. 

In 1990, Hawaii became the first state to send an all woman of color House delegation to Congress when Reps. Patricia Saiki and Patsy Mink were elected. New Hampshire became the first state to have an all-female congressional delegation in 2013, when Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Reps. Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter were elected.

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In a race that captured national attention, Xochitl Torres Small, the Democratic incumbent in the 2nd District, was unable to defend her seat against Herrell. Torres Small eked out a win over Herrell in 2018, flipping the seat for Democrats with fewer than 4,000 votes. The race drew big spending from both parties. The National Republican Congressional Committee injected nearly $5 million into the contest. 

Torres Small—a former attorney specializing in environmental law, health care and litigation—characterized herself as a bipartisan legislator. She said she secured resources for small businesses and rural health care providers during the pandemic. 

Herrell showed support for President Donald Trump and emphasized job creation as her top priority. She ran on a platform of reducing regulations in the mining, energy and agricultural industries; investing in public education and vocational training; and reducing taxes. 

In the 3rd District, Fernandez said her top priorities were to ensure all Americans can access affordable health care, decrease the cost of prescription drugs and transition to a system where coverage isn’t tied to employment. She will be replacing Democrat Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who ran for the state’s open Senate seat.

Haaland, the incumbent winner in the 1st, easily won her second term in the House. The member of Laguna Pueblo campaigned in support of access to abortion, affordable health care and renewable energy.

There were at least 243 women running for House seats across the country this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, including a record-number of Republican women. And Republican women competed against Democratic women in at least 39 races, another new record

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Mariel Padilla is a general assignment reporter for The 19th. Previously she covered breaking news at The New York Times, compiled data at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism and contributed to a Pulitzer Prize-winning project at The Cincinnati Enquirer.