Year End Update From DPDAC Chair Liz Rodriguez-Johnson

Dear Doña Ana County Democrats:

I wish you and your families a happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year. I also want to express my thanks for your continued support of the Democratic Party.

I am very proud to say that Doña Ana County saw a record voter turnout in 2016, surpassing even the historic turnout of 2008. From 2014 to 2016 the voter turnout in our County nearly DOUBLED! With only the exception of one, the Doña Ana County Democratic candidates for local offices all won their contests. Even at that, we fell only 109 votes short of a complete sweep in our county.

Our victories were instrumental in taking back the New Mexico House of Representatives, and expanding the majority in the State Senate. We took all five State Senate contests in our County, and we won seven of the eight House contests. All County-wide offices (District Attorney, County Clerk, and County Treasurer) were won by Democrats, and all three of our Democratic County Commission candidates were elected. We also helped elect Maggie Toulouse Oliver as our Secretary of State, and Julie Vargas to the State Court of Appeals.

All eight Democratic county-wide campaigns won within Doña Ana County (3 of the 4 statewide candidates won statewide; Merrie Lee Soules also won in Doña Ana County but lost districtwide).

Of the 24 Democratic candidates who appeared on the ballot in Doña Ana County, 22 won all or parts of the County. Only Representative-elect Rodolpho ‘Rudy” Martinez and Willie Madrid failed to get majorities within their parts of Doña Ana County, but won in Grant and Otero Counties—Martinez, of course, was elected districtwide, while Willie Madrid lost by only 109 votes.

We saw record turnouts in the hotly contested precincts of District 37, and victories for Senator Bill Soules and Representative-elect Joanne Ferrary; and in our south valley, with Sunland Park, La Union and Anthony leading the way. In House District 36, a big turnout in the North Delray-East Doña Ana communities helped Representative-elect Nathan Small gain his historic victory. Senator-elect Jeff Steinborn also recaptured the District 36 State Senate seat.

The final canvass of votes cast in our county totaled 71,084 which represented almost a seventy percent turnout. Of those who voted, nearly 50% of all voters were registered Democrats (well above the 46% registration total), while only 29% of all voters were registered Republicans (well below the 31% registration totals).

Over 43,000 Doña Ana County voters cast early or absentee ballots, well above the previous high number of just over 29,000. Hispanic turnout in key precincts was significantly higher in 2016 than in 2012 or 2008.  Our largest vote-getters county-wide were Hillary Rodham Clinton with 37,947 and Maggie Toulouse Oliver 37,753 respectively. Among all the local contested races, State Senator Mary Kay Papen won by the widest margin in our county with over 67% of the vote. Senator Papen will again lead New Mexico’s upper legislative chamber as President pro Tempore.

These numbers are amazing in of themselves, but when you consider that in 2016, nationwide, fewer Democratic voters went to the polls, Doña Ana County’s voter turnout was incredible. In the three biggest counties in New Mexico, Bernalillo County’s voter turnout slightly decreased and Santa Fe’s voter turnout slightly increased, but Doña Ana County saw a big increase over the last presidential year and almost a 100% increase over two years ago in voter turnout, which is unprecedented!

While this is very good news for our County and our Party, specifically, our challenge ahead is not to fall into old patterns and allow our momentum, our vision and our energy to evaporate in 2018 or in the local elections between now and then.

We are a community-based volunteer organization. Your support and participation is critical.

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County (DPDAC) has set in motion a successful voter turnout campaign which must not be allowed to be reversed. Working together for the future, DPDAC will continue to build an even stronger structure so that our record of success can continue.

Together we can, and we should, continue to lead the way in New Mexico.

For all of you who helped as volunteers, made calls, knocked on doors, staffed the offices, helped protect the vote at the polling places and otherwise gave it your all, thank you!

Finally, I would like to personally take this opportunity to thank our wonderful Democratic National Committeewoman, Joni Gutierrez, who put so much her time, personal resources and effort into the 2016 campaign. Her leadership was irreplaceable.

Thank you all, so very much!


Liz Rodriguez-Johnson
Democratic Party of Doña Ana County