First-time candidate wins House District 35 Democratic primary

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Angelica Rubio, a community organizer and writer, has won the Democratic primary race to replace Jeff Steinborn in the N.M. House of Representatives.

Angelica Rubio

Courtesy photo

Angelica Rubio

Rubio, who is a first-time candidate, isn’t yet declaring victory, but with most votes tallied, NMPolitics.net is calling the race.

“I’ve already been contacted by a lot of people saying congratulations, but I’m just kind of waiting for it to be official,” Rubio said.

With votes counted from everywhere but Anthony and Chaparral in Doña Ana County, Rubio leads with 45 percent of the vote to Ray Jaramillo’s 31 percent and Paul “Pablo” Martinez’s 24 percent. The district is mostly located in Las Cruces, so while District 35 voters could have cast ballots at voting convenience centers in Anthony and Chaparral, there aren’t likely many outstanding votes.

Jaramillo is conceding the race.

“I’m happy for Angelica. She worked hard. And District 35 will be well taken care of,” he said. “I’m proud of what we accomplished and the amount of votes I did receive. I will continue to do what I do; fight for young children, students and families of New Mexico. I learned a lot on this amazing journey!”

Jaramillo thanked his wife, children, and campaign manager for their “hard work and dedication.”

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Rubio said she spoke with Jaramillo late Tuesday, when he conceded the race, and the two agreed that they were happy they ran clean campaigns.

“I think that’s something that’s really critical and why people aren’t engaged in politics — it has become so ugly,” she said. “… But we were able to run a clean race.”

Rubio ran the successful 2014 campaign to raise the minimum wage in Las Cruces for the community organizing group New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFé).

(Disclosure: This journalist is dating CAFé’s executive director Sarah Silva.)

After leaving CAFé, Rubio managed the successful campaign last year to elect Kasandra Gandara to the Las Cruces City Council. Gandara was considered the underdog in that race, but she turned out some less-likely voters in a city council district that overlaps the House district whose Democratic primary Rubio won Tuesday.

Rubio will face Republican Joseph Bishop in November. The district leans Democratic.

“Angelica worked and walked for every vote she got,” said Andrea Orzoff of Las Cruces. “If she brings that kind of energy and persistence to her work in the Legislature, New Mexico will be incredibly lucky.”

“Angelica Rubio worked very hard,” said Las Crucen Anna Juarez. “I would see her walking with her clipboard, introducing herself to voters in my precinct and nearby precincts. I think most of us like being able to personally meet our representatives.”

Steinborn is vacating the House District 35 seat this year to run for the District 36 seat in the N.M. Senate. He won his own primary against Oscar Vasquez-Butler on Tuesday, with 66 percent of the vote to Butler’s 34 percent. Steinborn will take on incumbent Republican Lee Cotter in November.

In Doña Ana County’s other legislative primary, incumbent Rep. Bealquin “Bill” Gomez, D-La Mesa, defeated two challengers to win 45 percent of the vote and, given that there’s no Republican on the ballot in November, likely re-election.

This article has been updated.

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