New Mexico

New Mexico Democrats regain control of State House

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Democratic Party has won a majority of seats in the New Mexico House of Representatives, taking back control of the chamber from the GOP.
    
With Tuesday's victory, Democrats now fill more than half the seats in the 70-member House after campaigning vigorously to regain the edge.
    
In 2014, Republicans got control of the House for the first time in six decades by a four-seat margin. The GOP hasn't controlled both chambers of the Legislature since 1929.
    
Incoming lawmakers will be dealing with a state budget deficit linked to the downturn in the oil and natural-gas sectors.
    
Republican House Majority Leader Nate Gentry had placed a high priority on criminal justice reforms during two legislative sessions this year, often in cooperation with GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.
   
Three-time Democratic state Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces has unseated Republican Sen. Lee Cotter.
    
The southern New Mexico district stretches from Las Cruces to Hatch, and voter rolls are dominated by registered Democrats.
    
In October, Steinborn voted against an approved package of state agency spending cuts designed to reduce a major budget deficit. He has been a vocal proponent of ethics reforms.
    
Steinborn also serves as the southern New Mexico director for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.
    
Cotter, a real estate investor and former legislative analyst, was an advocate for limited government and fewer regulations.
    
In the 2012 election, Cotter defeated Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, who was the subject of an ethics investigation that year over possible campaign finance violations.


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