Democratic judges snag uncontested seats all over the state, but Republicans win some challenges

By: - November 11, 2022 5:05 am

The New Mexico Supreme Court in Santa Fe in February 2022. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

New Mexicans had the chance to cast their votes for local and state judges yesterday. While Democrats got most of the open judicial seats, Republicans won some of the few contested races on the ballot.

State Supreme Court 

Voters decided not to change any of the N.M. Supreme Court judges this year, maintaining the all-democratic seating. They reelected Democrats Briana Zamora and Julie Vargas, and retained Michael Vigil.

Terms for the other two justices  — Democrats C. Shannon Bacon and David Thomson — aren’t up until 2026.

Court of Appeals

Three out of the 10 judges serving on the Court of Appeals appeared on the ballot this election cycle, and voters again decided to keep the familiar faces already serving. Voters reelected Democrats Gerald Baca and Katherine Wray, and retained Jane Yohalem.

The rest of the judges serving are all Democrats, except for Republican Chief Judge J. Miles Hanisee.

District Court

There was almost no competition at all for the district judge candidates this year. Democrats won a majority of the open seats, and out of the 19 races, only two had multiple people running. 

Both Republicans in the contested races took seats from the Democratic incumbents. David Finger in 5th Judicial District (Chaves, Eddy and Lee Counties) and Allison Martinez in the 13th District (Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia Counties) are replacing Eileen Riordan and Karl Reifsteck, respectively.

There are only two other new judges — Democrat Emeterio Leroy Rudolfo in the 2nd District (Bernalillo County) and Democrat Robert Lara in the 3rd judicial District (Doña Ana County).

Magistrate Court

Democrats won a narrow majority of the magistrate judicial seats throughout the state, though Republicans won nearly every contested race. Altogether, 35 Democrats, 31 Republicans and one Independent took the positions.

This race also wasn’t very competitive. Only about one-fifth of the races — 13 out of 67 — had multiple candidates.

The only contested races Democrats won were in Los Alamos County, where Catherine Taylor grabbed the county seat, and San Juan County, where Stanley King snagged the Division 2 seat.

Notably, in Union County in northeastern New Mexico, Mary Louise Harkins pulled way ahead in her race and became the only independent magistrate judge in the whole state.

Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

Democrats ran unopposed and maintained their full democratic seating in Bernalillo County’s Metropolitan Court.

Voters reelected four judges — Asra Elliott for Division 1, Joshua Sánchez for Division 4, Claire Ann McDaniel for Division 16 and Nina Safier for Division 17 — and retained the rest.

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Megan Gleason
Megan Gleason

Megan Gleason is a journalist based in Albuquerque. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. Other work has appeared under the New Mexico Press Association as well as in the Independent, Gallup Sun and Silver City Daily Press.