In January, New Mexico will be the first state whose delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives consists entirely of women of color. In their Nov. 3 elections, Rep. Deb Haaland (New Mexico-1), Republican Yvette Herrell (New Mexico-2) and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez (New Mexico-3) each won their district races.
In 2018, Haaland became one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, joining Sharice Davids of Kansas. Haaland is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, a tribe in New Mexico. Before taking office, she was chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party and a community organizer. “We have an extremely divisive president who disparages so many people,” she told The New York Times after her 2018 win. “I felt like it was just time to stand up with a positive campaign.”
Herrell’s victory over a Democratic incumbent, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, returns the 2nd District to Republican control. Yesterday was a rematch of their 2018 race, in which Torres Small beat Herrell by just 1.8 points, flipping the open seat, which had been historically red. This year, the seat was considered one of the Democrats' most vulnerable. Prior to her congressional runs, Herrell served in New Mexico’s state legislature. She is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation but didn’t make her Native American ancestry a central part of her campaign in either run. “I want people to vote for me because of my experience, what I bring to the table, not because I have a portion of Native American blood in me,” Herrell told The Albuquerque Journal in 2018.
And in the 3rd District, Leger Fernandez became the first woman to win the seat. According to her campaign website, she is a career attorney focused on tribal and Hispanic civil rights. During the Clinton administration, she was a White House fellow, and was later appointed to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation by President Barack Obama. Leger Fernandez beat Republican Alexis Johnson.