Democratic Party primaries in New Mexico, 2022

A primary election is an preliminary election where registered voters select the candidates that will represent a political party in a general election. Unlike the November general election, primary elections are held within each political party to determine which candidate will be their nominee for elected offices in the general election.

Open vs. Closed Primaries

Primaries can be open, closed, semi-closed, or top-two. In an open primary, voters can vote in either party’s primary regardless of their registered party affiliation. In a closed primary, only voters registered with a given party can vote in that party’s primary. Semi-closed primaries allow party members and independent/unaffiliated voters to participate. Top-two primaries advance the top two vote-getters regardless of party to the general election.

Importance of Primaries

Primaries are important because they give voters a say in which candidate will represent their preferred party during the general election. Primaries help narrow down the field and shape the ticket. Without primaries, party officials would have sole discretion on nominees.

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New Mexico’s Primary Process

Closed Primary System

New Mexico utilizes a closed primary system. Only voters registered as Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and only Republican registered voters can vote in the Republican primary. New Mexico has been a closed primary state since its first primaries were instituted.

When Primaries are Held

Primaries in New Mexico are held in June of even-numbered years just like many other states. The 2022 primaries took place on June 7th. Runoff primaries, if necessary, take place later in the summer.

Offices Up for Nomination

In the Democratic primaries, registered Democrats can vote for their party’s nominees for federal offices like U.S. Senate and House, state executive positions like Governor and Attorney General, state legislative seats, and sometimes local offices.

2022 New Mexico Democratic Primaries

Notable Races and Candidates

Governor Primary

The open seat Democratic primary for Governor was highly competitive. Incumbent Susana Martinez was term-limited. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham defeated State Senator Joseph Cervantes and Jeff Apodaca, son of a former Governor, among others to secure the nomination.

Congressional Primaries

All 3 of New Mexico’s U.S. House districts had Democratic primaries, but only NM-03 had a competitive race between incumbent Ben Ray Lujan and challengers. Lujan won handily with over 80% of the vote.

State Legislature Primaries

Dozens of contested State House and Senate Democratic primaries took place, both for open seats and those with incumbents. Notably, high-ranking Senator Michael Sanchez lost his primary to political newcomer Neomi Martinez-Parra.

Competitiveness and Incumbency

Number of Contested Primaries

Compared to prior years, the 2022 Democratic primaries saw a relatively high number of competitive races with multiple candidates in the running. There were contested primaries for most statewide offices.

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Incumbents Facing Challenges

In addition to Senator Sanchez, a number of other Democratic legislative incumbents faced stiff primary challenges. Overall, around 20% of Democratic state legislative incumbents running for re-election had contested primaries.

Open Seats

With several legislators retiring or seeking other offices, there were 12 open Democratic primaries for State House seats. Open seats generally attract the most candidates and competitive races.

Voter Information

Registration and Identification

Registration Deadline

The deadline to register to vote for the primary was May 10, 2022. Voters had to be registered as Democrats by that date to participate in the Democratic primaries. The general election registration deadline is October 11.

Online Registration

New Mexico offers online voter registration. Eligible citizens can conveniently register or update their registration at before the deadline.

Voter ID Requirements

Under New Mexico law, only voters who registered by mail and did not provide ID must show identification at the polls. Most voters do not need to show ID thanks to same-day registration.

Absentee and Early Voting

Absentee Voting Eligibility

All registered voters in New Mexico can request an absentee ballot without needing an excuse. Absentee ballot applications must be received by the Friday before primary election day.

Early Voting Period

Early voting in person ran from May 21 to June 4 at various locations. Early voting gives voters more flexibility in casting their primary ballots.

Importance of Participation

Shaping the Party Ticket

The Democratic candidates nominated during the primary ultimately ended up on November’s general election ballot. Primary voters helped determine the party’s ticket from Governor on down.

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Having a Voice in Key Races

Many races were uncontested in the general election due to New Mexico’s political lean, making the Democratic primary the main event where the next officeholder was essentially chosen.

Exercising Civic Duty

Increased voter participation in primaries empowers citizens to have a greater influence. Voting in primaries and spreading awareness are civic duties.


The 2022 New Mexico Democratic primaries brought competitive races across the board. The outcomes shaped who would represent the Democratic party in the general elections for congressional, statewide, and state legislative seats. Primary participation provides voters their most direct voice in determining their party’snominees. By learning about the candidates and voting, citizens ensure their preferences are considered as tickets take form.


What offices are nominated through New Mexico’s Democratic primaries?

New Mexico Democratic primaries determine the Democratic nominees for federal offices like U.S. Senate and House, statewide executive positions like Governor, state legislative seats, and sometimes local offices.

When are the next primaries in New Mexico?

The next primary election in New Mexico will be held on June 6, 2024 to determine party nominees for that year’s November general election. Primaries are held in June of even-numbered years.

How can I participate in New Mexico’s Democratic primaries?

You must register to vote as a Democrat in New Mexico by the registration deadline to vote in Democratic primaries. You can register online, by mail, or in person. Already registered Democrats can vote early, absentee, or on primary election day.

Do I need to show ID to vote in the Democratic primary?

Only voters who registered by mail and did not provide ID verification must show photo ID or other accepted identification when voting in person. Most New Mexico voters do not need ID.

Can independents vote in New Mexico’s Democratic primary?

No, New Mexico has a closed primary system, meaning only voters registered as Democrats can participate in Democratic primaries. Independents would need to affiliate as Democrats to vote.

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