Primaries are obviously meant for political parties, in this case we are talking mostly about Democrats and Republicans, to sort the wheat from the chaff and choose a candidate who can win in the general election.

As of today, that’s happened across the country but not before some serious infighting among the parties themselves, fighting that has often been vicious and personal, took place over the last few months. 

Nationwide for Republicans the fights were between those who were deemed pro-Trump versus those who were anti-Trump. Interestingly, Rio Arriba County was an outlier last night. The progressives won two out of three seats for state representative. Nationwide liberals had a bad night and lost in several races.

In Española and Rio Arriba County, it was more regional and local with the most intense competition occurring in the race for state representative where clear lines were drawn between Democrats deemed progressive and Democrats more moderate, more traditional.

In many ways these intra-party fights were battles for the current soul of the party.

The three incumbents in Districts 40, 41 and 46 — Roger Montoya, Susan Herrera and Andrea Romero, respectively — are all progressives.

Only in District 40 did the moderate and more traditional Democrat win. Joseph Sanchez who held the seat prior to Montoya handily defeated Montoya. But otherwise, the progressives, Herrera and Romero, prevailed.

Rep. Herrera was long considered by most to be able to hold onto her job but in many quarters, Romero was seen to be vulnerable to the competition provided by Henry Roybal. Not so. Rep. Romero rolled to victory.

Does this mean that Northern New Mexico is now firmly in the hands of the progressives? Too early to tell but clearly, they hold the upper hand.

This does mean that Northern New Mexico and its state representatives might just fall neatly in line with an outline for the future of the Democratic Party nationwide. A national report was issued on Tuesday by a group of Democrats and written by someone close to President Joe Biden and his administration advocating “progressive populism” as a blueprint for Democrats making a comeback particularly in the Midwest where they have lost ground.

According to a news story, “the report contains nine recommendations, which can be boiled down to a call for ‘progressive populism’ to counter the frustration and economic dislocation many of these voters feel about politics.”

In the same news story it says, “the author of the report ‘recommends that the Democratic Party, labor unions and progressive activists focus on engaging the pool of voters in the middle who are repulsed by extremism, and not convinced that the Republican Party has their economic interests in mind.’”

Even though the Democratic Party remains dominant in New Mexico it has lost substantial ground across the country despite the Biden victory and nationwide the progressive movement appears wobbly.

It’s possible that the state representative results in Northern New Mexico show regional popularity as opposed to a trend that mirrors the future of Democrats across the country. Only time will tell.

All of the candidates for state representative appeared a week ago on Wednesday, June 1 at a political forum held at Northern New Mexico College. The event was sponsored by the college under the direction of Interim President Dr. Barbara Medina and co-sponsored by The Rio Grande Sun. Organizers anticipated attendance at 30 to 40 persons. A standing-room only crowd of 300 persons showed up. If nothing else the turnout symbolized the intense interest in politics in Rio Arriba County.

And the intensity of crowd indicated that the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party at least in Northern New Mexico is far from over. Political fortunes can turn on a time, in an instant. For now, the progressives have held on, and it will be up to them statewide to see if they can heal the wounds between the two ideologies.

If they cannot, the door opens for the Republicans.

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