Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Northern N.M. Once Backed GOP.

Byline: David Mercer Of the Journal

Support for Dems Grew During Depression

Political scientists and pundits generally view northern New Mexico as having as strong a Democratic Party following as any region of the country.

Turn the clock back to 1900, though, and northern New Mexico was Republican country.

"That really is difficult for people today to conceive of," said Maurilio Vigil, a recently retired New Mexico Highlands University political science professor and longtime observer of northern New Mexico politics. "The loyalty Hispanics feel today for the Democratic Party was just as strong for the Republican Party.

"The Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, and that was part of the reason for it," he said.

But from the time of statehood in 1912 through the 1920s, Democratic support grew steadily in the north and the Republican stronghold collapsed almost entirely with the Depression.

Today, Democratic voter registration runs as high as 82 percent in Rio Arriba County and 78 percent in Mora County, according to the Secretary of State's Office. In Santa Fe County's 15 contested races in Tuesday's election, the Democrats have a candidate in every race, the Republicans only 11. And eight candidates are running unopposed in the county, all of them Democrats.

The Hispanic vote in the north, Vigil said, "is undoubtedly the core of the Democratic Party."

"When I first became politically aware the situation was like it is now," said state GOP chairman John Dendahl, a Santa Fe native. "The north was heavily Democratic, under the control of political bosses, and the general language to describe that hasn't changed."

"It's years of very longstanding attachment," Vigil said. "It goes to the '30s and it's very strong."

Agrarian life

Northern New Mexico's Republican roots of the late 19th and early 20th centuries mirrored the rest of the nation. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.