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Primary wins put New Mexico closer to all-female U.S. House delegation

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has moved closer to possibly sending a historic delegation of all women of color to the U.S. House.

According to unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary, Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Latina, won a seven-way race to capture her party’s nomination for the Democratic-leaning seat in northern New Mexico.

“This is a win for our communities & families across our district,” Leger Fernandez tweeted late Tuesday. “Our campaign has been about bringing people together & lifting up the diversity that makes us New Mexicans.”

She joins incumbents Rep. Deb Haaland — a Laguna Pueblo member and one of the nation’s first Native American congresswomen — and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, on the all women of color Democratic U.S. House slate.

Former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, won a heated Republican primary race to challenge Torres Small November in a swing district representing southern New Mexico.

And retired police officer Michelle Garcia Holmes, who is Hispanic, won the GOP nomination to challenge Haaland for the Democratic-leaning seat representing Albuquerque.

The Republican primary in northern New Mexico with two women in the three-way race remained too close to call early Wednesday, but an Hispanic woman was leading.

New Hampshire in 2013 became the first state to have an all-female Congressional delegation (Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and Reps. Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter), according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Hawaii had a two-member all women of color U.S. House delegation with GOP U.S. Rep. Patricia Saiki and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink in 1990. The state again elected two women of color ito the House in 2010 with Democratic U.S. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono, both Japanese Americans.

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, who is of Samoan ancestry, later replaced Hirono.

Deleware’s lone member of the House is Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a black woman.

But New Mexico could wind up with the largest U.S. House delegation of women or women of color in history. The state’s population of about 2 million is 49% Hispanic and 9% Native American.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 490 women have filed as candidates for House seats nationwide in 2020, a record high. The numbers could grow because filing deadlines have yet to pass in around a dozen or so states.

Democrats in Kansas have women running in all four U.S. House seats and for U.S. Senate. The state’s primary is August 4.