Michelle Luján Grisham elected first Latina Democratic Governor of New Mexico

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks to supporters in Albuquerque, M.M., Tuesday, June 5, 2018. Grisham won the Democratic nomination for governor. (AP Photo/Juan Labreche)Juan Labreche / AP

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By Stephen Nuño-Pérez

Democrat Michelle Luján Grisham was elected Tuesday as the first Latina Democratic governor of New Mexico.

Luján Grisham is in her third term in Congress; she was first elected in 2013 and has been the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus since 2017.

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She'll take over for outgoing New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, a Republican.

Early reports on Tuesday indicated high turnout in New Mexico, a state that continues to slide into a darker purple from its more conservative past. Polls had shown Luján Grisham, a 12th-generation New Mexican, with a comfortable lead throughout the campaign.

"Michelle Lujan Grisham has pulled out a solid victory in New Mexico over Congressman Steve Pearce in a hard fought race that saw higher turnout than expected," said Gabriel Sanchez, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico.

"This race of two incumbent members of Congress who vacated their seats to run for Governor is indicative of New Mexico's historic trend to elect Latino Governors, as this is the third in a row and two consecutive Latinas," said Sanchez.

Though New Mexico's economy had improved from booming oil prices, the state has one of the nation's highest poverty rates. Luján Grisham campaigned on raising the minimum wage and increasing pay for teachers.