Ruben Del Valle of Las Cruces cast his first vote ever on Tuesday.
Del Valle, 27, voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary. He said he didn’t vote in any down-ballot races because he didn’t know much about the candidates. But Sanders’ campaign motivated him to show up to the polls for the first time.
“I agree with his outlook on a lot of things more than any other candidate,” said Del Valle, who walked to Mayfield High School from his nearby home with his young children to vote. “It was definitely cool to get out and vote for the first time.”
The Associated Press declared Monday that Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, had won enough delegates to become the party’s presumptive nominee. That didn’t stop Del Valle and many other Sanders supporters from showing up to vote in Las Cruces.
“He’s been fighting for us since he was literally our age,” said 19-year-old Shawnee McMinn, who voted for Sanders at East Picacho Elementary School north of Las Cruces along with a friend, 18-year-old Rachel Roberts.
“We voted for him because he cares,” Roberts said.
Clinton supporters also turned out to vote.
“She is the best. She’s got the most experience,” said Las Crucen Judy Rodriguez, who voted for Clinton at Thomas Branigan Library. “… And I want to see a woman president before I die.”
Devin Pike of Las Cruces said he likes Sanders but voted for Clinton because it was time to be practical.
“She’s going to win. Now it’s time to support her,” said Pike, who also voted at Branigan Library. “I like Sanders but I don’t think he can pull it out in the end.”
There were steady streams of voters at three polling places NMPolitics.net visited Tuesday morning, but lines were short. At Mayfield, Ralph Steinhoff and Marlin Schmidt said they were proud to vote for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“Everybody else is corrupt,” Steinhoff said.
“We are voting out corruption in this country,” added Schmidt, who said he appreciates that Trump speaks his mind, even if he doesn’t always agree with the candidate.
One Republican who declined to be named told NMPolitics.net she won’t support Trump and is planning to vote for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson in November. She declined to vote for Trump or several other GOP candidates who are on the New Mexico ballot even though they’ve already quit the race.
Adelina Jimenez, on the other hand, said she voted for Trump because she agrees with his stances on immigration and related issues. Jimenez, who identifies as Native American but also has Spanish ancestry, said immigrants need to assimilate into American culture. She said she doesn’t like seeing people wave Mexican flags at Trump protests.
And Jimenez is concerned that immigrants are a drain on the system and hurt the government’s ability to support citizens. “If you have a house and bring in more and more children, pretty soon you have to borrow money and you don’t have the time to take care of your children,” Jimenez said.
Fernando, who wouldn’t give his last name, wore a pin on his suit that included the Mexican flag in the shape of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, underneath an American flag in the shape of the state of New Mexico. After voting for Clinton at Mayfield, he said he identifies as Mexican and believes Democrats must unite to stop Trump. Sanders’ continued campaigning, he said, helps Trump.
“It’s about the party at this point. There’s no more me, me, me,” Fernando said.
Down the ballot, candidates and campaign workers were trying to get their supporters out to vote on Tuesday. John Vasquez, a Democrat in a three-way primary for the District 5 seat on the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners, was using wire to tie American flags to a campaign sign near East Picacho Elementary.
“This is my first time running for office, and I’ve had a lot of fun,” Vasquez said. “I feel pretty confident. I’ve worked hard.”
Jessica Martinez, the daughter of N.M. House District 35 candidate Paul “Pablo” Martinez, was among those waving campaign signs at passing motorists outside Branigan Library. Paul Martinez, a Democrat, is in a three-way primary for his party’s nomination for the House seat.
“I’m optimistic,” Jessica Martinez said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback at the doors.”
Renee D’Antonio was also outside Branigan Library holding up a sign for her brother, incumbent District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, who’s facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from James Dickens. The race has been characterized by mudslinging and allegations of wrongdoing.
Renee D’Antonio lives in Virginia and flew in to help her brother campaign. “He really is a good guy. He really is a man of integrity,” Renee D’Antonio said. “We’re getting a good reaction. We’re waving and people are honking their horns.”
Several Democratic primary voters NMPolitics.net spoke with on Tuesday said they support Dickens. Sanders supporters Roberts and McMinn, who live together, said they voted for Dickens because he came to their house and made time to talk with them.
Clinton supporter Pike said he was disappointed in the way D’Antonio’s office handled a murder case, so he voted for Dickens. But he said he suspects D’Antonio will win because he did a better job of getting his name out during the election.