New Mexico prepares for newly elected Democratic governor

January 1, 2019
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FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, right, and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was elected in November as the state's next governor, hold a joint press conference following a meeting at the State Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M. Martinez, a Republican and the state's first female governor, has served two consecutive terms. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, will take office Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials made final preparations on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the transition to a new governor with a public inauguration and ballroom galas in the state’s capital city.

Democratic New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham was scheduled to take office at midnight Tuesday in the state Capitol at a private ceremony attended by relatives and close friends. A public inauguration is planned at noon Tuesday, before evening ballroom celebrations at a luxury hotel and the Santa Fe Convention Center.

Lujan Grisham defeated Republican Steve Pearce by a margin of 14 percentage points in November as Democrats consolidated control over all statewide offices and New Mexico’s congressional delegation by flipping a Republican controlled seat.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is leaving office after eight years marked by frequent clashes with the Democrat-led Legislature, efforts to cut taxes and her expansion of Medicaid benefits. It was unclear whether she would accept an invitation to the inaugural.

Teenage country music sensation Chevel Sheperd of Farmington is singing at the inauguration. She gained national attention and local adulation with a recent music-competition victory on network television’s “The Voice.”

Ballroom entertainment includes homegrown New Mexico musicians from the nine-piece band Nosotros and Al Hurricane Jr., whose songs in English and Spanish blended traditional New Mexico corridos, Tejano, rock, folk and country.

Additional politicians elected to statewide offices such as attorney general and secretary of state are being sworn in separately on Tuesday afternoon in the Statehouse.

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