Meet Michelle Lujan Grisham: The First Democratic Latina Elected State Chief Executive in the History of the United States

Lujan Grisham Sworn In Belatina
From left, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, greets New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as Assistant Sergeant at Arms Frank Montoya rescorts her out after she delivering her State of the State address, Tuesday January 15, 2019. The Legislative Session started at noon at the State Capitol. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Regardless of your political affiliations, most of us can agree that 2018 was a pretty tumultuous year in this country, especially for women. But as we kick off 2019, with what many hope to be a fresh start and a positive shift, we have several reasons to celebrate. The 116th congress is making history, with a record number of women being sworn into office — 127 women will serve in Congress and 25 will serve in the Senate — as well as the first Democratic Latina elected state chief executive in the history of the United States.

Meet Michelle Lujan Grisham, the first Latina Democratic governor of New Mexico, elected on November 6th, 2018.

Susann Martinez with Lujan Grisham

It’s important and impressive to note that Lujan Grisham is replacing another Latina governor in this top position in New Mexico. She is taking over for Susana Martinez, a Republican, who was term-limited, and who also made history back in 2010 when she was the first Latina governor ever elected in the United States. Lujan Grisham’s victory over Republican nominee Rep. Steve Pearce came along with a wave of other Democratic wins in the midterm elections, and it was an important victory that flipped the governor’s mansion from red to blue in this border state that has a conservative past.

Lujan Grisham In Belatina
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Lt. Gov. Howie Morales talk before greeting people at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, Tuesday January 1, 2019. This was after their inaugural ceremony. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

A progressive politician with growing support in New Mexico, Lujan Grisham has served three terms in Congress beginning in 2013, representing New Mexico’s 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Most recently she was the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She is a seasoned activist and politician on a mission, and as the first Democratic Latina elected state chief executive in the history of the United States, she’s ready to work hard to deliver on her campaign promises. Here are a few key issues we can expect Governor Lujan Grisham to address now that she has taken on the top job in New Mexico.

She’s Going to Focus on Reforming Public Education

While immigration is of course a top concern for the entire country, one of the most prominent concerns of voters in New Mexico is the public education system in the state, and Lujan Grisham has big plans for putting money back into their schools. When she took the oath of office and was officially sworn into her new role, Lujan Grisham announced it was time to spend more money on education and focus on supporting educators and students by investing in schools and staff. New Mexico is currently experiencing an oil boom and has a budget surplus to work with, and in her inauguration speech she proudly claimed, “We will be tenacious. We will not quit until we have delivered the investment our public schools and our teachers and our students deserve.”

She Plans to Focus on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Lujan Grisham has vowed to transform New Mexico into a “national example of what a clean energy revolution looks like,” according to an AP News report. She plans to make global warming and clean energy a prime focus for New Mexico and her goal is for the state to produce 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources (think solar power and wind turbines) by 2030. Currently, New Mexico’s quota for clean, renewable energy is only 20 percent by 2020, which is not nearly aggressive or effective enough if you ask Lujan Grisham.

She opposes Trump’s immigration policy

In her role as the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Lujan Grisham has already been very involved in the immigration debate and has publicly been one of President Trump’s strongest critics in regards to his hardline immigration stance. The Washington Post reported that Lujan Grisham wants to see major changes in immigration policies in this country, with ICE priorities “refocused away from detaining and deporting illegal immigrants — a major part of the agency’s duties — and instead aimed at policing human trafficking, online sex predators, money laundering cybercrime.” Her strong opposition to Trump’s proposed immigration policies seems to have resonated with Latinx voters in New Mexico, as 48 percent of New Mexico is Hispanic — it is the state with the highest proportional Hispanic population in the country.