Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her Republican allies appear to have lost ground in the state House of Representatives in the general election but gained seats in the Senate, including ousting a pair of Democratic leaders.

The GOP had hoped to knock off enough Democrats to take control of the House for the first time in nearly 60 years, but unofficial returns suggested the party went the other direction and lost seats.

District Judge Monica Zamora of Albuquerque has been elected to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Zamora, a Democrat, defeated sitting Court of Appeals Judge Miles Hanisee. She has 55 percent of the vote compared with Hanisee's 45 percent.

Zamora is a graduate of the University of New Mexico's law school. She worked as an attorney for 25 years before becoming a judge in the children's court division of the 2nd Judicial District in 2005.

Hanisee is a former federal prosecutor. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him to the court last year.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A top Democrat Senate leader lost his re-election bid Tuesday after being targeted by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in one of the most costly legislative races in this year's general election.

Roswell farmer Cliff Pirtle defeated Senate President Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat, according to unofficial returns.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico voters have approved one of the proposed constitutional amendments aimed at revamping the Public Regulation Commission, one of the state's most powerful, highest paid and most scandal-plagued bodies.

The amendment allows the state Legislature to establish minimum qualifications for PRC candidates.

Currently, a candidate needs only to be 18, a New Mexico resident for at least one year and have no felony convictions.

Two other proposed amendments that target PRC duties have yet to be decided.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Highlights of results of exit polls conducted in New Mexico for The Associated Press:

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WHY OBAMA WON: President Barack Obama scored well among first-time voters and younger voters, and he nearly split votes with Republican challenger Mitt Romney among voters over 30.

The newly re-elected president had a commanding lead among Hispanic men and women, but white voters favored Romney.

Both candidates maintained votes within their political bases.

New Mexico voters are deciding the fate of the state's five electoral votes for the presidency along with an open Senate seat on Election Day.

New Mexico has gone back and forth for the past three presidential cycles, and had been considered a battleground early on. But polls this summer and fall consistently showed President Barack Obama with a solid lead over GOP nominee Mitt Romney. The Republican National Committee in September pulled key staffers and sent them to more competitive states.

A costly fight for control of the New Mexico Legislature comes to an end Tuesday when voters decide whether Republicans will gain a majority in the House for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Republican and Democratic-leaning political action committees have dumped more than $3 million into the general election campaign, an unprecedented amount for legislative races in New Mexico.

All 112 seats in the House and Senate are up for election this year.

The fate of five constitutional amendments and more than $140 million dollars in general obligation bonds will be decided by New Mexico voters on Tuesday.

Three of the amendments deal with reforming the Public Regulation Commission, one of the most powerful, highest paid and most scandal-plagued commissions in the state.

One proposal would allow lawmakers to adopt minimum standards for PRC candidates. The others would streamline the panel's duties and move some responsibilities to the secretary of state.

New Mexico is filling an open U.S. Senate seat in a race that has seen the candidates relentlessly punching away at each other over jobs, health care and taxes.

Voters decide Tuesday whether Democrat Martin Heinrich, Republican Heather Wilson or Independent American candidate Jon Barrie has offered the most appealing recipe for dealing with the nation's economic problems.

The winner will succeed Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate.

Albuquerque voters will send a new representative to Washington on Tuesday after a relatively quiet campaign between the two candidates.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is running against Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the 1st Congressional District, which represents most of the city. The winner will replace two-term Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich, who is running for the Senate.

It is the most competitive of the three congressional districts in New Mexico. In the other two, Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and GOP Rep. Steve Pearce are favored to hold on to their seats.

Officials say attendance at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta fell from last year.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta organizers announced Monday that estimated attendance at this year's nine-day event last month was more than 714,000. Officials say the number is down slightly from 2011's estimated 737,466 visits.

Organizers blamed the declined on poor weather which forced the cancellation of some events that historically have been the most attended.

Officials say the event attracted balloons from 19 countries.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Biologists are getting help from a team of mules as they return thousands of threatened Gila trout to their home streams in southwestern New Mexico.

The pack train traveled a few miles into the Gila National Forest wilderness this week to release the first batch of 1,000 fish. The remaining 3,000 will be packed in on Monday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's U.S. Senate candidates are sparring over who has the support of the Navajo Nation Council.

Republican Heather Wilson says the council endorsed her after Speaker Johnny Naize sent her a letter last month praising her energy policies.

David Shankbone

A City Council member in Santa Fe is proposing rules for an area of his city that would regulate alcohol sales and create a healthier food zone by banning new restaurant drive-thrus.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/SngcJ0 ) that City Council member Carmichael Dominguez is trying to put strict rules in place governing certain types of businesses in the Airport Road area of southwest Santa Fe.

Dominguez says his proposal is an attempt to improve the area's quality of life.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on Dominguez's proposal in January.

John Phelan

Gov. Susana Martinez has named a businessman from southeastern New Mexico to a commission that oversees the state Department of Transportation.

Robert Wallach of Hobbs fills a vacancy on the six-member state Transportation Commission, which sets policies for the department.

The 56-year-old Wallach runs a family-owned concrete business and also owns a ranch. Wallach is a former member of the Hobbs City Commission.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

The department is responsible for the state's network of highways and bridges.

The races for governor and attorney general have brought renewed attention to a proposal that would create a two-tiered driver's license system in Washington to address the issue of driving by immigrants who can't provide proof of legal U.S. residency.

Washington and New Mexico remain the only two states in the country not to require proof of legal U.S. residency when applying for a driver's license.

More people are dying on New Mexico highways this year, with state statistics showing a 25 percent jump in traffic deaths during the first nine months of 2012.

Deaths from alcohol-related crashes are also up by 20 percent this year. Alcohol played a role in about 40 percent of the state's 296 traffic deaths.

Figures compiled by the New Mexico Department of Transportation show pedestrian deaths and crashes that killed people above age 70 led the increase in fatalities.

Cm0rris0n

  An endangered Mexican gray wolf will be released into the wild from Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago.

The Chicago Zoological Society runs Brookfield Zoo and says the female wolf will be moved Saturday to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge in New Mexico. They say the 4 1/2-year-old wolf, named Ernesta, will be paired with a mate for potential release. Wildlife biologists will put the pair through a "boot camp" to prepare them for the wild.

Tomas Castelazo

  Nearly all of New Mexico continues to grapple with some level of drought, and federal forecasting models show those conditions are likely to persist through January.

State and federal officials reported during a drought monitoring meeting Thursday that there has been only one day of rain so far this month in the eastern half of New Mexico.

Those totals ranged from a half-inch to just over an inch of rain, not enough to catch up after back-to-back dry years.

Daniel Schwen

  New Mexico Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are asking President Obama to designate the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos and the Organ Mountains in southern New Mexico as national monuments.

The senators, who are sponsors of legislation that would elevate the sites to national conservation and wilderness areas, wrote a letter to Obama asking him to use his authority to establish the sites as National Monuments because a congressional logjam has made it difficult to pass their bill.

A fire burning in the Carson National Forest east of Taos has grown to an estimated 429 acres with zero containment so far.

Officials say the so-called Midnight Fire is mostly creeping and smoldering with little progression Thursday due to colder temperatures and a change of fuel type.

Fuels changed from mixed conifer and spruce to grass and aspen groves on Wednesday.

They say the rugged terrain, abundance of beetle-killed trees and other observed hazards also call for a change of strategy.

Months after the federal Indian Health Service said it was finalizing a policy that would make emergency contraception more accessible to American Indian women, advocates say they're still waiting. And in the meantime, Native women face a patchwork of policies at hospitals and clinics that don't always ensure timely access to the medication.

AllenS

New Mexico has huge potential for developing aerospace and aviation industries because of its weather and wide open air space. But industry leaders say it also has many hurdles to overcome, including high taxes and a reputation as a poor state with crime and bad schools.

A fire burning in the Carson National Forest east of Taos has grown to an estimated 375 acres despite windy conditions.

Officials say the so-called Midnight Fire had less active behavior than expected Wednesday as fuels changed from mixed conifer and spruce to grass and aspen groves.

They say the rugged terrain, abundance of beetle-killed trees and other observed hazards also call for a change of strategy.

A decision has been made to implement a confine and contain suppression strategy rather than attempt a direct attack and compromise firefighter safety.

Red Cross

The American Red Cross has delivered 180 cases of drinking water to residents of the Navajo Nation Ramah Chapter House after a well pump outage in the small northwestern New Mexico village of Mountain View.

Officials say 150 families were affected Wednesday.

The water request came to the Red Cross from emergency management officials at the Chapter House and the Cibola County Emergency Manager.

Emergency vehicles from the Red Cross Regional headquarters in Albuquerque and from Farmington delivered the water Wednesday evening.

The city of Albuquerque is holding a number of events in honor of Rudolfo Anaya's novel Bless Me, Ultima. The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is hosting tomorrow's "Walk in the Bosque" to allow residents to learn about plants in the New Mexico-based novel. Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age story set in 1940s eastern New Mexico. The movie of the novel was released yesterday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former administrative assistant for Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston has filed a lawsuit claiming the sheriff created a hostile workplace for women.

Deborah Garcia provided a copy of her Aug. 28 complaint to the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/TxRT75) this week.

In the filing, Garcia alleges Houston made comments about female employees' clothing, body size and breast size. She also says he made negative remarks about her religion.

Police in Santa Fe are reporting a dramatic drop in the number of burglaries they're attributing to a focused effort to trim the numbers.

Police Chief Ray Rael says only 33 residential burglaries were reported in the city last month. That's half the number reported in August and a 55 percent drop from September 2011.

It's also the lowest monthly total since 2006.

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A new Elvis hot air balloon and another in the shape of a child in a wheelchair are among the new shapes scheduled take part in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The 41st annual event is set to begin Saturday with the launched of hundreds of hot air balloons.

Fiesta officials hope for better weather for the nine-day affair after wind and rains sidelined balloons for a few events last year cutting attendance by around 100,000 visitors.

Still, last year organizers broke a world record sending 345 balloons up at one time.

The New Mexico Department of Health has a new Web page aimed at educating parents about ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related causes of infant deaths.

Interim Health Secretary Brad McGrath says parents should put their babies to sleep in a bassinet or crib to keep them safe rather than sleeping in the same bed.

The Web page also stresses the importance of having infants sleep on their backs in safe places free of any soft bedding, blankets or quilts.

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