1976 United States Senate election in New Mexico

The 1976 United States Senate election in New Mexico took place on November 2, 1976. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Joseph Montoya ran for re-election to a third term, but was defeated by Republican Harrison Schmitt. As of 2021, this is the last time the Republicans won the Class 1 Senate seat in New Mexico, and the only time they have done so since 1934.

1976 United States Senate election in New Mexico

← 1970 November 2, 1976 1982 →
  Sen Harrison Schmitt.jpg Joseph M Montoya.jpg
Nominee Harrison Schmitt Joseph Montoya
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 234,681 176,382
Percentage 56.8% 42.7%

1976 United States Senate election in New Mexico results map by county.svg
County results
Schmitt:      50–60%      60–70%
Montoya:      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. senator before election

Joseph Montoya

Elected U.S. Senator

Harrison Schmitt


Harrison Schmitt was a former astronaut who walked on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission, who was seeking his first political office.

Joseph Montoya had completed two terms in the Senate and was seeking his third.[1]


In the pre-primary convention held on March 27, 1976, Schmitt received 73.7% of the votes and businessman Eugene Peirce received 21%, allowing both to qualify for the primary ballot. A third candidate, Arthur Lavine, received 5.3% of the votes, not enough to be placed on the primary ballot.[2]

In the June 1 primary election, Schmitt defeated Peirce and became the Republican nominee.


Schmitt campaigned for 14 months. The campaigns focus was on discussing the future. On the campaign trail, Schmitt said many times, "I have time for the future; Senator Montoya does not."[3]

Major candidatesEdit




Harrison Schmitt won the election in a decisive victory. Joseph Montoya congratulated Schmitt on his victory, saying "The people have spoken and I accept their verdict."[1]

General election results[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Harrison Schmitt 234,681 56.82% +9.69%
Democratic Joseph Montoya (incumbent) 176,382 42.70% -10.17%
La Raza Unida Ernesto B. Borunda 1,087 0.26%
American Independent Matt Dillion 906 0.22%
Majority 58,299 14.11% +8.36%
Turnout 413,056
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Schmitt Landslide Ends Montoya Senate Reign". Clovis News-Journal. Clovis, New Mexico. Associated Press. November 3, 1976. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Montoya, Schmitt, Peirce on Ballots". Las Cruces Sun-News. UPI. March 28, 1976. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Feather, Bill (November 3, 1976). "Montoya's Tenure Ended by Schmitt". Las Vegas Optic. Las Vegas, New Mexico. Associated Press. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1976election.pdf

External linksEdit