Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham and Gov. Susana Martinez made their first joint-public appearance since Election Day on Friday to announce that the two are in the midst of a smooth transition. Both Lujan Grisham and Martinez highlighted the significance of Martinez, the nation’s first Latina governor, handing the reins of state government over to another Latina. Lujan Grisham will be sworn in on Jan. 1. The outgoing governor also took a moment to take credit for handing over a healthy state government to Lujan Grisham.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will serve a second term in Washington D.C. after a significant win against Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian Gary Johnson. Heinrich gave his acceptance speech to a crowd of supporters and alongside his wife and two sons. “In the face of a president who defies so much of what we stand for as Americans, I will continue to stand with you,” he told the crowd. He said he will continue to oppose a border wall between the United States and Mexico that “our border communities do not want and do not need.”
A Senate race that was largely assumed to go to Heinrich, saw a twist when one of the rounds of musical chairs in the Libertarian Party of New Mexico included a swap-out from New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn to Johnson, a former New Mexico governor. Dunn had been polling mostly in single digits with Rich and Heinrich splitting most of the votes.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will take on a new title in January when she becomes New Mexico’s next governor. Ending the nearly two-year-long campaign for governor, Lujan Grisham and her opponent Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce each addressed their respective supporters Tuesday night. Calling out to the crowd in Albuquerque, Governor-Elect Lujan Grisham pointed out that the state has more opportunities than challenges. “This state is so ready to lead,” she said. “We will lead from today, and on renewable, clean energy we will be known as the clean energy state of America.”
At the Republican Party of New Mexico watch party, Pearce had similar thoughts about the state’s ability to succeed.
That was Gov. Susana Martinez talking to a police dispatcher in December 2015 after hotel employees called in a noise complaint. Many of her critics focused on her slurred speech that night. But Martinez’s demand for what she deemed a public record grabbed the attention of journalists and open records advocates because of her administration’s history of delaying or outright denying public records. When she first ran for governor in 2010, Martinez vowed to be more transparent than her predecessor, Bill Richardson.
ROSWELL— Former Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon spoke to a crowd of about 150 people in Roswell Thursday night about his new film Trump@War. He also took the opportunity to praise Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich, calling him a “real populist.”
Bannon said his film was not intended to change minds about Trump, but instead to rally Trump supporters ahead of November’s midterm election. “This is not a midterm,” Bannon told the crowd. “This is Trump’s first reelect.”
Rich praised Trump and the controversial strategist. “When I looked at this race, I looked at President Trump,” Rich said.
Controversial political figure and former presidential chief strategist Steve Bannon will make an appearance in New Mexico on Thursday in support of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. UPDATE: Steve Bannon: Mick Rich is a ‘real populist’
Mick Rich’s campaign confirmed that Bannon will speak on behalf of his political group Citizens of the American Republic in Roswell, stumping for the Albuquerque construction contractor and political newcomer. The Rich campaign said the event is sponsored and paid for by Citizens of the American Republic and Rich will appear as a guest. Nick Gerard, a staffer with the Mick Rich campaign, said Bannon’s appearance is notable for both the campaign and the Republican Party. “A lot of people nationally kind of look at New Mexico and just assume it will forever and always be a Democratic state and that’s not the case on the ground,” Gerard said.
Thousands of New Mexicans have already voted and Election Day is only weeks away. Which means politicians around the state are in high gear spreading their respective messages through commercials and campaign events. But one tactic many politicians are also using to signal undecided voters is endorsements from high-profile politicians. A New Mexico political scientist said those major endorsements will impact the election but it’s not entirely clear how much it will help or hurt campaigns to get a stamp of approval from a former U.S. president, a New Mexico governor or a sitting U.S. Senator. University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson told NM Political Report those endorsements only go as far as the endorser’s approval rating.
Mick Rich’s slogan for his U.S. Senate campaign is “Send a hard hat to Washington.” Like many candidates, Rich promotes his day job and business skills to show he’s the best choice to represent New Mexicans in the U.S. Senate. His background in major construction projects and his support for the military and national laboratories, Rich has said, qualifies him to represent the state. But records from the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) show friction between Rich’s contracting company and school officials over a project that should have been finished last year, but still has pending work to be done. When NM Political Report first asked about the contentious emails and letters, a school official downplayed the delayed project. Rich, however, blamed poor planning from the project’s architect, engineer and school officials for the delay.
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate and former two-term Republican governor Gary Johnson is killing time outside a Starbucks in Los Alamos between campaign events. Technically he shouldn’t be here at all—or, at least not running for office. On election night in 2016, Johnson told NM Political Report he was done with politics after his second presidential run. Asked about that night, Johnson answers the question he knows is coming next. “I can’t be believed,” Johnson interrupted sarcastically.
Election Day is six weeks away and while the Democratic candidate is leading the race for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, neither of the other two candidates is giving up. In fact, both Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton are confident they can beat Democrat Deb Haaland. Arnold-Jones isn’t worried that a recent poll shows she is behind by eight points, and says voters have told her they often don’t participate in polls or answer questions honestly. “People I talk to don’t support the agenda that’s being pushed [by Democrats],” Arnold-Jones said. “They don’t support abolishing ICE, they don’t support doing away with police.”
Princeton, who recently earned the support of only three percent of likely voters in a poll, is optimistic he’ll gain more supporters before Election Day.