Political endorsements may have little sway on undecided voters

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.

NMMI records detail numerous construction delays in Mick Rich project

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.

Mr. Johnson wants to go to Washington

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.

Three distinct options for CD1

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.

Rich, Johnson still support Kavanaugh but want to hear from accuser

Following an allegation of sexual assault, the confirmation of U.S. Circuit Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh became more controversial. Now some Democrats, including New Mexico’s two senators, want an investigation into what happened between Kavanaugh and college professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party in high school, where Ford alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.. New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, issued a statement this week calling for an FBI investigation. “The sexual assault allegation made against Judge Kavanaugh deserves a thorough, professional investigation by the FBI before proceeding with any vote on his nomination to the highest court in the land,” Heinrich said. Heinrich is facing reelection this year and his two challengers both previously said they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh if given the chance.

Arnold-Jones apologizes to tribal leadership group for comments made on Fox News

A New Mexico congressional candidate publicly apologized to pueblo leaders for her comments on a national television news show. The apology came from Republican Congressional District 1 candidate Janice Arnold-Jones at an All Pueblo Council of Governors event on Thursday morning for state and federal candidates. Before the candidates’ speeches to the council began, tribal leaders brought up the comments Arnold-Jones made on a Fox News show weeks earlier about her opponent Deb Haaland. “Today, the All Pueblo Council of Governors addressed the recent remarks by Republican congressional candidate Janice Arnold Jones in which she questioned the ethnicity of her Democrat opponent, Deb Haaland of Laguna Pueblo,” according to a statement from the council. “The APCG took issue with her remarks and advised her that many of the Governors were offended.

UNM to reevaluate IPRA policy after NM Political Report complaint

The University of New Mexico is reevaluating its policy of charging for electronic copies of public records on a per-page basis in response to a reprimand from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. In an email to NM Political Report, the school’s Office of University Counsel said the UNM public records custodian is “evaluating the fee structure” for fulfilling requests of electronic records. Associate University Counsel Patrick Hart also wrote that the public records department will suspend the policy and practice of charging $0.38 a page for electronic records through the end of September. The change comes after the state Attorney General’s office issued a determination letter in response to a complaint filed by NM Political Report. NM Political Report filed the complaint after the UNM’s Custodian of Public Records billed $0.38 a page for an electronic file that contained more than 1,600 pages.

NM Supreme Court strikes down straight-party voting

The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously struck down a controversial proposal to add a straight-party option to November’s ballot. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced last month that she would reinstate an option on November’s ballot to allow people to vote for all candidates of a given party with one mark on the ballot. That decision was challenged by the Libertarian and Republican parties of New Mexico, along with a Utah-based political action committee, a non-profit advocate group for independent candidates and one Democratic write-in candidate. On Wednesday, Chief Justice Judith Nakamura called it a tough decision, but said only state lawmakers can add add straight-party voting to the ballot. “Until the legislature makes a decision one way or the other, the Secretary of State cannot,” Nakamura said.

On the (hiking) trail with Heinrich

Last weekend, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and his wife Julie pulled up to an Albuquerque trailhead and were greeted by a group of eager supporters with hiking poles and hydration packs at the ready. Almost immediately, Heinrich became an impromptu trail guide, educating his constituents on the different native plants along the trail and which animals use them as food sources. At least twice, unsuspecting hikers recognized the affable sportsman who has worked in Washington, D.C. since 2009. One family hiking towards the top of the trail passed the Heinrich entourage on its way back to the trail head. As the two groups converged, one woman looked at Heinrich and asked, “Is it really you?

Former ABQ city council candidate suing current councilor for releasing personal information

Update: Added a response from Don Harris

Almost a year after the Albuquerque municipal election, a former city council candidate is suing his former opponent, who won the council seat. Byron Powdrell, who owns and operates a local, non-profit radio station, filed a lawsuit against City Councilor Don Harris and a private investigator hired by Harris during the 2017 mayoral and city council election season. Powdrell alleges Harris and private investigator Joe Fanseca published the radio station owner’s private information, including his Social Security number, to a campaign website aimed at disparaging Powdrell. The website, which was registered to an email address for Harris’ law firm, has since been taken down. Harris told NM Political Report he had no comment as he had not been served with the lawsuit at the time of publication.