Register and vote on the same day? Dems want to make it a reality

Right now, if New Mexicans want to participate in elections, they have to register four weeks before Election Day. But legislative efforts look to change that. Right now, if New Mexicans want to participate in elections, they have to register four weeks before Election Day. But legislative efforts look to change that. State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, is the Senate sponsor of a same-day registration bill, which he says will help the state reach its “obligation to citizens to enfranchise their voting rights.”

“Year after year, we meet people who really are not plugged in or tuned into an election until really close to it, at which point it’s too late for people to register to vote,” he said.

Gov. Susana Martinez

Poll: Low approval ratings for Martinez when she left office

Gov. Susana Martinez left office with low approval ratings, according to Morning Consult.

Meanwhile, both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators’ approval ratings remained over 40 percent, with a high amount of voters with no opinion. The pollster found Martinez’s approval rating among all registered voters in her final three months in office was just 35 percent, while 49 percent disapproved of the Republican’s job performance. That was the ninth-highest disapproval rating among all 50 governors in the same time period. In her final year in office, Martinez’s approval rating remained in the mid-30 percent range. Senators

Martin Heinrich easily won re-election to the U.S. Senate in a three-way race in November, defeating Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian, and former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson.

Herrell running for Congress again in 2020

A day after Republican Yvette Herrell closed the door on her 2018 campaign, she announced she would run for the seat again in 2020 and challenge Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, who narrowly defeated Herrell in November. “I’m running for Congress because I believe New Mexicans deserve a Representative who will work hard every day to keep growing our economy, safeguard our way of life from government overreach, and push for solutions and funding to protect our borders,” Herrell said. Herrell, who decided not to run for reelection to the state House of Representatives when she announced her congressional campaign last year, will likely face opposition in the Republican primary. The district has consistently voted for Republicans, only electing Democrats twice since the state earned a third congressional district in 1983. Herrell came out on top during a four-way Republican primary in 2018, which included former Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Monty Newman.

Herrell finishes review of ballots, won’t challenge election results

After inspecting absentee ballots from the 2nd Congressional District’s most-populous county, Republican Yvette Herrell decided not to challenge the results of the election she lost to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small in November. Herrell announced the news Monday, the deadline to challenge the results. Torres Small took the oath of office and was sworn into Congress last week. “I did not believe that there were reasons to contest the election, but I did strongly feel that there were enough claims of irregularities to warrant a full review, and that we might learn things that could be of use to State House and Senate Committees as they continually try to update and improve our election laws,” according to Herrell’s statement. Torres Small’s office declined to comment.

NM Political Report launched four years ago today

Four years ago today, we formally welcomed readers to the site—and a lot has changed since then. When we began, Republicans held a majority of the state House and Gov. Susana Martinez had just easily won reelection. The state Senate was led by Michael Sanchez. Barack Obama was still president. And things have changed over the years at NM Political Report as well.

Report: NM hardest-hit state by government shutdown

New Mexico is the state hardest hit by the now two-week-old government shutdown. That’s according to WalletHub, which found the District of Columbia is the only place in the United States more affected by the shutdown. New Mexico receives the fourth-highest amount of federal contract dollars per capita, behind only Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia as well as the third-highest percentage of families receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. New Mexico’s two national laboratories, Los Alamos and Sandia, are not directly impacted by the current government shutdown, because of a 2018 appropriations bill to fund the U.S. Department of Energy even when other federal workers are sent home without pay. The U.S. Department of Defense is also not impacted.

2018 Top Stories #5: Torres Small wins 2nd CD race

Note: All week we will be counting down the top ten stories of 2018, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See them all here as they come in! New Mexico was the site of one of the closest and most hard-fought congressional races in the nation. Ultimately, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small pulled the upset and won the race for the state’s most conservative congressional district by just 3,722 votes. Outside political groups, such as PACs and Super PACs, on both sides poured millions of dollars into the southern-New Mexico race. And neither Torres Small nor Republican candidate Yvette Herrell had a free ride in the primary.

Latest projections for state budget: $1.1 billion in ‘new money’

Analysts told lawmakers projections show New Mexico will have $1.1 billion in “new money” to spend compared to last year. But they also urged caution on how to spend that money, given the state’s reliance on volatile oil and gas revenues and the need to replace the money legislators used money from various state programs in recent years. Members of the Legislative Finance Committee, which hears regular budget updates throughout the year, were briefed on the numbers from their chief economist and members of outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez’s cabinet. The sky-high budget numbers were slightly lower than the August forecast, but still much higher than the state has seen since 2005, before the Great Recession of the late 2000s. The budget boom doesn’t necessarily mean that legislators will fund new recurring programs.

Committee chairwoman, and House Appropriations and Finance Committee chairwoman, Patty Lundstrom, outlined in the most-recent LFC newsletter where the money would likely go.

Candidates report spending in high-dollar elections

Both federal and state candidates filed campaign finance reports this week, showing how much they spent on their races this year. The reports showed several very high-cost races. Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham spent nearly twice as much as her Republican opponent on the way to her victory in last month’s elections, and spending by the two exceeded $14 million. In all, Lujan Grisham spent over $9.5 million, while Steve Pearce spent just under $4.9 million. Lujan Grisham’s total includes money spent during a primary, which she easily won, while Pearce didn’t face a Republican opponent.

Lujan Grisham’s transition members on education, Indian affairs

After two terms of clashing with the governor, teachers unions will have a loudervoice, at least during the transition period. Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham is rushing toward her inauguration on Jan. 1 and is working with various people to fill her administration in different areas, including education and Indian Affairs. Previously: Lujan Grisham names transition team for environment, energy and water

Earlier in November, Lujan Grisham named former New Mexico Governor Garrey Carruthers, former Santo Domingo Governor Everett Chavez and Principal and CEO of the Native American Community Academy Kara Bobroff as co-chairs of the Education and Indian Affairs transition committee. Last week, Lujan Grisham named more people to her transition team.