Protesters march to ‘stop the bans’ on abortion

A couple of hundred abortion rights activists gathered in Albuquerque Tuesday as part of nationwide “Stop the Bans” protests. Ellie Rushforth, the ACLU of New Mexico Reproductive Rights Attorney, told the crowd, “We must keep fighting because our lives depend on it.”

The crowd then marched through downtown Albuquerque, holding signs and chanting slogans in support of abortion access. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is running for U.S. Senate, attended the rally. “I’m still fuming over the fact that the U.S. Senate put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “I can’t help but think that if more women were serving in the U.S. Senate, the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings would have been very different.”

Representatives for members of the New Mexico congressional delegation also attended.

State urges higher vaccination rates, confirms measles case

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of measles in nearly five years. Last week, DOH said a one-year-old child from Sierra County is the first New Mexican infected with the disease since December of 2014. “We have worked with the clinic that treated the child and the patient’s family to identify people who may have been exposed so we can prevent more cases of the disease,” DOH Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel announced Friday. “We encourage everyone to check whether you and your family have been vaccinated to protect against measles. Immunization is the best tool we have to protect people from measles.”

Measles is highly infectious and was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, thanks to the development of a vaccine in the 1960s and a concerted effort by the Centers for Disease Control beginning in the late 1970s.

State looks to diversify economy, rely on ‘volatile’ oil and gas revenue less

This week, Intel announced it would hire 300 more employees. Those new hires would bring the number of employees at its massive Rio Rancho plant to around 1,500, well below the peak of nearly 7,000 employees, decades ago. Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia J. Keyes called it “good news” as the state tries to diversify its economy. Diversifying the economy has been a rallying cry for years, as the state has increasingly been reliant on oil and gas money to balance the state budget. If the most recent Legislative Finance Committee hearing last week is any indication, those efforts are still a work in progress.

Elections Roundup: Races take shape

Note: This is just a snippet of the Elections Roundup, which is sent by email. Sign up here to get the full version in your inbox. It’s a little more than 13 months until the 2020 primaries and we’re already getting a better sense of who will be running for what next year. In most races, at least. The Democratic field in the 3rd Congressional District continues to grow, two big-name Democrats are in the Senate race and speculation continues to swirl about if a top-tier Republican name will run for the open U.S. Senate seat.

Former U.S. Rep, Interior Secretary Manuel Luján Jr. dies

Former U.S. Representative and Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Manuel Luján Jr. died Friday morning. He was 90. A Republican, Luján was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1969, and served in that position for two decades. He began his congressional career representing half of the state, when New Mexico had just two congressional districts, and ended his time in office representing the Albuquerque area. When George H.W. Bush was elected president in 1989, he tapped Luján to serve in his cabinet as the Secretary of the Interior.

First public approval ratings show Lujan Grisham above water, but many have no opinion

A new poll is the first to show Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s approval rating. And while the number of registered New Mexico voters who approve of her job performance outnumber those who do not approve, nearly one-third of voters had no opinion. The poll by Morning Consult was conducted in the first three months of Lujan Grisham’s time in office and found that 41 percent of voters approved of her job performance while 33 percent disapproved. Another 28 percent declined to say how they felt or had no opinion. Lujan Grisham’s approval rating is higher than Susana Martinez’s approval rating when she left office.

Toulouse Oliver announces Senate run: ‘We need more women in Washington’

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced Wednesday she is running for the U.S. Senate. The Democrat has already won statewide races for Secretary of State twice and if she wins in 2020 would become the first woman to represent New Mexico in the U.S. Senate in the state’s history. In a slickly-produced video, Toulouse Oliver emphasized her personal history, including attending college as a single mother and graduating with “a pile of student debt.” She says that as Secretary of State she “took on the Koch brothers and won,” on campaign finance reform. She also said that she supports Medicare-for-all and supports “a Washington that doesn’t separate families at the border.”

In a separate statement announcing her run, Toulouse Oliver also says she supports the Green New Deal. “We need more women in Washington,” Toulouse Oliver said.

Armed vigilantes along border bring national attention

A group of armed, masked vigilantes who have held those crossing the border, including those seeking asylum, until Border Patrol arrived has brought national attention to New Mexico and the ongoing border debate. The far-right group which calls itself United Constitutional Patriots recorded members detaining men, women and children who crossed the U.S./Mexico border in New Mexico and broadcast it on Facebook last week. Their actions drew immediate condemnation from a range of New Mexico elected officials, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas, who said individuals “should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”

A spokesman for the governor’s office told NM Political Report they have been in contact with the AG, state police and local police about the group to stay informed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection wrote on Twitter, “#CBP does not endorse or condone private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson, meanwhile, appeared in a Facebook video with the group.

SOS says no to third attempt calling for referendum to reverse gun background check law

The third time was not the charm. For the third time in just over a month, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver rejected a Republican petition for a referendum to overturn the law that would require background checks for nearly all gun purchases. Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, submitted the second amended petition on April 12. The petition fixed a technical problem related to the filing. But the Secretary of State found the larger issue is still that the law is not eligible for a referendum under the state constitution according to Toulouse Oliver.

Clarkson announces run for Senate

A former Trump administration official announced Tuesday that he is running for the open U.S. Senate seat. Republican Gavin Clarkson announced he will run for the seat to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, the Democrat who said earlier this year that he would not seek a third term in the Senate. He is the first Republican to announce his candidacy. “I’m running to share the stories and aspirations of the ordinary people who make New Mexico extraordinary and who just want to see some sympathy in the Senate, and that will mean being in-state as often as possible, so I’m promising to visit every one of our state’s 33 counties at least once a year,” Clarkson said in a statement. He also mentioned his personal story, saying he lost “almost everything” in the 2008 financial crisis then moved to New Mexico “with one cent in my bank account” and started flipping houses—buying houses, fixing them up and selling them at a higher price.