Senators criticize Trump’s process for choosing Supreme Court nominee

Both of New Mexico’s Democratic U.S. Senators signaled opposition to the process used by President Donald Trump to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall criticized the process and said Kavanaugh was chosen after being put on a “pre-approved list concocted by radical, far-right special interests that are committed to undermining a woman’s right to choose, health care protections, safeguards for workers and seniors, LGBTQ rights, and a host of other critical public protections that touch the lives of every New Mexican and every American.”

Udall said the Senate “should not consider this nomination legitimate until we return to a real advise and consent process as required by the Constitution.”

Heinrich was more circumspect, but still said in a statement, “I refuse to legitimize the broken system Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has created on President Trump’s behalf. We need to remedy both the political obstruction and broken rules that have led us into this terrible mess before confirming anymore nominees that will be tainted by it.”

Heinrich will face Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian Aubrey Dunn in the general election this fall. Rich praised the choice of Kavanaugh. “He has a strong record of upholding our constitution and laws on the federal bench, and I urge the U.S. Senate to act swiftly to hold hearings and vote on this nomination,” Rich said.

With likely SCOTUS shift, New Mexicans prepare for post-Roe landscape

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has served as a swing vote in the U.S. Supreme Court on some issues including the decision not to overturn Roe v. Wade, but a new, more conservative replacement could change that. If the ruling is overturned, each state would decide on the legality of abortion. New Mexico is one of ten states where a pre-Roe law means abortion would be illegal if the landmark case were overturned. Overturning Roe v. Wade has been a conservative goal for decades and Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told NPR this week that Kennedy’s retirement pushed them on the brink of success. “In New Mexico, we have an old statute on the books from pre Roe v. Wade,” explained State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces.

Poll: Lujan Grisham leads Pearce

A new poll shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham has a double-digit lead in the gubernatorial election. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for KOB-TV, found Lujan Grisham led Republican nominee Steve Pearce 51 percent to 38 percent, with 3 percent backing Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh. The poll asked likely voters who they would vote for if the election were held today. Lujan Grisham leads both among women—55 percent to 36 percent over Pearce—and men—47 percent to 30 percent over Pearce. The poll shows Walsh with the support of 5 percent of men and 2 percent of women.

What NM officials did, said in a whirlwind week of immigration news

The debate over enforcement of immigration law was front and center this week, with images of children separated from their parents and held in cages along the border in newspapers and TV news. The White House flip-flopped on its explanations and who was to blame, as shown by a damning video in the Washington Post. Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at stopping the same separations the White House said previously could only be ended by Congress. Even that didn’t stop the outcry, with critics pointing out that it would still allow family separations in some cases and that it would allow indefinite detention of families. While children would not be taken from their parents to be put in federal facilities, they would  be held together with their respective families until immigration prosecution could take place.

NM could see tax on internet sales after Supreme Court decision

A U.S. Supreme Court decision may open the door to the taxation of more internet sales in New Mexico. In a 5-4 decision Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court said states could tax sales on internet purchases from companies that do not have a physical presence in a state. The decision overturned a 1992 decision on catalogue-order companies that was later interpreted to include internet sales. The New Mexico Legislature passed a bill that would apply the state’s gross receipts tax to internet sales in 2017 as part of a suite of tax changes. That would bring in, by a conservative estimate, $20 million annually for the state.

Poll: Lujan Grisham leads Pearce in governor’s race

A new poll shows that Democrats lead in statewide races, while Republicans are currently in the lead in the race to keep the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by the Republican incumbent. KOB-TV first reported on the poll, which was released by Carroll Strategies Wednesday morning. The poll by Carroll Strategies shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leads 50.5 percent to 42.1 percent, while Libertarian Bob Walsh pulls in 3.1 percent (it isn’t clear yet if Walsh will appear on the general election ballot). Four percent of voters are undecided. Incumbent Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third term because of term limits.

DCCC poll shows close race in 2nd Congressional District

The Democratic campaign arm that seeks to flip the House released polling Tuesday that showed the race for the 2nd Congressional District in New Mexico is close. The memo, released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, shows Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell leads Democratic water attorney Xochitl Torres Small 45 percent to 43 percent in the Republican-leaning district. The release also looked at polling in ten other congressional districts. A memo, credited to DCCC chairman and New Mexico’s U.S. Representative in the 3rd Congressional District Ben Ray Luján, says the polling shows Democrats will be competitive in districts even where President Donald Trump won in 2016. This includes New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which Trump won 50.1 percent to 39.9 percent.

Moody’s downgrades NM bond ratings

A top financial rating firm downgraded the status of New Mexico’s general obligation bonds, citing large pension obligations and Medicaid costs. A rating downgrade means it will be more expensive for the state to borrow money. General obligation bonds, or GO bonds, are used to finance capital improvement projects, like building state buildings. Moody’s Investors Service announced the downgrade from Aa1 to Aa2 Tuesday. Aa2 is the third-highest rating at Moody’s, below AAA and Aa1, but is still considered an investment grade rating.

A way-too-early look at legislative races to watch

With the primary election in the rearview mirror, the winning candidates are already looking forward to the general election, in which New Mexicans will elect a new governor and at least two new members of Congress. But other races further down the ballot could have a more immediate impact on New Mexicans—and how much the new governor can get done in his or her first years in office. Currently, Democrats have a 38 to 32 advantage over Republicans in the state House. And Democrats think they can expand their majority. History shows the party that holds the White House typically loses ground in Congress.

Three Dem legislators lose in primaries

Three incumbent Democratic state House members lost in their primaries Tuesday according to unofficial numbers. In a Santa Fe area district, Carl Trujillo was perhaps the most embattled incumbent. A lobbyist accused him of sexual harassment last month, though Trujillo denied the allegations. He now faces an investigation by the state Legislature in accordance with the state’s new sexual harassment rules. Trujillo was beat out by former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Executive Director Andrea Romero.