Committee clears Luján on ethics complaint

The U.S. House Committee on Ethics unanimously dismissed an ethics complaint against Rep. Ben Ray Luján. The committee made the announcement Tuesday, and a spokesman for Luján praised the decision shortly after. In a statement, Joe Shoemaker said the allegations came from a “ politically motivated complaint, filed by a partisan outside group.” He added that Luján is “committed to abiding by House Rules and will continue to do so in the future.”

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative group, complained that Luján conducted campaign or political activity from the House floor, which is prohibited, after he sent a  fundraising email highlighting a sit-in he participated in on the House floor in 2016. During that sit-in, Democrats demanded a vote on legislation barring those on the federal no-fly list from legally purchasing guns. .

Big money dwarfs public finance in Albuquerque mayor’s race

Ricardo Chaves says he won’t accept any outside cash to help in his quest to become mayor of Albuquerque. “I won’t take any campaign money, because I don’t want to be beholden,” Chaves said in a recent interview. “I want to represent all the people not just the special interests.”

So the 81-year-old retired Albuquerque businessman who founded Parking Company of America is relying on a different pile of money to push his mayoral candidacy over the line: his own. To date, Chaves has pumped more than $500,000 into his campaign war chest, mostly through loans. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission.

Ranking says NM 2nd-most likely to switch parties in governor’s mansion

A national outlet says New Mexico has a very good chance of flipping from a Republican governor to a Democratic one. In fact, National Journal predicted this week that New Mexico is the second-most likely state to elect a governor from a different party than the incumbent in the coming year. Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third consecutive term because of term limits. From National Journal (story is behind a paywall):
Martinez’s favorability has faded as the economy stagnates in the Democratic-trending state. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former state Cabinet official backed by EMILY’s List, is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and general election next year.

NM SOS shoots down second info request from Trump voter commission

New Mexico’s Secretary of State still says she will not give up information to a controversial voter task force put together by President Donald Trump, after a second request. “As I’ve said before, I will never release the personally identifiable information of New Mexico voters protected by law, including their social security number and birthdate,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “Because the Commission has still not demonstrated that the data will be used for a lawful purpose under New Mexico law, provided any plan for ensuring that voters’ personal data will be secured, or explained how comparing insufficient data will produce any meaningful conclusions, I won’t release any New Mexicans’ voter information.”

The commission’s letter cited a federal court ruling on a case against the commission seeking to bar it from receiving the information from states throughout the country. The court ruled against that attempt. This is the second time Toulouse Oliver has denied  a request from the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Udall, Heinrich slam ‘skinny repeal’ effort

Ahead of another health care vote in the Senate, which came today after multiple Republican plans failed earlier in the week, New Mexico’s U.S. Senators took to the chamber’s floor for the debate. Sen. Tom Udall described the chaotic healthcare process as “healthcare roulette” with leadership deciding what version of a health care bill to vote on by the bounce of a ball. “Not even Republicans know what proposal is coming next and the American people certainly don’t know what’s coming,” Udall said. From what Udall knows of the latest plan, dubbed the “skinny repeal” effort, he said it would kick millions off of insurance rolls while raising premiums for those who still have insurance by 20 percent. Sen. Martin Heinrich also was critical of the “skinny repeal,” and the congressional process.

Poll: Trump’s job performance scores low among New Mexicans

President Donald Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico after his first few months in office is among the lowest in the nation. That’s according to newly-released results from Gallup, the venerable polling service that releases daily national poll numbers on Trump’s approval rating. In New Mexico, Trump’s approval rating sits at 37 percent, while 56 percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance. That approval rating is the 11th-lowest of any state, tied with Rhode Island. Nationwide in the same time period, between Trump’s inauguration and Junde 30, 40 percent of adults approved of Trump’s job performance while 54 percent disapproved.

Senate Majority Whip running for Lt. Gov.

A member of Democratic state senate leadership announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor. Michael Padilla, the Majority Whip in the state Senate, made the announcement early Monday morning. He says his focus while running for Lt. Gov. will be similar to his focus during his four years in the state senate. “Helping New Mexico end poverty will be the focus of my campaign for Lieutenant Governor,” Padilla said in a statement. Padilla mentioned early childhood development in his announcement.

Dunn announces he’s running for Congress to replace Pearce

Aubrey Dunn announced he will not run for reelection as state land commissioner and will instead run for congress in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Dunn, a Republican, made the announcement Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, also a Republican, announced earlier he will forego a run for an eighth term in office and instead run for governor. Dunn is so far the second Republican to announce candidacy for the seat, following state Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo. Other Republicans have said they are considering a run, including state Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell.

Martinez approval rating ticks up slightly, but she remains near bottom

Gov. Susana Martinez’s approval ratings bumped up slightly in the latest results from Morning Consult.

The poll showed that Martinez’s approval rating among registered voters moved back toward even, with 44 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval and 10 percent undecided. Martinez is the 10th-least popular governor out of 49 polled. In the Morning Consult’s April poll, 44 percent approved of Martinez’s job performance while 48 percent disapproved. The difference in results is within the poll’s margin of error. While Martinez is near the bottom of the ratings, she is well ahead of those at the very bottom—Kansas’ Sam Brownback and New Jersey’s Chris Christie have approval ratings of just 25 percent against disapproval ratings of 66 percent and 69 percent.

Who’s running for what (so far) in New Mexico?

With primary elections for many races a little less than a year away, candidates are already jockeying for positions. The top tier race in the state will be the race to replace Susana Martinez as governor. The Republican is barred from running for a third consecutive term by state law. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is the lone Republican candidate so far. Pearce said in a press call after announcing his candidacy that he believed Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry would not seek the position.