Elections Roundup: Early voting in high gear

New Mexicans now have a lot more places to vote early. This Saturday, early voting expanded to more locations. Previously, you could only vote early at your county clerk’s offices. Check out your county clerk website to see where early voting locations are open. This is the short version of the weekly Elections Roundup.

Martinez, other GOP guvs meet with, praise Trump on immigration, border

Gov. Susana Martinez praised President Donald Trump for his compassion during a dinner at the White House to discuss immigration Monday night. According to a recording of remarks by Trump and the invited governors, Martinez said U.S.-Mexico border problems extend to other states throughout the country, and then added, “I also admire the compassion that you have for the DACAs and the compassion that you’ve expressed for the children who had no choice to come here.”

Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in Sept. 2017. The program protected about 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as children, provided they registered with the federal government and did not have run-ins with the law. Since Trump ended the program, it has been the subject of legal wrangling in Congress, which has not passed a fix for the program.

Ben Ray Luján: ‘We’re going to fight for every inch’

This weekend, NM Political Report sat down with Congressman Ben Ray Luján for an interview. Luján was back in the state, a day after voting against the Farm Bill, which failed because conservative Republicans and Democrats voted against the proposal. Luján is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization devoted to electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives. NM Political Report spoke to Lujan about the 2018 elections, immigration and more. The following Q&A is edited for clarity and length.

Cervantes goes on attack against Lujan Grisham

Joe Cervantes took off the gloves in the gubernatorial race and is airing an ad attacking apparent Democratic frontrunner Michelle Lujan Grisham. The ads target Lujan Grisham for some of her votes while in Congress and contracts a company she ran received from the state. The ad also refers to her as “Grisham” instead of her full last name, Lujan Grisham. Victor Reyes, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham’s campaign, called the ad “ridiculous and full of falsehoods.”

The votes were regarding rolling back parts of the Affordable Care Act. She voted along with 75 other Democrats and most Republicans to end a panel designed to find Medicare savings.

House candidates report how much they raised ahead of primary

Some incumbent state Representatives are raising and spending big money to stave off competitors in the upcoming primaries. In other races, open seats are proving expensive for those seeking to replace legislators bowing out of another term at the Roundhouse. The candidates filed campaign finance reports on Monday that showed their financial activity between April 3 and May 9. Related: Dem Guv candidates raise big money as primary nears
Incumbents facing challengers in the primary
Once of the most-watched primaries is in House District 46 in northern New Mexico. Incumbent Carl Trujillo spent the most of any legislative candidate in his attempt to hold off former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities executive director Andrea Romero.

Dem Guv candidates raise big money as primary nears

Two of the three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor have over $1.5 million cash on hand for the final stretch before the primary election on June 5. Early voting has already started. State Sen. Joseph Cervantes has now loaned his own campaign over $2 million and raised only about $15,000 from others. He now has $1.65 million cash on hand. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised over $410,000 and spent nearly $640,000 between April 3 and May 7.

Investigation, new calls for Trujillo to resign over sexual harassment allegations

Members of the state House announced a panel will investigate sexual harassment claims against State Rep. Carl Trujillo. Three  of his colleagues have already called on him to resign. The investigative subcommittee, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans from the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee, will work with outside counsel and staff to investigate the allegations by Laura Bonar against the Santa Fe Democrat. Last week, Bonar said that Trujillo sexually harassed her. Trujillo responded by saying the “charges are lies” and withstood calls for him to resign.

This acequia life

From the porch near the house, I see Papa in the distance, shovel on his shoulder, his outline as familiar as his presence. Egrets graze along the water that moves in and across the field, alfalfa plants brightening the morning with a welcoming green. The swallows — las golondrinas — fly down and across the water, grasping at food too small for me to see. And Papa walks his field, slower now with age, his boots soaking up water, wearing them as the only lovely he knows. This originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.

Animal protection advocate says state representative sexually harassed her

An advocate for an animal rights organization says a state representative should step down because he sexually harassed her. The advocate, Laura Bonar, is the Chief program and policy officer for Animal Protection Voters and Animal Protection of New Mexico according to the organization’s website. She said in a post on BravaNM,  a platform for Democratic women, that while she lobbied for animal protection legislation at the New Mexico Legislature, Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe,  propositioned her and touched her inappropriately. She added, in the letter addressed to Trujillo “held your power as a state legislator over my head, making it clear that passion for my cause would get me nowhere unless I demonstrated ‘passion’ for you.”

Rep. Carl Trujillo responded Wednesday afternoon saying “these charges are lies” and he vowed to not resign and stay in the race for reelection. She said the events occurred during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, and when she objected he “stalled work on animal protection legislation.”

Her attorney, Levi Minagle, told NM Political Report that “the letter speaks for itself” and Bonar will not be speaking further at this time.

Teachers unions say notorious Project Veritas targeting them—including in NM

A conservative group that films undercover videos of political opponents targeted a New Mexico teachers union, according to union officials. Project Veritas, funded by an array of conservative groups with ties to Charles and David Koch and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is known for guerilla-style, heavily edited videos aimed at harming political opponents. Earlier this year, the group made headlines when a woman associated with it raised false claims of an alleged sexual relationship with Roy Moore, the failed Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama. The woman’s attempt to set up a Washington Post reporter failed when the paper fact-checked her claims and discovered her ties to Project Veritas. Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, says her union was contacted by someone associated with Project Veritas.