SOS rejects petition for referendum to reverse background check law

For the second time, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver rejected a petition to take a gun background check law to the voters. House Republican leaders hoped to use a voter referendum to overturn a law passed this year, requiring background checks for most gun sales in the state of New Mexico. New Mexico generally does not allow for voter referendums. But the state constitution allows, under limited circumstances, for voters to attempt to overturn a newly passed law. Toulouse Oliver said the current proposal does not meet those limited circumstances. She cites the state constitution in saying to determine if the referendum qualifies, it must “[bear] a valid, reasonable relationship to the preservation of public peace, health or safety.”

Toulouose Oliver said she “underwent the process of carefully examining the legislative history, the contemporaneous declarations of the legislature and the conditions sought to be remedied by [the law].”

In March, Toulouse Oliver also listed a number of technical objections to the Republican call for a referendum.

Who is running for Senate? For CD3?

Just about two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced that he would not run for re-election. Nearly as soon as he announced his decision, a chain reaction began.  Speculation on who would replace him—and who would run to fill the spots of those eyeing Udall’s seat. Note: This story was sent out Tuesday as part of the NM Political Report Elections Roundup. Sign up for the free email.

Tempests and fisticuffs: The history of NM’s open U.S. Senate races

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced last month that he will not seek a third U.S. Senate term. The attention quickly turned to who would be Udall’s replacement. So far, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan has said he will run, and Attorney General Hector Balderas said he won’t. It’s easy for political reporters to get caught up in the races. But a look back in history can be instructive as well.

NM’s minimum wage will be $12 per hour (eventually)

With a stroke of her pen, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham set into motion New Mexico’s first minimum wage increase in a decade. Lujan Grisham signed SB 437 into law Monday afternoon, bumping the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $9.00 per hour by the beginning of 2020. Then by 2023 the rate will increase to $12 per hour. “This session, the Legislature sent a clear signal: We will not tolerate poverty wages in New Mexico. And this administration is putting working families first,” Lujan Grisham said.

Luján: ‘I’m running to be your next United States senator’

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running for Senate. The six-term congressman from northern New Mexico announced his candidacy for the open U.S. Senate seat in a video from his family farm in Nambé on Monday morning. “I’m running to be your next United States senator,” Luján said. “I’ve been humbled by all of the outreach telling me to run and it’s been an honor to serve you in the House, where we’ve accomplished a lot together.”

After listing some of his accomplishments, including that he “led the effort to win back the House,” the Democrat turned his attention towards the Senate. “To move forward, we’ve got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress,” he said.

Balderas: ‘I’ve decided to pass’ on U.S. Senate run

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Thursday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Balderas made the announcement on a classic rock morning show in Albuquerque. “I’ve decided to pass on that position and pass on running for the U.S. Senate,” Balderas said, while a guitar riff played in the background on the “Erika Viking & The Hoff In The Morning” show. Many political observers thought Balderas would consider running and might be a top tier candidate in the Democratic primary. Speculation intensified earlier this week when a spokesman said he would make an announcement Thursday morning.

Gov. signs same-day voter registration bill

New Mexico voters will be able to register to vote or change their information on Election Day now thatGov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a same-day registration bill into law Wednesday. In a statement after signing SB 672, the governor called the law “a victory for democracy.”

New Mexico is the 18th state (plus the District of Columbia) to allow same-day voter registration. The law will not go into effect until 2021, so it will not be in place for next year’s presidential election. And the law will not allow voters to change their party affiliation during a primary election. To change their registration at the polls, voters will be required to show identification.

Luján ‘seriously’ looking at running for Senate

Ben Ray Luján wants New Mexicans to know he’s seriously contemplating running to replace Tom Udall in the U.S. Senate. Emphasis on “seriously.”

Luján is in his sixth term in the U.S. House, and he’s watched other New Mexico representatives move on to other positions. Martin Heinrich won election to the U.S. Senate in 2012. Both Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham ran for governor in 2018. Now with Tom Udall leaving the Senate in 2020, Luján may vacate the same seat his predecessor left over a decade ago to once again follow his path to the Senate.

Who might run to replace Tom Udall in the Senate?

After U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced he was not seeking a third term in office, speculation immediately began over who would run to replace him in 2020. Hours after Udall’s announcement, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the seat from “Safe Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.” That means the political prognosticating outlet believes something out of the ordinary would have to happen for Democrats to lose the seat. While Udall and his colleague in the U.S. Senate, Martin Heinrich, each won their seats in races without an incumbent, it is exceedingly rare for that to happen in New Mexico. So it’s no surprise that the list of Democrats who could run to replace Udall is lengthy, even after Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller took himself out of the running. Some high profile political figures that have either said they are considering a run, or are said to be considering a run are below.

Udall will not run for reelection to U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced Monday that he will not run for reelection to the  U.S. Senate in 2020, saying, “The worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them, rather than the people they represent.”

He said in a YouTube video, with a transcript on Medium, that he feels in his final two years in office he will be able to “get so much more done to help reverse the damage done to our planet, end the scourge of war, and to stop this president’s assault on our democracy and our communities” without running a campaign for what would have been a third term. Related: Who might run to replace Tom Udall in the Senate? Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2008, Udall has pushed for environmental legislation and for legislation to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The announcement by Udall opens up a Senate race in a state that increasingly leans Democratic. Democrats won every statewide office and all three congressional seats in 2018 and hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.