Matthew Reichbach is the editor of the NM Political Report. The former founder and editor of the NM Telegram, Matthew was also a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation and formerly published, “The Morning Word,” a daily political news summary for NM Telegram and the Santa Fe Reporter.Matthew has appeared as a panelist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ New Mexico Chapter’s panel on covering New Mexico politics and the legislature.A native New Mexican from Rio Rancho, Matthew’s family has been in New Mexico since the 1600s.
A federal judge said U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce can use money raised for federal office in his campaign for governor, giving his campaign a big boost. The court order means that Pearce’s campaign coffers will grow by nearly $1 million, perhaps putting his campaign at over $2 million cash on hand. Pearce had $911,000 cash on hand in his last campaign finance report six weeks ago. The preliminary injunction also means that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver cannot enforce state donation limits to the funds Pearce raised for his federal campaigns. “The Secretary of State and her team are reviewing the details of the judge’s decision and will then consider next steps,” Secretary of State spokesman Joey Keefe said.
Albuquerque Mayor-Elect Tim Keller announced new leadership positions for his administration this week, including an interim police chief. Keller announced on Monday that Sarita Nair will be the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. Nair is one of multiple members of his staff in the State Auditor’s office that will hold key positions in his administration. Nair will be the first woman to serve in the position in Albuquerque’s history. She worked in the State Auditor’s office as Chief Government Accountability Officer and General Counsel under Keller.
President Donald Trump made a number of remarks during an event honoring Navajo Code Talkers that have drawn condemnation. Trump met with three Navajo Code Talkers in the Oval Office, in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was the president responsible for the Trail of Tears, a brutal removal of Native Americans from lands in the South. In all, thousands of children, women and men died and tens-of-thousands were displaced to make way for more slave plantations. There, he insulted a U.S. Senator calling her “Pocahontas.”
At the event, three Navajo Code Talkers attended the White House event and asked the federal government to create a museum dedicated to the role Code Talkers undertook during World War II.
One state representative says the Legislature needs to do more to address sexual harassment. Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Los Lunas, wrote a letter to leadership in both the House and Senate, saying there is an “anything-goes” culture in the Roundhouse. She described “deliberate, often serial, offensive actions intended to intimidate, humiliate, or coerce” in the Roundhouse. She said that she has “personally experienced harassment in her time as a legislator.”
“I have also witnessed instances of harassment where colleagues and lobbyists have been subject to repeated profane comments and innuendo,” Fajardo wrote. “I heard stories of sickening quid pro quo propositions where legislators offered political support in exchange for sexual favors.” Fajardo did not name who harassed her or others.
The recent Albuquerque and Las Cruces municipal elections, along with other races nationwide, could signal a warning for Republicans in the 2018 elections. The pendulum looks to be swinging from Republican gains during the Barack Obama years to Democratic gains in response to Donald Trump, according to Brian Sanderoff, the president of the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling, Inc.
“I think the political mood right now benefits Democrats,” he said. “And I think part of that is due to the fact that a Republican is in the White House, has lower approval ratings and all the dynamics that go with that.”
In New Mexico, 2018 will be an important election year with the governor’s race, a U.S. Senate seat, three U.S. congressional districts and a number of other statewide positions up for grabs. Locally, Tim Keller’s comprehensive victory in Albuquerque for mayor, the flipping of a previously Republican-held Albuquerque city council seat and the progressive sweep of the Las Cruces city council show how national shifts are reflected in New Mexico politics. “That’s American politics, du jour, that it goes back and forth,” University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson said.
A top Democratic gubernatorial candidates says a Lt. Gov. candidate should step down because of sexual harassment claims from a decade ago. Michelle Lujan Grisham told the Associated Press she believed State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, should not run for the state’s second-highest position because of the claims.
In New Mexico, the governor and lieutenant governor of major parties are each nominated separately in party primaries, then run as a ticket in the general election. The allegations date back to before Padilla’s political career, when he worked for the city of Albuquerque at the city’s 911 call center. Padilla faced a suit in federal court from five women for creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment. Padilla resigned, but denied the allegations.
Some resources from national Democrats are trickling into New Mexico in an attempt to swing the state’s 2nd Congressional District from Republicans to Democrats. The national party is doing that as many predict a “wave” election for Democrats, and a chance to return the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats. To do that, Democrats will need to win in traditionally-Republican districts and retain all their own districts. This puts New Mexico on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s radar. Next year’s election will see two New Mexico congressional districts without an incumbent running for reelection.
A jury found former State Senator Phil Griego guilty on five of the eight charges he faced after a two-week long corruption trial on Thursday. The jury found Griego guilty on charges of one count each of fraud, bribery, having an interest in a state contract and violating ethical principles of public office. The jury found Griego not guilty on a second charge of fraud, filing false financial disclosure and perjury. Some charges include at least one year of jail time and up to 17 and a half years. This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information comes in.
Both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators back the idea of an investigation into sexual harassment by Sen. Al Franken. Thursday morning, Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden said Franken groped her and wrote a kissing scene in a sketch just so he could kiss her while on a USO tour. She described it as sexual assault. The tour took place before Franken, a Democrat, ran for office. He has cited the tour as a reason why he decided to run for Senate. In the post-Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore accusation landscape, the reactions were swift, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for an ethics investigation.
The governor is soliciting applications to replace Tim Keller as State Auditor. Keller was elected mayor of Albuquerque on Tuesday, and he will be sworn in on Dec. 1. Once he resigns as State Auditor, Gov. Susana Martinez will be able to appoint a replacement who will serve through the next election in 2018. Justine Freeman, a spokeswoman for the State Auditor’s Office, said Keller will step down on Nov.