Luján elected to House leadership post

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat, entering his sixth term in office, was unanimously elected the Assistant Democratic Leader for the next Congress. In a statement, Luján said he was “honored” to be selected for that position, which makes him the number four Democrat in the House. “As Assistant Democratic Leader, I will welcome ideas from all corners of our Caucus to build our agenda, protect our majority, hold the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans accountable, and make a positive difference in people’s lives,” the congressman said. “Just like the midterm elections, the road ahead won’t be easy. But I’m confident that if we are all willing to come to the table, listen, ask the hard questions, and put in the work, we will successfully meet this moment.”

Luján led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a group tasked with electing Democrats to the U.S. House, throughout the past two election cycles.

Heinrich: ‘White House is attempting to cover up a murder’

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and two other Democrats want a public report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Heinrich says that by not saying Saudi Arabia was responsible for Kashogghi’s death, the “White House is attempting to cover up a murder.”

Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in October. While Saudi officials at first denied Khashoggi was dead, they later admitted he died in the consulate. The New York Times reported the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing. President Donald Trump disputed the finding, and received pushback from lawmakers of both parties, including some who said the president lied about the findings by U.S. intelligence.

Secretary of State talks turnout, support for same-day voter registration

The staff at the Secretary of State’s office is still working on elections as the final statewide canvass approaches next week, but also looking forward to the upcoming legislative session. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver spoke to reporters Tuesday about the elections and legislation she will back in next year’s session when lawmakers meet. Toulouse Oliver said she was “very, very, very pleased with the overall turnout,” which was the highest midterm turnout in decades in New Mexico. She questioned if the increased midterm turnout was due to the current political climate or efforts by the government and others to facilitate voting or a combination of both. “We had a very active, engaged electorate this year in New Mexico this cycle, and that’s a positive, that’s a plus,” she said.

NM near bottom of wage growth over last year, since Great Recession

New Mexico’s personal wage growth continues to lag behind the country as a whole and the region. The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that through the 2nd quarter of 2018, New Mexico’s personal income has grown just 1.1 percent since the Great Recession. That’s compared the national average of 1.9 percent. Looking at just the most recent year, through the end of the 2nd quarter of 2018, New Mexico also saw just a 1.1 percent growth. The West is home to many  states with the largest growth rates, both since 2007 and in the most recent year.

2nd CD race ranks among the most-expensive in NM history

The southern New Mexico congressional district won by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small may prove to be the most-expensive race in state history. Torres Small defeated Republican Yvette Herrell and will replace Republican Steve Pearce, who ran for governor instead of seeking another term. As anyone who watched TV in the weeks ahead of the election, candidates and outside groups targeted the race in the national battle over the U.S. House of Representatives. In all, candidates and outside groups spent $12.7 million on the race according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with several weeks of spending from candidates not due until Dec. 6.

Herrell sues to impound Doña Ana County absentee ballots

Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell filed a suit Tuesday, asking a judge to order the impound of absentee ballots in a key southern New Mexico county after she lost to Xochitl Torres Small in last week’s election. Herrell filed the suit in state district court and asked the court to order State Police to take control of absentee ballots and associated documents from Doña Ana County. She also wants an investigation into “reports of chain-of-custody issues and other improprieties” though she provided no evidence of problems.

The Doña Ana County Canvassing Board unanimously certified the results of last week’s election hours before Herrell filed the suit. In the filing, Herrell claims she was “stripped of [the] title” of winner of the election because of the results from the Doña Ana County absentee ballots. Some media outlets had already projected Herrell to win, but at least one, the Albuquerque Journal, did not know of the absentee ballots.

Turnout in NM jumped up from past midterms, especially in Dem-leaning counties

While turnout increased statewide, Democratic counties with large populations saw among the biggest gains on Election Day. Turnout statewide in 2018 was 55 percent, compared to 40.35 percent in 2014 and 52.71% in 2010. In 2018, 693,893 voters cast ballots*, the most of any midterm in state history. This is the easy way to explain how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham won by a large margin, and also why Democrats all the way down the ballot had a successful night. Digging further down into the numbers, it shows just how impressive turnout was in some districts, while in others turnout lagged.

Herrell goes on Fox News to dispute vote count

Republican Yvette Herrell campaigned for the 2nd Congressional District on a Trump-like platform—pro-border wall and speaking about illegal immigration—and appeared alongside Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. And after narrowly losing the congressional race to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small in Tuesday’s election, Herrell showed up on President Donald Trump’s favorite TV network Saturday. The state legislator told a Fox News host that  she isn’t conceding to Torres Small, and she questioned the counting of absentee ballots that provided the final margin of victory for her opponent. Herrell spoke on “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” a program Trump himself appeared on before. According to Herrell, an hour after some media outlets called the race and she gave her victory speech, the Secretary of State’s office called and said, “They had magically found 4,000 ballots that had not been counted.” She said about an hour and a half later, the office said there were an additional 4,000 ballots.

Huge absentee numbers helped lead to delay in Doña Ana County count

All eyes were on Doña Ana County Wednesday night, as elections observers waited for county election workers to tally thousands of absentee ballots. When the county released the results for the 2nd Congressional District race on Wednesday night, the 6,411 to 1,847 margin gave Democrat Xochitl Torres Small a lead larger than the likely number of provisional ballots left. Many asked why it took election workers in Doña Ana County so long to count the votes. It came down to a lack of workers and an unforeseen influx of absentee votes. The county released the results of 8,350 absentee ballots Wednesday night (only 8,258 of which included votes for the razor-thin 2nd Congressional District race).

Xochitl Torres Small wins the 2nd Congressional District race

With absentee ballots in Doña Ana County finally counted, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small will be the next U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. Torres Small needed a little over 1,800 more votes than Republican Yvette Herrell to win the race before the county’s absentee ballots were included in the vote totals. Torres Small blew past that number and netted an additional 4,564 votes, which gave her a 50.69 percent to 49.31 percent lead over her Republican opponent. In all, there were 8,258 absentee ballots for the race. Related: Democrats take back governorship

Wednesday evening, the Associated Press called the race for Torres Small.