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 one of the original hires 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.
Under President Donald Trump’s plan to send military troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would consult with the governors of border states to decide how many National Guard troops are needed. Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of DHS, made this announcement during a White House briefing on Wednesday. NM Political Report asked Gov. Susana Martinez’s office if she supports deploying troops along the border and if she had spoken with the White House about these plans. Her office did not respond by press time despite three emails to her public information officers. A spokesman did tell the Associated Press that she supported the move.
Autonomous vehicles are coming. Soon—and New Mexico needs to be ready. That was the message from a recent summit on autonomous, or driverless, vehicles organized by the state Department of Transportation. Local officials, technology experts and even industry representatives all agreed legislators need to understand the technology before changing laws or other policies. Earlier this year, Sen. James White, R-Albuquerque, introduced a memorial asking NMDOT to organize the summit and get New Mexico ready for autonomous vehicles.
The flood of campaign emails is over, and will recede into its normal trickle of one or two a day instead of three or four from every campaign every day. That’s because the deadline for federal races for the first quarter of the year was March 31. Those financial numbers will be available on April 15. The deadline for statewide, legislative and a host of other races was April 2. Those numbers are due on the state website on April 9.
Attorney General Hector Balderas says a controversial new question about citizenship on the U.S. Census questionnaire is illegal. Balderas joined a coalition of state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit to stop it. The attorneys general, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors sued in federal court today, saying the question would result in an illegal undercount of the population. The fear is that the question would cause an undercounting of those that fear the federal government would use the information to arrest or even deport non-citizens. The coalition argues the U.S. Constitution calls a count to determine “the whole number of persons in each state”—and has nothing to do with a person’s legal status.
The Legislative Finance Committee started the process to create a task force focused on preventing school shootings. State Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, made the motion after a morning full of testimony from state, school and law enforcement officials about ways to prevent school shootings. The Legislative Council will decide on the makeup of the task force during its April meeting. The vote came after Munoz said the Legislature should start the process for an extraordinary session for school security, saying that there was no time to wait to address the issue. At the hearing Thursday, many people recalled the December shooting at Aztec High School that left two students and the shooter dead.
There was some big news in the land of elections over the last week here in New Mexico. The biggest news was probably two Republican member sof the House who decided not to run for another term: House Minority Leader Nate Gentry and Sarah Maestas Barnes. Both are from Albuquerque. They are also both in districts that increasingly lean towards Democrats and would have been tough for Republicans to hold even with the incumbency advantage. You can see more analysis of these and other legislative seats here.
In the past few weeks, I noticed something from Steve Pearce’s campaign. Twice, staffers posted on social media that in the governor’s race, he is “tied” in the gubernatorial race against Michelle Lujan Grisham. And this week, when replying to the story about his controversial comments on same-sex marriage from 2008, his campaign manager asserted the video came out because national Democrats “are panicking because this race is tied.”
Democrats still have a contested primary, while Pearce has no opponent in June. I asked Pearce’s campaign manager why he said that, and he pointed to Google Ads by Lujan Grisham’s campaign asserting that the race is tied. “I’d assume it’s one of their internal polls but that’s a guess,” Paul Smith wrote in an email.
In recently-rediscovered video, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce said same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and marriage solely to pay for health insurance for those who have AIDS. American Bridge 21st Century PAC, which specializes in opposition research against Republican candidates, unearthed the video and provided it to HuffPost. Pearce is the lone Republican running for governor in New Mexico. The video was reportedly recorded in Carrizozo on Sept. 20, 2008.
New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District isn’t the safe territory it used to be for Republicans, according to election handicappers. Most experts have put the Republican stronghold in the “Likely Republican” category. This is both because of the national environment—there are many more competitive Republican seats compared to Democratic seats—and the fact that the incumbent is not running for reelection. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is instead running for governor. The Cook Political Report offers the most aggressive prediction.
Jon Hendry is out from his post with the union that represents film and television crews in New Mexico. Hendry resigned after a woman filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed her. Another woman came forward and added her name to the lawsuit. A statement provided to media said it was a “voluntary resignation.”
He had already left his post as head of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, then on Sunday came news that he left his role in the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 480. That same day, dozens of union members attended the union’s monthly meeting, which was the first time the union met after the allegations became public.