Just months before Donald Trump’s surprise victory to the nation’s top office, Gov. Susana Martinez penned an op-ed about a bright spot in New Mexico’s otherwise weak economy. That bright spot is also a geographical location—the border. “We are quickly positioning our state as a gateway of international trade throughout the Americas,” Martinez wrote in June, “and we are embracing our newly found leadership role, which wouldn’t be possible without the cross-border relationships we’ve built.” Related: Why Trump would almost certainly be violating the Constitution if he continues to own his businesses (by ProPublica) Last year, for example, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, respectively, ranked as the two metropolitan areas in the nation with the highest economic growth in exports. In 2012 and 2014, New Mexico also led the nation in export growth. Nearly half of these exports—45 percent—are shipped south of the border.
Years of budget cuts to the state’s Offices of the Public Defender came to a head this week in a rural town in southeast New Mexico. A judge found New Mexico’s lead public defender in contempt of court earlier this week after his office failed to appear in five cases in a Lovington district court. District Court Judge Gary Clingman found Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur in contempt on Monday and issued a $5,000 fine after Baur failed to represent clients in five different criminal cases. Related: Citing ‘resistance’ top Public Defender resigns
The notices of non-appearance, Baur said, stem from a strained public defender’s office. “We really cannot effectively represent people,” Baur told NM Political Report.
Hillary Clinton officially won New Mexico and its five electoral votes, after certification of results by the State Canvassing Board Tuesday. The board also certified the need for three recounts in legislative races, one of which heads into the recount with just a nine vote advantage. In the official results, 804,043 voters cast ballots, or 62.4 percent of the 1,289,414 voters who were registered in time to vote in the general election. Hillary Clinton received 48.26 percent of the votes cast in the presidential race, while Republican Donald Trump received 40.04 percent. Trump, however, received the most votes in enough states to win the presidency.
Albuquerque Police Department officials have altered and, in some cases, deleted videos that showed several controversial incidents, including at least two police shootings, the department’s former records supervisor has alleged in a sworn affidavit. Three officers’ body camera videos that captured events surrounding the fatal shooting of 19-year-old suspected car thief Mary Hawkes in April 2014 were either altered or partially deleted, according to former APD employee Reynaldo Chavez’s nine-page affidavit. Also alleged is that surveillance camera video from a salon showing APD officers shooting Jeremy Robertson, a law enforcement informant and suspected probation violator, in June 2014 bore “the tell-tale signs that it has been altered and images that had been captured are now deleted. One of the deleted images captured the officers shooting Jeremy Robertson.”
This piece originally appeared at NM In Depth and is reprinted at NM Political Report with permission. Chavez also said that ‘SD cards’ from cameras were easy to make disappear, and that he witnessed Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman say ‘we can make this disappear’ when discussing a particular police camera with an SD card in it, according the affidavit.
Despite the national results, proponents of abortion rights in New Mexico have some things to celebrate about coming out of the local elections. A political action committee for the local branch of Planned Parenthood spent more than $21,000 to target four state legislative races, according to state campaign finance reports. After Election Day, those seats came out 3-1 in their favor. “I think we had a total of 21,000 doors and phone calls across the state,” said Marshall Martinez, public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico. Martinez estimated that 40 percent those who helped Planned Parenthood in the New Mexico campaigns were volunteers.
While it’s clear after election night that Democrats took back control of the state House of Representatives from Republicans and expanded their lead in the state Senate, to what extent won’t be known until recounts take place. The preliminary unofficial results show three races, two for House seats and one for a Senate seat, within 1 percent, which means there will be automatic recounts. These recounts are paid for by the state. If a candidate who lost by more than 1 percent wants a recount, that candidate would need to pay for it themselves. Joey Keefe, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office, told NM Political Report that the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday to convene the canvassing period, where official vote-tallying will take place.
In a disastrous night for Democrats nationwide that saw Republican Donald Trump win the presidency, the state party actually did well, retaking the House of Representatives and expanding the party’s majority in the state Senate. The scope of the advantage in both chambers isn’t yet known, as there could be up to four automatic recounts, two in each chamber. Democrats also won back the Secretary of State seat when Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver easily defeated Republican Nora Espinoza. “What a difference two years makes,” Toulouse Oliver told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, referring to her 2014 loss to Republican Dianna Duran. Duran resigned last year hours before pleading guilty to counts of misusing campaign funds, for which she spent 30 days in jail.
The Election Day that seemed like it would never happen is here. Today, not only will we see the results in a presidential election, New Mexicans will also decide the next Secretary of State and which party controls the State House of Representatives and State Senate. Also, a whole bunch of county commission seats are up for grabs. It’s a very big year, and we’ll be here to cover all of the the most important races, stories and anything else that comes up. We’ll start posting at 6 p.m., but look for the largest amount of posts to come as the polls close at 7 p.m.
As in past years, Common Cause New Mexico is running an election protection hotline for voters and others to report problems at polling locations throughout the state. So far, according to Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Viki Harrison, the reports have been “typical” problems that they have seen in past years. For example, some polling locations told voters they needed photo ID to vote. But a call to the county clerks in charge straightened out that problem. Some others were concerned about anti-abortion trucks “rolling through Corrales this morning.” The next stop for the trucks may be Los Lunas around midday.
The Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s membership numbers are now high enough to qualify the group for major party status. Now that determination lies on how many votes former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson receives on election night in the state. If Johnson wins five percent of the vote in New Mexico, the state’s Libertarian Party could have a nominee on the next gubernatorial ballot. Libertarian Party of New Mexico Director Burly Cain told NM Political Report voters are finding it increasingly difficult to find a candidate they agree with, especially during this election cycle. “Many people in this election cycle are finding that they are looking for underlying principles that match their political ideals,” Cain said.