Water attorney running for Congress in CD2

Another Democrat is seeking the party’s nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Xochitl Torres Small, a water attorney from Las Cruces, announced Wednesday that she is joining a shrinking field of Democrats. “As the daughter of a teacher and a social worker in Las Cruces, I learned early the values of hard work and having your neighbor’s back – something that seems long forgotten in Washington today,” Torres Small said. “To solve our greatest problems, we need a new crop of leaders ready to bring New Mexicans of all backgrounds together to find common sense solutions. I’m running to expand opportunities for hardworking families and to strengthen our rural communities with better access to healthcare, broadband service and good-paying jobs.”

She also announced a number of endorsements, including Democratic state representatives in the Las Cruces area Doreen Gallegos, Rudy Martinez and Joanne Ferrary.

Analysts see NM as likely to flip in next gubernatorial race

Two election analysts say that New Mexico’s gubernatorial election is among the most-likely in the nation to switch parties. Politico and The Washington Post each recently highlighted the top ten gubernatorial races to watch. New Mexico ranked second for Politico and first for the Post. Incumbent governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term. She leaves office with low popularity and her party faces a headwind in the first general elections after the election of Donald Trump.

Sandra Jeff changes party registration to Libertarian, eyes Secretary of State position

Former State Representative and former State Senate candidate Sandra Jeff can now add one more “former” before her name: former Democrat. Jeff updated her voter registration to the Libertarian Party Thursday afternoon at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office with the intention of running for Secretary of State. “I want to stop corruption, and I feel that I have every right to work with the constituents within the state of New Mexico to bring forth a new horizon because that is what is needed in this state in order for us to move forward,” Jeff told NM Political Report. Jeff represented House District 5, which includes a large portion of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, for two terms before she was kicked off the ballot during her run for a third term because she did not collect enough valid signatures. As a Representative, she sometimes voted against fellow Democrats on key issues, most notably when she skipped a vote to raise the minimum wage in 2014, even after then-Vice President Joe Biden called her personally and asked her to vote in favor of it.

Ranked-choice voting coming to Santa Fe, as state Supreme Court shoots down appeal

Santa Fe voters will rank their choices for mayor in a few months, avoiding the need for a runoff election. The State Supreme Court Tuesday denied an appeal of the city’s new ranked-choice voting system. This means the system will be in place for the upcoming March 6 election. Currently five candidates are vying for the position after Mayor Javier Gonzalez said he would not seek another term. Gonzalez is, instead, seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

One GOP candidate drops out of CD2 race, another replaces him

One Republican candidate announced he would no longer seek the party’s nomination for the 2nd Congressional District race, which covers southern New Mexico. But another candidate quickly took his place. Such is the turmoil in an open seat race, as candidates jostle for the nomination in the state’s most conservative district. Andrew Salas, a New Mexico National Guard brigadier general, announced on Facebook Monday morning he would leave the race because of his military service. “My military service has never stopped during this campaign and recently I received a new assignment that will continue to take me out of New Mexico during the homestretch of the campaign,” Salas said.

SOS calls end of Trump voter fraud panel a ‘victory’

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver was quick to react to the dissolution of President Donald Trump’s controversial commission that sought evidence of voter fraud. “This is a victory for the integrity and privacy of New Mexico voters,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement Wednesday evening. “From its inception, President Trump’s election commission never demonstrated that the collected data would be used for lawful purposes, how voters’ personal data would be secured, or how comparing insufficient data would produce any meaningful conclusions.”

The White House cited the lack of cooperation from states as one reason to dissolve the commission. “Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” Trump said in a statement. “Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”

First-generation American running for Congress in southern NM district

A young, first-generation American is throwing his hat in the ring for the open seat congressional race in southern New Mexico. Angel Peña, the Río Bravo Regional Conservation Director for Conservation Lands Foundation, told NM Political Report Thusday that he intends to join the Democratic primary for the seat. Incumbent Steve Pearce is leaving the seat to run for governor. Peña said running for Congress wasn’t on his radar at the start of 2017. But over the year, certain events changed his mind, starting with the inauguration of Donald Trump in January.

Back-and-forth allegations in Dem primary for governor

An end-of-year back-and-forth is riling up the Democratic primary race for governor. The spat  began after a former Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute intern alleged she was fired after revealing she was transgender. Michelle Lujan Grisham is currently the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The CHCI and Lujan Grisham denied knowing that Riley Del Ray was transgender and that the CHCI fired her for other reasons. Jeff Apodaca, another Democratic candidate for governor, called for a congressional ethics investigation into Lujan Grisham over the allegations earlier this week.

Judge: Pearce can use federal campaign funds in guv’s race

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.

Could Democratic victories in ABQ, Las Cruces preview 2018?

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.