LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate and former two-term Republican governor Gary Johnson is killing time outside a Starbucks in Los Alamos between campaign events. Technically he shouldn’t be here at all—or, at least not running for office. On election night in 2016, Johnson told NM Political Report he was done with politics after his second presidential run. Asked about that night, Johnson answers the question he knows is coming next. “I can’t be believed,” Johnson interrupted sarcastically.
The notion struck Megan Duffy at an event she attended with several other women—and it struck her hard. It was Aug. 18. The gathering marked the anniversary of a seismic change to the US Constitution: Passage of the 19th Amendment, more commonly known as women’s suffrage. “Women have only been able to vote in this country for 98 years,” Duffy says in a recent interview with New Mexico In Depth and SFR.
Every Tuesday, NM Political Report sends out an elections roundup email. Here’s a portion of this week’s email. To sign up for the full version, sign up here. The Albuquerque Journal released its first round of polling on some big races. The short story: Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich leads by a lot in the U.S. Senate race (Gary Johnson is in third), while Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leads Republican Steve Pearce by 7 percentage points in the race for governor.
The flood of U.S. Senate polls since Gary Johnson entered the race continued this week. Two new partisan polls show different visions of the U.S. Senate race, but both show the incumbent leading while the insurgent Libertarian candidate trails in third place. One newly-released poll by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research for The Majority Institute, an organization that seeks to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate, showed Heinrich with the support of 48 percent of likely voters, compared to 33 percent for Republican Mick Rich and 17 percent for Johnson, a former governor. The poll was conducted in early August, before Johnson formally entered the race. Another poll released before Johnson formally entered the race showed the same order.
The race for New Mexico governor is tight, while the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator holds a sizeable lead over his two challengers, according to a new poll from Emerson College. The poll, conducted last week, via calls to landlines and online surveys and released Monday morning, shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham with a two point lead over Republican nominee Steve Pearce, 42 percent to 40 percent. The poll shows 18 percent of voters polled are still undecided. The poll is of registered voters. Both candidates are leaving their respective congressional seats to run for governor.
Prominent Democratic U.S. Senators are blasting out their support for Martin Heinrich after the entry of former Governor Gary Johnson shook up the U.S. Senate race. Johnson made his first public comments Thursday. On Friday, Elizabeth Warren,Kirsten Gillibrand and others tweeted support for incumbent Martin Heinrich—and criticisms of Johnson. Warren, a progressive Democrat from Massachusetts though to be considering a run for president in 2020, tweeted, “Gary Johnson – who’s supported abolishing the minimum wage, raising the Social Security retirement age, & gutting health care – jumped into the New Mexico Senate race against my friend Martin Heinrich.”
Johnson responded in a tweet that Warren was “pretty off-base on my positions.”
Gillibrand, another Senator who may run for president in 2020, wrote in a tweet thread that Heinrich “has been a champion in our fights for better health care, better education opportunities and better jobs. We can’t afford to lose his voice right now and let Gary Johnson take New Mexico backward at the expense of working families, so we need to rush Martin our support.”
Both included fundraising links for Heinrich’s campaign.
Gary Johnson is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. At least that seems to be the message from the former two-term Republican governor, two-time Libertarian presidential candidate and now Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico. “I am angry at the two-party system, I think we’ve all been hoodwinked to believe these are our only choices,” Johnson said at a press conference on Thursday. The press conference was the first time Johnson spoke publicly as a U.S. Senate candidate since the Libertarian Party of New Mexico nominated him earlier this month. The party filed paperwork to formally nominate Johnson earlier this week.
Last year as hardcore band Cipher took the stage in Philadelphia, the group’s frontman, Maurice “Moe” Mitchell, took a moment to call for unity. “The hardcore scene, and I grew up in the hardcore scene, was a rare space where people of all different race, class, gender, expression, create a community together,” Mitchell told the crowd. That rare message in today’s political climate is one that Mitchell seems to take with him everywhere, including as an organizer for Black Lives Matter and, more recently, as the national director for the Working Families Party. Mitchell came to New Mexico this week as part of a “national blitz” and said he plans to take what he learned in the grassroots world of progressive organizing and apply it to the more-distinctly-organized world of political campaigns. “When you’re coming from a very, sort of, top-down staff model, it can be very scary to give that much latitude to people you may not even know,” Mitchell said of how political groups are typically structured.
A new poll shows that Democrats lead in statewide races, while Republicans are currently in the lead in the race to keep the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by the Republican incumbent. KOB-TV first reported on the poll, which was released by Carroll Strategies Wednesday morning. The poll by Carroll Strategies shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leads 50.5 percent to 42.1 percent, while Libertarian Bob Walsh pulls in 3.1 percent (it isn’t clear yet if Walsh will appear on the general election ballot). Four percent of voters are undecided. Incumbent Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third term because of term limits.
On New Mexico’s primary election day, in almost triple-digit heat, former state Senator Dede Feldman stood outside an Albuquerque middle school with a signature-filled clipboard in hand. It’s not uncommon to see people gathering signatures outside of polling locations for various political efforts. But Feldman wasn’t there to get anyone elected. The former four-term lawmaker, shaded by a wide brimmed hat, was collecting signatures to get a public campaign finance initiative on the ballot in November for Albuquerque voters. The initiative that Feldman and others hope to get on the ballot would increase money to at least some municipal candidates in Albuquerque who take part in the city’s public financing system.