New Mexico was told there are no signs that Russians targeted the state’s elections systems ahead of the 2016 elections. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver made the announcement Friday afternoon, after news broke that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security contacted the elections officials in each state and informed 21 there were attempts to breach their systems. The Associated Press reported DHS said there was no evidence any votes were affected. It’s not clear how many states saw their elections systems breached. “Fortunately, it appears that New Mexico was not one of the states targeted by Russian hackers last year,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “However, cybersecurity threats are still a major concern and should be handled with the utmost seriousness and attention to detail.
There’s no indication that New Mexico’s voter databases were improperly accessed, according to New Mexico’s secretary of state. This comes even as U.S. senators probed the issue in a hearing Wednesday morning. Wednesday morning, Jeanette Manfra, the acting undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS, told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that election systems in 21 states were targeted in a Russian cyber attack. Manfra declined to say which states were targeted or what, if any, data was accessed by the hackers. Jeh Johnson said that while interference by Russia “was unprecedented” in “scale and scope,” there was no indication that Russians changed any votes in 2016.
New Mexico’s electors officially cast the state’s five electoral college votes for Hillary Clinton Monday. Clinton won the state easily last month, even as she lost the national race to Republican Donald Trump when it comes to electoral votes. Trump received enough votes Monday to be formally named the president-elect. Each state receives an electoral vote for each member of the congressional delegation, plus Washington D.C. receives three electoral votes. Clinton received 48.3 percent of the vote in New Mexico, compared to 40 percent of the vote going to Trump.
Congressman Ben Ray Luján had his emails hacked by those with ties to Russians, according to a report in the New York Times. Luján was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization that seeks to elect more Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives. The DCCC was the target of the hacking incident, which was similar to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Media reports have also said that the Republican National Committee saw its emails hacked, though the organization has denied this. The DCCC acknowledged it was hacked in July of this year.
Recently completed recounts in three state legislative races didn’t result in any changes to the election night winners. In the closest race, Republican state Rep. David Adkins kept his Bernalillo County seat by defeating Democrat Ronnie Martinez by just nine votes. This is the closest legislative race since 2012, when Las Cruces Republican Terry McMillan defeated Joanne Ferrary by eight votes. Ferrary lost again to McMillan in 2014 before defeating him in this November’s election. The other House race close enough for an automatic recount saw Democrat Daymon Ely defeating Republican incumbent Paul Pacheco by 105 votes.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich wants the information about the Russian government’s involvement in the recent U.S. election to be declassified. Heinrich and the other Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote a short letter to President Barack Obama asking for the declassification. “We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public,” the letter reads. The letter says specifics on the call for declassification were sent “through classified channels.”
In October, the Obama administration said that Russia was responsible for hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails. A private security firm said that Russian hackers were also behind the hacking of John Podesta’s emails.
Maggie Toulouse Oliver will take over the Secretary of State’s office on Dec. 9, according to a release from Brad Winter, the current Secretary of State. She will be sworn into office on that day. Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, won election to the position this November over Republican Nora Espinoza. Winter became Secretary of State after Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him last December after the resignation of Dianna Duran.
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.
If he had to do it all over again, Michael Sanchez says he wouldn’t do anything differently. The outgoing state Senate Majority Leader will no longer be a member of the New Mexico Legislature for the first time since 1993, after losing in a bruising campaign that saw outside groups spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat him. Newcomer Greg Baca, a Republican, will take over Sanchez’s seat in January. In an interview with NM Political Report last week, Sanchez looked back at his successes and other proud moments in the Senate. One of his chief legislative legacies is the lottery scholarship for college students, which he helped shepherd through the Legislature in the mid-1990s.
When President-elect Donald Trump made his first announcements of key members to his administration, one name jumped out to many: Steve Bannon. Trump named Bannon as his chief strategist and senior advisor, saying in a statement his role would be co-equal to Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus’ new role as Chief of Staff. The Anti-Defamation League brought up Bannon’s time as executive chairman of Breitbart, which ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt described as “the premier website of the ‘alt-right’—a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.”
Some members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation joined in on denouncing Bannon’s inclusion in Trump’s inner circle. NM Political Report asked about Priebus and Bannon when seeking comment. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents Santa Fe, slammed the choice of Bannon in a statement. “Despite his stated desire to bring the country together, President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist is completely unacceptable, divisive, and dangerous,” Luján said.