National Democrats announced Monday they will target New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District in the 2018 elections. The move comes as part of an expansion of 20 more Republican-held House seats targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Already, Democrats announced 59 other seats are in their electoral crosshairs. With this second round of targets, Democrats are targeting nearly one-third of all seats currently held by Republicans. (Four seats are currently vacant.)
Republicans said earlier this year that both of the New Mexico congressional districts held by Democrats are on their list of targets.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Tuesday that he will not run for governor next year, ending months of speculation. Balderas, a Democrat, made the announcement in a statement to media where he highlighted work he has done in his first term as attorney general. “It has been an honor to serve New Mexico and I plan on running for re-election next year in order to continue to fight for our state,” he said. In addition to mentioning prosecuting “more than 100 cases of internet crimes against children and human trafficking” and recovering more than $6 million in Medicaid fraud cases in 2016, Balderas noted his more recent efforts against the Trump administration. “Since the November election, my office has a new responsibility—to stand up for New Mexico against President Trump,” Balderas said.
Another New Mexico Democrat announced his run for governor. Peter DeBenedittis issued a press release Monday detailing his campaign platform. One major point DeBenedittis highlighted in his announcement is that he is a political outsider. “Year after year we’ve seen Democrats talk like they really want to help people during the primaries, then they run to the center for the general election,” DeBenedittis said. “And then if they win, many completely forget what they’ve campaigned on.”
Last year, DeBenedittis gained some attention with his campaign to raise state alcohol taxes to increase state revenue.
The son of a former New Mexico governor announced his plans Tuesday to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive and son of former Gov. Jerry Apodaca, told NM Political Report he wants to “turn New Mexico around” in early childhood development, job creation and health care. “I’m not running because of any legacy,” Apodaca said. If elected, Apodaca, a Democrat, said he would work to diversify New Mexico’s economy so the state is less dependant on oil and gas. Not only could New Mexico use wind and solar power for its own purposes, Apodaca said, but the state could power other states using renewable energy sources.
There’s still more than a year until New Mexicans vote in the primary election and general election for the U.S. Senate, but one local commercial building contractor said he’s already prepared to take on incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich. Mick Rich, owner of Mick Rich Contractors, said his plans for the Senate don’t go past two terms, or 12 years. “I am not moving to D.C.,” Rich told NM Political Report. “I want to make it clear, two terms and I’m done.”
A registered Republican, Rich speaks highly of former Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici and said the six-term senator’s career is a “great road map” for serving New Mexico. “He made sure that our labs and bases had a mission,” Rich said.
A new poll examining the job approval ratings of every governor and U.S. senator showed Gov. Susana Martinez near the bottom of the rankings and both of the state’s senators at mid-pack. That poll comes from Morning Consult, a website that regularly releases polls, most notably on President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, and is the website’s first approval ratings poll since the 2016 general election. The Morning Consult poll showed 43 percent of New Mexican registered voters approve of Martinez’s job performance while 48 percent disapprove. Martinez ranks 41st in approval ratings among governors. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was not included in the rankings because he took over for Nikki Haley, who is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
U.S Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham reported raising nearly $900,000 since announcing her candidacy for governor in December. The reports came in the first mandated campaign finance filings since she announced she would leave her congressional seat to run for governor of New Mexico. Gov. Susana Martinez is term-limited and cannot run for a third-consecutive term. So far, Lujan Grisham is the first major candidate to announce she will run for the position. Lujan Grisham also spent over $150,000, including $31,719.35 to the Washington D.C.-based Anne Lewis Strategies.
Michelle Lujan Grisham received the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in her run for governor, her campaign announced Friday. Lujan Grisham, a U.S. Representative from the Albuquerque area, is the first major candidate to announce her candidacy. Current Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third consecutive term due to term limits in the state. “New Mexicans know how important it is to have a Governor who will work with New Mexico legislators to move our state forward. Michelle will be that kind of Governor,” Bingaman said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Nambe is going to be a key figure for Democrats in the next election cycle. That’s because he’s the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As such, he’s tasked with aiding Democrats in their pursuit of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives—and while he won’t say if he’s confident Democrats will do so in the 2018 midterms, he says they will pick up seats. Luján said this while taping an episode of C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” show to air this weekend, according to Roll Call. “It’s too early to know what’s going to happen in November of 2018, but I can tell you Democrats in the House are on offensive, and there’s no question that we will pick up seats in 2018,” he said according to the paper.
Democrat Ray Powell is announcing his candidacy for New Mexico Commissioner of State Lands. Powell previously served in that position from 1993-2002 and 2011-2014. The State Land Office is responsible for administering 9 million acres of surface lands and 13 million acres of subsurface mineral rights. Those lands are managed for beneficiaries of the state land trust, which include schools, universities and hospitals. Powell plans to formally announce his candidacy on March 13, at the New Mexico State Legislature’s Environmental Justice Day.