Lujan Grisham says Padilla should leave Lt. Gov. race over sexual harassment claims

A top Democratic gubernatorial candidates says a Lt. Gov. candidate should step down because of sexual harassment claims from a decade ago. Michelle Lujan Grisham told the Associated Press she believed State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, should not run for the state’s second-highest position because of the claims.

In New Mexico, the governor and lieutenant governor of major parties are each nominated separately in party primaries, then run as a ticket in the general election. The allegations date back to before Padilla’s political career, when he worked for the city of Albuquerque at the city’s 911 call center. Padilla faced a suit in federal court from five women for creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment. Padilla resigned, but denied the allegations.

Powell dropping out of State Land Office race

Ray Powell announced today that he is leaving the race for New Mexico State Land Commissioner due to health issues. The Democrat, who previously served in that position from 1993-2002 and 2011-2014, said he made the difficult decision after being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease. He explained that after complications from dental work he had a hard time speaking, and knew he should see a doctor. Unable to get an appointment with a neurologist within the next few months, he went to the emergency room instead. “You just can’t run a statewide campaign, or I can’t, with this condition,” Powell told NM Political Report.

McCamley to run for State Auditor

One Democratic lawmaker already says he’s planning to run to for State Auditor, now that Tim Keller won the race for Albuquerque mayor. State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, confirmed to NM Political Report Tuesday night that he plans on entering the race. If Keller had lost the race, he would have been able to run for a second term. Instead, Keller will become mayor on Dec. 1.

A ‘war on the Republican establishment’ comes West

President Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, but to one of his most controversial political allies, that morass has widened — to now encompass the Republican Party. Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” show in October, former White House strategist Steve Bannon called the GOP a “globalist clique.” Bannon, who is executive chair of the far-right Breitbart News Network, promised to use his media platform and funding connections to challenge every Republican incumbent (apart from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz) with his own “coalition” of candidates for the 2018 midterm elections. “We are declaring war on the Republican establishment that does not back the agenda that Donald Trump ran on,” Bannon said, adding that it would be a long-term effort to first replace Republican incumbents, and then Democrats. That has put some Western Republicans in Bannon’s crosshairs, as senators from Utah to Arizona have been either tepid in their support, or outright critical of Trump. Here’s a list of potential targets:

Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona

Flake has been one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics from the get-go.

Heinrich joins forces with Collins over Russia interference and election security

During the 2016 election, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t know which state officials to communicate with to relay the threat of attempted Russian interference. That confusion is one thing U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich wants to fix with the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act, which he introduced with Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. “I think overall, over the course of the last few decades, we may have become complacent as a country as to the potential for this,” Heinrich said of attempts to influence elections in the United States. “There were cases where they were maybe engaged with the wrong decisionmaker or talking to the vendor instead of, say a secretary of state or a county clerk,” Heinrich said. “Just getting all of that written down in a way that sort of provides a roadmap for a real-time event so that the response is quick provides a lot of advantages.”

If passed, the legislation would strengthen the security of the country’s elections system, which are not centrally run by the federal government, but by state and local officials.

Will Democrats expand House majority in 2018?

After Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and Democrats failed to take control of the Senate, many saw 2016 as a disastrous election for Democrats. At least nationwide. But in New Mexico the party retook control the state House of Representatives and expanded their majority in the Senate. Statewide, Clinton defeated Trump by 8 percent, even though over 9 percent of voters backed Libertarian nominee and former Gov. Gary Johnson. While the election took place ten months ago and may seem like old news, the results can provide a glimpse into which races will be competitive in 2018.

Ranking says NM 2nd-most likely to switch parties in governor’s mansion

A national outlet says New Mexico has a very good chance of flipping from a Republican governor to a Democratic one. In fact, National Journal predicted this week that New Mexico is the second-most likely state to elect a governor from a different party than the incumbent in the coming year. Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third consecutive term because of term limits. From National Journal (story is behind a paywall):
Martinez’s favorability has faded as the economy stagnates in the Democratic-trending state. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former state Cabinet official backed by EMILY’s List, is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and general election next year.

Senate Majority Whip running for Lt. Gov.

A member of Democratic state senate leadership announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor. Michael Padilla, the Majority Whip in the state Senate, made the announcement early Monday morning. He says his focus while running for Lt. Gov. will be similar to his focus during his four years in the state senate. “Helping New Mexico end poverty will be the focus of my campaign for Lieutenant Governor,” Padilla said in a statement. Padilla mentioned early childhood development in his announcement.

Who’s running for what (so far) in New Mexico?

With primary elections for many races a little less than a year away, candidates are already jockeying for positions. The top tier race in the state will be the race to replace Susana Martinez as governor. The Republican is barred from running for a third consecutive term by state law. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is the lone Republican candidate so far. Pearce said in a press call after announcing his candidacy that he believed Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry would not seek the position.

Pearce announces he’s running for governor

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce announced Monday that he is running for governor. Pearce becomes the first Republican to announce a run for the position and is taking his third crack at a statewide office after previously losing in two U.S. Senate races.A launch video highlights his time in New Mexico, since a child, and his pledge to help the state recover from its economic problems.

“My commitment is that I’ll work hard every day, bringing jobs back to the state, fixing a broken education system and relieving the poverty that we know is possible to relieve,” Pearce says in the video. Pearce reiterated those points in a press call Monday afternoon. He called it “heartbreaking” that New Mexico is at the bottom of so many lists and asserted that New Mexico has everything it needs to be successful but “we just need to manage it better.”

Management, and his business experience, is something Pearce touched on repeatedly, including when talking about education. Pearce said he wanted to move decision-making closer to the district and classroom level.