Steve Pearce’s campaign released an internal poll showing he trails Michelle Lujan Grisham by two percentage points. The campaign touted the results, saying they show the race is within the margin of error and so essentially tied. The poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group, showed Lujan Grisham with the support of 47 percent of registered voters and Pearce with the support of 45 percent. Related post: Is the governor’s race tied? Pearce does not have a primary opponent, while Lujan Grisham is facing two Democrats in June’s primary.
When candidates file their campaign finance reports Monday, there will be all types of ways to analyze the data. One will be to look for the biggest donors. But identifying them can be tricky. Even though New Mexico passed campaign contribution limits in 2009 after several high-profile elected officials went to jail for corruption, people still have the potential to contribute more than the limits by giving through companies they own, or combining with family members to give. This year New Mexico’s campaign contribution limit for statewide office is $5,500 in both the primary and general election cycles.
In the past few weeks, I noticed something from Steve Pearce’s campaign. Twice, staffers posted on social media that in the governor’s race, he is “tied” in the gubernatorial race against Michelle Lujan Grisham. And this week, when replying to the story about his controversial comments on same-sex marriage from 2008, his campaign manager asserted the video came out because national Democrats “are panicking because this race is tied.”
Democrats still have a contested primary, while Pearce has no opponent in June. I asked Pearce’s campaign manager why he said that, and he pointed to Google Ads by Lujan Grisham’s campaign asserting that the race is tied. “I’d assume it’s one of their internal polls but that’s a guess,” Paul Smith wrote in an email.
Peter DeBenedittis announced Wednesday that he would end his gubernatorial campaign. The announcement came after the longshot candidate failed to reach two percent at the Democratic pre-primary convention, and urged his supporters to instead support Jeff Apodaca, one of his opponents. DeBenedittis said he was “incredibly sad” to make the decision, but thanked supporters. He also outlined why he said his campaign never gained traction. “Over the past few weeks, our campaign needed several things to break in our direction for the campaign to be viable, and none of them did,” DeBenedittis wrote.
Delegates for the Democratic Party of New Mexico chose their preferred candidates for statewide and federal races Saturday afternoon at the state pre-primary convention. But before candidates finished their stump speeches, a brief protest and an alliance between two gubernatorial candidates caused some excitement. The Democratic convention showed higher numbers of both the number of candidates and convention attendees than the recent Republican and Libertarian state parties. Six state and federal candidates emerged from contested races as party favorites for the Democratic primary election in June. While he denied rumors that he was dropping out, gubernatorial candidate Peter DeBenedittis used his speech to encourage delegates to cast votes for another candidate in the race, Jeff Apodaca.
A poll conducted for the Michelle Lujan Grisham campaign shows she has a massive lead over the other three candidates in the Democratic primary for governor. The internally-funded poll shows that the congresswoman from Albuquerque has the support of 72 percent of Democratic primary voters. All other candidates are far behind, with former media executive Jeff Apodaca at 13 percent, state Senator Joe Cervantes at 6 percent and alcohol tax advocate Peter DeBendittis at 2 percent. The campaign released the poll just days ahead of the Democratic pre-primary convention, where delegates from around the state will vote on who ends up on the ballot. Candidates who receive the support of 20 percent of those at the pre-primary convention will automatically make the ballot, while those who fail to do so will need to collect additional signatures to make the primary ballot.
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a provision that could have a big impact on three national forests in southern New Mexico. Lawmakers voted 232 to 188 to pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 Wednesday. The final bill included an amendment sponsored by New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce that will exempt certain forest thinning, logging, watershed improvement and habitat restoration projects from reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act. Speaking on the House floor, Pearce said thinning and logging activities in New Mexico and across the western United States have been “drastically reduced,” contributing to the size and severity of wildfires. “The best way to restore our forests while preserving their ecosystems is the creation of restoration projects that will return them a healthy density,” Pearce said.