Land commissioner candidates offer differing visions for renewable power

Inside the New Mexico State Land Office, current Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn sits at a dark wood desk ringed with a painting of the Rio Grande Gorge, a saddle, and a pair of leather chaps pinned on the wall, homages to a lifetime spent on cattle ranches. But it’s the decor outside that tends to draw more attention: Dunn installed a model pump jack in front of the State Land Office building on Old Santa Fe Trail. Its bobbing head —powered by a solar panel — is a familiar sight in oil country. From that desk, he manages the state’s land trust: 9 million acres of surface land, and 13 million acres of mineral estate. It’s his job to maximize revenue from those acres through leases for businesses, grazing and rights-of-way, royalties from mining potash, coal, salt and caliche, and above all, fossil fuels, which accounts for 92.7 percent of the revenue generated the office.

NM Libertarian Party picks Gary Johnson as US Senate nominee

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico chose a replacement for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate race on Saturday. But their choice, former Republican Governor and two-time Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson still has not decided whether he will accept the offer. In a statement, Johnson repeated his previous remarks, saying he wants to see if he has a chance at winning. “A major factor is, simply, whether I can win,” Johnson said. “When I set out to summit Mt.

Dunn out of Senate race, Johnson hints at taking his place

A candidate switch-up is likely in the works for the Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s run for the U.S. Senate. Libertarian Senate candidate Aubrey Dunn announced Monday that will exit the race and asked high-profile Libertarian Gary Johnson to take his place. In a press release, Dunn said he wants to devote more time to his current role as State Land Commissioner. Now the question is whether Johnson, a former Republican governor and Libertarian presidential candidate, will take his place. If Johnson decides to run for Senate, it would create a considerable shake-up in the three-way race between Republican Mick Rich and Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Johnson weighing Senate run, as Dunn poised to drop out

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Aubrey Dunn is set to drop out of his race and a high-profile Libertarian is considering taking his place. Dunn’s son and Libertarian candidate for New Mexico Attorney General Blair Dunn confirmed that Aubrey Dunn, the state land commissioner, is dropping out of the race and will release more information next week. Former Republican governor and 2016 Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson is considering taking Aubrey Dunn’s place, according to his former campaign manager, Ron Nielson. Nielson told NM Political Report on Friday that Johnson was “weighing it out” and would decide to run if he determines it’s a winnable race. Earlier this week, Nielson’s media company, The Jack News, published an interview between Nielson and Johnson in which the former two-term governor hinted at getting back into politics, despite his previous statements that he was done running for office.

Poll: Lujan Grisham leads Pearce in governor’s race

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.

New Mexico official says Texas landowners are “stealing” millions of gallons of water and selling it back for fracking

ORLA, TEXAS — After you head northeast on Ranch Road 652 from tiny Orla, it’s easy to miss the precise moment you leave Texas and cross into New Mexico. The sign just says “Lea County Line,” and with 254 counties in Texas, you’d be forgiven for not knowing there isn’t one named Lea. But the folks who are selling water over it know exactly where the line is. That’s because on the Texas side, where the “rule of capture” rules groundwater policy, people basically can pump water from beneath their land to their heart’s content. But on the New Mexico side, the state has imposed tight regulations on both surface and groundwater that restrict supply.

Challenge of Aubrey Dunn candidacy dismissed

A state district judge dismissed the legal challenge of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn’s candidacy for U.S. Senate. The challenger, Bernalillo County voter Steve Gendorn, filed a “voluntary dismissal” in Santa Fe district court, asking the judge to cancel the upcoming scheduled hearing, with no explanation why. Gendorn originally filed the suit on February 20—four days after the deadline to challenge candidacies—alleging that Dunn’s qualifying petition signatures were invalid because he failed to list a proper address on his petition forms. The suit also alleged that a number of petition signatures were from voters who were either not registered as Libertarian or not registered voters at all. The challenge was not filed by Dunn’s Republican opponent Mick Rich, but Dunn implied to NM Political Report that Rich had something to do with it. “Mick Rich is wasting the court’s time with an actual political stunt and wasting New Mexican’s time with his non-starter candidacy,” Dunn said.

The Hard Hat and The Beast: Mick Rich crisscrosses the state looking for votes

Just after 10 on a bright, but chilly Wednesday morning, Mick Rich strolled into a retro-looking coffee shop on historic Route 66 in Tucumcari. Making his way to the back of the restaurant, where the walls and windows were covered in “Mick Rich for Senate” campaign signs, he introduced himself to diners. “I’m Mick Rich and I’m running for Senate,” he said to a few people eating bacon, eggs and stacks of pancakes. Pushing 6 feet tall and bald, Rich made a point to stop at every table, both on the way in and out. After less than an hour talking to about 15 people in Tucumcari, and with a cinnamon roll to go, Rich climbed into the back seat of “The Beast,” a four-ton rig, wrapped with the words “Mick Rich for Senate” and an attached living space, for the two-hour trip to Las Vegas, NM.

Liberating New Mexico

Blair Dunn always knew he was a Libertarian, but instead registered as a Republican. Like Hermey the Elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Blair has found solace on his own island of misfits. Blair’s island is the Libertarian Party of New Mexico. At almost seven feet tall with his signature cowboy boots and bow tie, Dunn will never be mistaken for an elf. He’s easy to spot, even in the most crowded room.

Dunn decries ‘federal land grab’ on state land on border

New Mexico’s State Land Commissioner said he will block the United States government from accessing some state lands along the border unless they can come to an agreement on access to the area. The newly-minted Libertarian, who is running for U.S. Senate, posted signs Tuesday along a mile of state trust land along the border with Mexico. In a press release, he called the construction of fences and roads on the land a “federal land grab.”

He told the Associated Press his office would install a fence to block access to the property if his office can’t come to an agreement with the federal government. Dunn said an investigation by his office found the federal government constructed a road and a fence on a stretch of land without acquiring the necessary right-of-way. Dunn wrote to the federal government about state lands along the border, and proposed a land swap, earlier this year.