The theatrics continued with a lawsuit from Stella Padilla, who wants to run for mayor, alleging Albuquerque’s city clerk failed to properly count petition signatures. The City of Albuquerque filed a protective order Monday against Stella Padilla’s daughter alleging the daughter twice harassed and tried to intimidate City Clerk Natalie Howard. Padilla originally sued Howard in her official capacity as city clerk, alleging her office improperly vetted campaign petition signatures. An affidavit outlines two encounters Howard had with Padilla’s daughter, Vanessa Benavidez, over the past two months. In the affidavit, which lists Benavidez’s last name as Padilla, Howard wrote that Benavidez arrived at the city clerk’s office to serve Howard with a copy of the original complaint.
As promised, State Commissioner of Public Lands Aubrey Dunn filed a defamation lawsuit against land commissioner candidate Garrett VeneKlasen Monday evening. Dunn also filed a request for a temporary restraining order to stop VeneKlasen from running a campaign radio ad. The campaign ad features VeneKlasen raising questions about a ranch owned by Dunn and the commissioner’s involvement in allowing a major electrical transmission line to run through his property. Related story: Land commissioner files ‘cease and desist’ order against contender
Dunn maintains he only learned the line was set to run through his land after he purchased the ranch. Blair Dunn, who is acting as attorney for his father, said his father has not allowed access to his property and may get paid easement royalties.
One week after announcing his candidacy for New Mexico State Land Commissioner, Garrett VeneKlasen received a “cease and desist order” from the current commissioner, Republican Aubrey Dunn. The order came from Dunn’s son, Blair, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate as a Republican last fall and helped run Gary Johnson’s last gubernatorial campaign. Blair Dunn sent the order to the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, of which VeneKlasen is the executive director, and eight media outlets including NM Political Report. The order called political statements made by VeneKlasen, a Democrat, untrue and misleading. It references a radio ad from VeneKlasen’s campaign accusing Aubrey Dunn of using the office for personal gain.
Former Albuquerque mayoral candidate Stella Padilla Tuesday asked a district judge to allow her to run as an official candidate until her lawsuit against the city clerk over the candidate’s removal from the ballot is finished. Padilla’s lawyer, Blair Dunn, filed a temporary restraining order in district court that, if granted, would allow Padilla to run as a candidate. In his request, Dunn wrote that allowing Padilla to run as an official candidate would not harm the city. But, Blair wrote, Padilla would suffer irreparable harm if she is not allowed to run her campaign until after the court case is completed. “There is no monetary remedy that could be established to replace or compensate [Padilla] for the type of opportunity she will be deprived of seeking to participate in during the pendency of this lawsuit,” Dunn wrote.
An incoming Bernalillo County Commissioner and Breaking Bad actor is being accused of fraudulently declaring himself a candidate. Patricia Paiz, who lost the general election for Bernalillo county commission in district 2, filed a complaint in district court Tuesday claiming her opponent, Steven Michael Quezada, should have never been a candidate. Paiz’s lawyers, A. Blair Dunn and Colin Hunter, filed the complaint that says Quezada’s wife Cherise filled out her husband’s candidacy declaration form, therefore making all votes for Quezada illegal. “Contestant Patricia B. Paiz is the successful candidate having received a majority of the legal votes in the November 8, 2016 election,” the complaint reads. One of the exhibits Dunn and Hunter attached is an affidavit from “certified questioned document examiner” Karen Fisher-Weinberg, stating the form is in question.
New Mexico could see a Libertarian primary election on the same day as the Democratic and Republican primaries in 2018. That will depend on the outcome of this year’s presidential election and if the state’s Libertarian Party can boost its membership numbers. Currently the Libertarian Party is considered a minor party in New Mexico, along with the Green and Constitutional parties. But if at least 5 percent of voters in New Mexico vote for the party’s presidential nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party will be on its way to be considered a “major party” in the state and qualify for its own primary election. Johnson is currently polling in the 5 to 10 percent range nationally, but in New Mexico he is polling as high as 24 percent.
A New Mexico lawyer with long familial ties to state politics said he has received enough petitions signatures to officially run for State Senate. A. Blair Dunn, son of current New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, told NM Political Report that he has collected the 34 required signatures to get on the ballot this year. Dunn said he has only raised $20 in the form of a donation from a close friend. He also said that he has no intention of creating a campaign website, but instead opted to use a Facebook page. Dunn said the incumbent, Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, has not been focused enough on his district which includes Albuquerque’s North Valley.