For New Mexico Democrats, the celebration and rallying didn’t stop after he primaries on Tuesday night. About 75 party officials, candidates and their supporters crammed into a back room of an iconic Albuquerque restaurant Wednesday morning to celebrate primary wins from late the night before. Democratic primary winners Deb Haaland and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham energized the crowd at Barelas Coffee House with talks about winning the general election in November. “We have the most incredible Democrats,” Lujan Grisham said. “I have to say this is one of the strongest tickets I’ve ever seen.”
Haaland, who is the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat Lujan Grisham currently holds, encouraged Democrats to take any criticism from Republicans with a grain of salt.
“You know all of this doesn’t have to be so serious, when we’re getting hit with this barrage of horrible things from the Republicans,” Haaland told the crowd.
Indian Country News is a weekly note from High Country News, as we continue to broaden our coverage of tribal affairs across the West. Patricia Roybal Caballero was a freshman lawmaker in New Mexico’s House of Representatives when she walked into a popular Santa Fe restaurant in 2013 for a meeting with some of her colleagues. Roybal Caballero, a community and economic developer of Piro-Manso-Tiwa ancestry, was by then used to dealing with negative perceptions about her race, but what happened next astounded her. “Before I had a chance to ask for a table, the hostess said, ‘I am sorry, but we’re not taking applications right now,’” Roybal Caballero told me recently. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.
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.
Many Albuquerque-area political figures are rumored to be gearing up for a congressional campaign after New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she plans to leave the seat and run for Governor. There are still no definitive announcements or declared candidates, but the handful of people NM Political Report spoke to this week gave similar answers—that they have been encouraged to run and are giving it serious consideration. Some said they don’t want to run for family reasons, in particular because of the amount of travel that comes with the job. The state’s congressional members often travel back and forth from Washington D.C. and New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s family, for example, lived in Albuquerque while he served in the U.S. House before Lujan Grisham.
On Thanksgiving, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called on President Barack Obama to reroute the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and condemned the response by police to protests. Native Americans and others have protested pipeline over recent weeks over a fear that it would imperil the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s only water source. The pipeline’s path was already moved once, from near Bismarck. Part of the reason was the risk to the city’s water supply. Update: Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters
“Today is Thanksgiving and I cannot help but reflect on our history in these United States and how often it has not lived up to the rosy picture of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal in friendly company that I saw in textbooks as a child,” Heinrich said in a statement.
If you watched the roll call at each the recent Democratic and Republican National Conventions waiting for New Mexico to come up, you probably noticed each state bragging about certain attributes of their state before they announced the vote totals. For example, Idaho’s Republicans bragged about the “world-famous potatoes” that are grown there. Both Democratic and Republican delegations in Minnesota mentioned Prince. New Mexico’s delegation was not immune to the braggadocio that comes with wearing silly hats and waving signs promoting your party’s preferred candidate at these conventions. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, Gov. Susana Martinez took the mic to talk about New Mexico.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Deb Haaland teamed up to cast the state’s votes for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination. New Mexico cast 27 votes for Clinton and 16 votes for Sanders. The votes came as a result of a June primary, which Clinton narrowly won, and the votes of super-delegates, who unanimously supported Clinton. Clinton ultimately was nominated by acclamation, at the request of Sanders himself who has fought throughout the convention to unify Democrats against Donald Trump, even as some of his supporters insist they will not back Clinton. Those speaking to announce the votes and the state, however, are firmly on Hillary’s team.
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate prompted reaction from New Mexico politicians, most notably our state’s own governor. “Thanks to Governor Mike Pence’s strong, conservative leadership, Indiana is in a more prosperous position now than before he was elected, and it’s a direct result of his commitment to pro-growth policies and successful governance,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement for the Republican Governors Association, which she chairs. “The RGA congratulates Governor Pence on his selection as the Republican Vice Presidential Nominee and we look forward to the nation benefiting from his dynamic leadership.”
Martinez is among the few high profile GOP figures who hasn’t officially endorsed Trump. She previously clashed with the New York business magnate over his immigration policies, which include building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country. When Trump visited Albuquerque in May, he criticized Martinez at his rally for presiding over a state with a large number of food stamp recipients.
Democratic Party of New Mexico chairwoman Deb Haaland announced in a conference call with the press that she will cast her delegate vote for Hillary Clinton next month in Philadelphia. She also outlined legislative races she felt the Democrats could win in November. Haaland cited the results of New Mexico’s primary, where Clinton narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders Tuesday. “Secretary Clinton leads in both votes and in pledged delegates across the country and New Mexico further confirms that she has won the confidence of the majority of voters,” Haaland told reporters. Delegates will formally choose a Democratic nominee at the Democratic National Convention.
The news that former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned came early Friday morning, mostly through social media. After NMpolitics.net confirmed that Duran indeed resigned, many involved in New Mexico politics weighed in. The director for Common Cause New Mexico, a non-partisan non-profit group that advocates for more campaign disclosures and clean elections, also said Duran’s resignation is a step towards regaining public trust. “The 2016 elections are already upon us, and voters and candidates alike need to know that the office is functioning at the highest level possible,” Common Cause New Mexico’s director Viki Harrison said. “Our hope is that Governor Susana Martinez will quickly appoint a qualified person to serve the rest of Duran’s term so that the fundamental functions of our state’s democracy may be restored.”