Steve Bannon scheduled to campaign for Mick Rich in NM

Controversial political figure and former presidential chief strategist Steve Bannon will make an appearance in New Mexico on Thursday in support of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Mick Rich’s campaign confirmed that Bannon will speak on behalf of his political group Citizens of the American Republic in Roswell, stumping for the Albuquerque construction contractor and political newcomer. The Rich campaign said the event is sponsored and paid for by Citizens of the American Republic and Rich will appear as a guest. Nick Gerard, a staffer with the Mick Rich campaign, said Bannon’s appearance is notable for both the campaign and the Republican Party. “A lot of people nationally kind of look at New Mexico and just assume it will forever and always be a Democratic state and that’s not the case on the ground,” Gerard said.

Obamacare premiums dip for first time. Some call it a correction.

After two years of double-digit price hikes, the average premium for individual health coverage on the federal health law’s insurance marketplace will drop by 1.5 percent for 2019, the Trump administration said Thursday. The announcement  marked the first time average premiums have fallen since the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014. It also comes during a bitter midterm congressional campaign season in which health care is a central issue following last year’s efforts by Republicans to repeal the ACA. Administration officials claimed credit for the price drop, saying it was due to their actions to make changes to the law. Health policy experts said it was a reaction to insurers’ huge profits following hefty premium increases on plans offered this year.

Migrants get a second chance at asylum. But it’s still “an uphill battle.”

Ruby Powers didn’t rush to celebrate when her client, a Honduran mother who has been separated from her 15-year-old son and detained for four months, passed her second “credible fear” interview to restart the asylum process. Although the president and the American Civil Liberties Union have come to an agreement giving migrant families separated at the border this summer a second chance to make their case for staying in the country, immigration lawyers say the Trump administration is still working overtime to upend the nation’s asylum process. And while a few hundred people may get a second chance at asylum, there are likely tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who will be subject to a tightened asylum process. “It’s infinitely harder on all levels,” Powers said. “With the chipping away of the asylum law, it’s an uphill battle to try to get an approval.”
The primary source of their unease?

More than 400 kids remain separated from their parents. Here’s one lawyer’s long-shot plan to reunite a family

Despite a legal team that includes celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy separated from his father under Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy remains in a shelter in Baytown with no end in sight. Byron Xol Bol, who was detained with his father after crossing the Rio Grande into Texas in May, is one of 416 separated children who have yet to be reunited with their parents, as attorneys scramble to untangle the details of the cases and the government fails to meet court-ordered deadlines to reunify the children with their families. The Trump administration launched a zero-tolerance policy earlier this year that led to more than 2,500 children being separated from their families, including the Xols. President Trump walked back the policy in June after public outcry, and signed an executive order on June 20 that essentially reverted to the prior “catch and release” policy that the president had criticized. Byron Xol is among more than 300 children whose parents have been deported, making reunification even more challenging.

Trump approval rating in NM falls again

President Donald Trump’s approval rating keeps dropping in New Mexico.. The pollster Morning Consult found that in August just 40 percent of registered voters approved of his job performance, while 56 percent disapproved. That’s down a couple of points from July, when 42 percent of New Mexico registered voters said they approved of Trump’s job performance and 55 percent said they disapproved. The last time Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico was at or below 40 percent in the Morning Consult poll was in January. Nationwide, the president’s approval rating is 42 percent, while his disapproval is 53 percent.

Poll: Close governor’s race, Johnson in 2nd in Senate race

The race for New Mexico governor is tight, while the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator holds a sizeable lead over his two challengers, according to a new poll from Emerson College. The poll, conducted last week, via calls to landlines and online surveys and released Monday morning, shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham with a two point lead over Republican nominee Steve Pearce, 42 percent to 40 percent. The poll shows 18 percent of voters polled are still undecided. The poll is of registered voters. Both candidates are leaving their respective congressional seats to run for governor.

Top Interior officials ordered parks to end science policy, emails show

As deputy director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds played a key role in developing a sweeping new vision for managing national parks. The new policy, enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration, elevated the role that science played in decision-making and emphasized that parks should take precautionary steps to protect natural and historic treasures. But eight months later, as the first acting director of the Park Service under President Donald Trump, Reynolds rescinded this policy, known as Director’s Order 100. Newly released documents suggest that top Interior Department officials intervened, ordering Reynolds to rescind it. A memo addressed to Reynolds states: “Pursuant to direction from (Interior) Secretary (Ryan) Zinke, I hereby instruct you to rescind Director’s Order #100.”

Reynolds, now the superintendent of Yosemite National Park, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Poll: Martinez remains unpopular among NM voters

With less than six months left in her time in office, Gov. Susana Martinez remains unpopular among New Mexico voters. Morning Consult released approval ratings for all governors and U.S. Senators on Wednesday. The poll showed Martinez among the least popular governors in the nation, with 54 percent of voters disapproving of her job performance, compared to 35 percent who approve. Her  disapproval rating is tied for the fifth-worst. The previous numbers, released in April, showed Martinez with 53 percent disapproval and 37 percent approval.

Pearce: Sessions ‘Forgot the chorus’ of ‘lock her up’

New Mexico’s Republican gubernatorial candidate wants the U.S. Department of Justice to hold 2016 presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accountable for an email scandal that dates back to nearly a decade ago. Without offering many details, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who is giving up his congressional seat to run for New Mexico governor, said in a radio interview last week he does not think the DOJ—specifically U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions—is doing enough to take Clinton to task for the way she reportedly handled classified email messages while Secretary of State. The host of Mornings with Mike Winters in Roswell asked Pearce about “the status of ‘lock her up,’” which supporters of President Donald Trump chanted at rallies leading up to the 2016 election. The chant, which appeared at a Trump rally as recently as last week, refers to Clinton. “Yeah I don’t know exactly what happened to Jeff Sessions when he got appointed in as Attorney General but he has suddenly forgot the chorus there,” Pearce said.

What NM officials did, said in a whirlwind week of immigration news

The debate over enforcement of immigration law was front and center this week, with images of children separated from their parents and held in cages along the border in newspapers and TV news. The White House flip-flopped on its explanations and who was to blame, as shown by a damning video in the Washington Post. Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at stopping the same separations the White House said previously could only be ended by Congress. Even that didn’t stop the outcry, with critics pointing out that it would still allow family separations in some cases and that it would allow indefinite detention of families. While children would not be taken from their parents to be put in federal facilities, they would  be held together with their respective families until immigration prosecution could take place.