Political endorsements may have little sway on undecided voters

Thousands of New Mexicans have already voted and Election Day is only weeks away. Which means politicians around the state are in high gear spreading their respective messages through commercials and campaign events. But one tactic many politicians are also using to signal undecided voters is endorsements from high-profile politicians. A New Mexico political scientist said those major endorsements will impact the election but it’s not entirely clear how much it will help or hurt campaigns to get a stamp of approval from a former U.S. president, a New Mexico governor or a sitting U.S. Senator. University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson told NM Political Report those endorsements only go as far as the endorser’s approval rating.

Democrats hold big cash advantages in federal races

While Democrats led the way in fundraising in the latest quarter, federal campaign finance reports filed Monday show, one candidate considerably outraised the rest. NM Political Report first reported that Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, raised over $1.9 million yesterday. Her fundraising total was $650,000 more than all three candidates for U.S. Senate combined raised in that same time period. Torres Small spent over $1.3 million and finished with $1.1 million cash on hand for the final few weeks of the race. Her opponent, Republican State Rep. Yvette Herrell, raised $564,000 and spent $245,000, leaving her with $419,000 cash on hand for the final stretch.

Mr. Johnson wants to go to Washington

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate and former two-term Republican governor Gary Johnson is killing time outside a Starbucks in Los Alamos between campaign events. Technically he shouldn’t  be here at all—or, at least not running for office. On election night in 2016, Johnson told NM Political Report he was done with politics after his second presidential run.  Asked about that night, Johnson answers the question he knows is coming next. “I can’t be believed,” Johnson interrupted sarcastically.

Rich, Johnson still support Kavanaugh but want to hear from accuser

Following an allegation of sexual assault, the confirmation of U.S. Circuit Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh became more controversial. Now some Democrats, including New Mexico’s two senators, want an investigation into what happened between Kavanaugh and college professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party in high school, where Ford alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.. New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, issued a statement this week calling for an FBI investigation. “The sexual assault allegation made against Judge Kavanaugh deserves a thorough, professional investigation by the FBI before proceeding with any vote on his nomination to the highest court in the land,” Heinrich said. Heinrich is facing reelection this year and his two challengers both previously said they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh if given the chance.

Poll: Dems lead in two key statewide races

Democrats are ahead in two of New Mexico’s most important races, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll. The poll’s results, released Sunday, showed 50 percent of likely voters would support Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and 43 percent for Republican Steve Pearce. The two are looking to replace Susana Martinez, a Republican who is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term. Both Lujan Grisham and Pearce are U.S. representatives, leaving their positions for the statewide run. Pollster Brian Sanderoff told the Albuquerque Journal that Pearce needs more support in the Albuquerque metro area, which holds a large percentage of the state’s population, if he wants to close the gap.

On the (hiking) trail with Heinrich

Last weekend, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and his wife Julie pulled up to an Albuquerque trailhead and were greeted by a group of eager supporters with hiking poles and hydration packs at the ready. Almost immediately, Heinrich became an impromptu trail guide, educating his constituents on the different native plants along the trail and which animals use them as food sources. At least twice, unsuspecting hikers recognized the affable sportsman who has worked in Washington, D.C. since 2009. One family hiking towards the top of the trail passed the Heinrich entourage on its way back to the trail head. As the two groups converged, one woman looked at Heinrich and asked, “Is it really you?

Candidate Q&A: Gary Johnson, U.S. Senate candidate

Editor’s note: This week, NM Political Report will publish Q&As with candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and governor about their policy platforms regarding a range of topics, including abortion, contraception, LGBTQ issues and domestic violence. For links to all of our stories, see here. 

The following is from a Q&A with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate. NMPR: If elected, how will your beliefs about the separation between government and religion guide your work in the U.S. Senate? Gary Johnson: Well, that they should be separate, period. They have to be, and that’s of course Constitutional.

More polls in the U.S. Senate race

The flood of U.S. Senate polls since Gary Johnson entered the race continued this week. Two new partisan polls show different visions of the U.S. Senate race, but both show the incumbent leading while the insurgent Libertarian candidate trails in third place. One newly-released poll by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research for The Majority Institute, an organization that seeks to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate, showed Heinrich with the support of 48 percent of likely voters, compared to 33 percent for Republican Mick Rich and 17 percent for Johnson, a former governor. The poll was conducted in early August, before Johnson formally entered the race. Another poll released before Johnson formally entered the race showed the same order.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate loses campaign manager

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mick Rich is down one major campaign staffer since Tuesday. Rich’s former campaign manager Evan Machan confirmed with NM Political Report that he left the campaign to “pursue other opportunities.”

Nathan James, the campaign’s spokesman, said the campaign would go back to its original staffing structure. “We’re returning to the non-traditional campaign strategies and team that we used to win the Republican nomination,” James said. Rich ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Machan came from Ohio to join Rich’s campaign last December after previously working on the presidential campaigns for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in 2016 and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2012.

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.