Two big-name Dems say no to public financing in ABQ mayoral race

Albuquerque mayoral candidates have about a week to file their next campaign finance reports. For most, it will be their first reports filed this election. While many of the candidates speak highly of public financing, only one has qualified for it. New Mexico Democrats, for example, have pushed for more publicly financed races and campaigns since at least 2008, when the party added language to their state platform that says“all political campaigns should be publicly financed.”

The Albuquerque mayoral race is nonpartisan, so none of the candidates will be identified with any specific political party on the ballot. Related: Privately-funded ABQ mayoral candidates ready for first reporting deadline

Mayoral candidates Deanna Archuleta and Brian Colón are both prominent Democrats running for mayor who both opted to use private funds for their campaigns.

NM voters moving towards political parties in election year

The months leading up to the general election show an increasing number of voters in New Mexico aligning themselves with a political party in the state rather than registering as independents. Democrats account for roughly half of registered voters, according to data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. The other half splits among Republicans, minor parties and those who decline to state an affiliation. But since January the number of registered Democrats spiked by about five percentage points and the number of registered Republicans increased by roughly 4 percentage points. Minor parties also saw an increase in voter registration since the beginning of the year.

NM Auditor, HSD launch probes into SNAP fraud allegations

State Auditor Tim Keller announced Friday an investigation by his office into allegations that the state instructed employees to commit fraud on federal food stamp applications. Keller wrote on Twitter that he “has opened a case to look into the allegations of food assistance application fraud by HSD.”

A spokeswoman for the state auditor said he opened the case after learning about the allegations that came up in federal court. The news came one day after five Human Services Department employees testified that the department instructed them to falsify emergency applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. HSD officials wanted employees to add fake assets to several emergency SNAP to cut down the department’s high numbers of overdue emergency applications, according to the multiple testimonies. Federal law requires those who qualify for emergency SNAP benefits to receive benefits within seven days of applying.

NM Dems fail to endorse party platform

The state of the New Mexico Democratic Party platform is somewhat muddled right now after Saturday’s Democratic pre-primary convention at Isleta Casino & Resort. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy gave the keynote speech and the Democrats formally nominated candidates for Congress, Secretary of State and statewide judicial positions. Democrats also gathered to adopt a statewide platform that would be something Democratic candidates can point at as a list of values. It is non-binding and a candidate does not have to agree to all (or even any, technically) of the “planks” of the platform to be a candidate. Still, it is a good gauge of what the activists believe is important to the statewide party and is generally changed every two years. The Democrats who gathered went to vote on the platform and just over 59 percent agreed to endorse the platform; it takes 60 percent of delegates to adopt a platform.

New proposed rules would implement online registration

There still isn’t a permanent Secretary of State more than a month after the resignation of Dianna Duran, but the office scheduled a public review of proposed rule changes for later this month. The proposed rule changes will be discussed at a public hearing on December 29; the rules are required to go into effect by the beginning of 2016. This year, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill requiring the Secretary of State to start allowing online updates to existing voter registrations by the beginning of the year allow for online of new voter registrations by the beginning of July 1, 2017. Secretary of State Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz said that a lack of a permanent Secretary of State is no barrier to implementing the rule changes. “The Office of Secretary of State has an Acting Secretary, Mary Quintana who is in charge and leading the office, including the rule-making process,” Ortiz told NM Political Report in an emailed statement. “Given the strict timeframes established by the election code, Acting Secretary Quintana believes it is in the best interests of all voters and citizens that the process continue to move forward.”

GOP governors choose Martinez to lead RGA

As was widely expected, Republican governors selected Susana Martinez to lead the Republican Governors Association. The governors picked Martinez to be the next chair of the organization on Thursday at a meeting in Las Vegas, which pushes Martinez even further into the national spotlight. The selection will surely prompt more discussion of Martinez as a possible Vice Presidential candidate or cabinet member of a Republican presidential administration. Martinez has denied any interest in national office each time she is asked. Martinez previously was the vice chair of the RGA, which is an organization that represents Republican governors throughout the country and seeks to get more Republicans elected to the position. Republicans currently are in the majority of governor’s mansions across the country, 31 in all.

State Dems name Kabourek as new executive director

The Democratic Party of New Mexico has named a new executive director, a major hire for new party chair Deb Haaland. Joe Kabourek will head down I-25 from Colorado to New Mexico to take over the position with the state party, which is reeling after state legislative losses in 2014. “I look forward to working with Democrats across New Mexico to win in 2016 and to create a strong foundation for elections to come,” Kabourek said in a statement. Kabourek is a licensed attorney and campaign vet. The Villanova University School of Law graduate most recently was the campaign manager for Don Quick, who ran for Attorney General in Colorado.