As Democrats gear up for a legislative session after retaking the state House of Representatives and expanding their majority in the state Senate, several members are looking at ways to increase New Mexico’s minimum wage. Two lawmakers have already pre-filed legislation to do so ahead of the session, which begins Jan. 17. One measure would double New Mexico’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $15 an hour by January 2018. Another more cautious bill ups the minimum wage to $8.45 an hour.
Mike Pence showed up in Las Cruces Wednesday for a campaign rally in an airport hangar and sounded confident that New Mexicans would vote for Donald Trump. “This movement is coming together,” Pence said according to the Albuquerque Journal. “New Mexico is coming together, and we’re going to make Donald Trump the next president of the United States of America.”
It was the third trip by Pence to New Mexico and the first to Las Cruces, as the Trump campaign seeks to put New Mexico in play after two large victories by Barack Obama in the state in 2008 and 2012. Both the Trump campaign and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign are airing ads in New Mexico. Polling has shown Clinton leading in New Mexico.
One of the key races that will decide the political control of the state House of Representatives pits an upstart against a Roundhouse veteran in southern New Mexico. The incumbent, Republican Andy Nuñez, has represented the district for most of the past decade and a half. He faces former Nathan Small, a Democrat who recently served two terms on the Las Cruces city council. NM Political Report will profile some key legislative races from now until election day. Nuñez, 80, is perhaps best known for switching his political affiliation multiple times over in the past few years, from Democrat to independent to Republican.
The Hillary Clinton campaign announced that their top campaign surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, will head back to New Mexico to campaign ahead of the June 7 primary. The campaign announced Tuesday morning that Bill Clinton will appear in Las Cruces for a campaign appearance on Thursday, June 2. Last week, Bill Clinton campaigned in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Bill Clinton will speak to supporters at Picacho Middle School in Las Cruces this Thursday. The event is expected to start at 2:30 p.m. but doors will open at 1:30 p.m.
“President Clinton will attend a public event in Las Cruces where he will discuss why Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to break down all the barriers holding families back,” the statement says.
LAS CRUCES — In a southern New Mexico Democratic primary election to replace Rep. Jeff Steinborn, the race appears remarkably civil. But the race between three Democratic candidates vying for the open seat is also very competitive. So far, all have raised between $10,000-$12,000 each for the June 7 election. And each candidate offers their own flavor. Angelica Rubio, 36, emphasizes her broad organizing experience that involves successfully leading a push to raise the minimum wage in Las Cruces and managing the campaign of City Councilor Kasandra Gandara, a progressive who won election last fall by just 18 votes.
A recount of some ballots in two Las Cruces city council districts confirmed the original results: Jack Eakman and Kasandra Gandara won their close races earlier this month.*
NM Political Report first reported earlier this month that those who lost wanted a recount. The recount found no changes to the official results that were confirmed days after the election. Eli Guzman, who lost in District 1, and Richard Hall, who lost to Eakman in District 4, sought a recall of five of the nine voting locations. Guzman and Hall asked for a recount of four voting convenience centers for election day voting and a fifth location that included early and absentee ballots. Las Cruces, like other cities throughout the state, uses voting convenience centers to allow voters to cast ballots at any of the locations throughout the city.
Two city council races in Las Cruces that finished with close results will be headed to a recount. NM Political Report confirmed with the Las Cruces city clerk that Eli Guzman and Richard Hall each requested recount. The two candidates requested recounts of five polling locations. The two progressive candidates won by the initial count in the Nov. 3 elections.
The big spending by a political action committee in the recent Las Cruces elections is receiving national attention. USA Today cited the spending by GOAL WestPAC in trying to defeat incumbent mayor Ken Miyagishima as one way that money is increasingly flooding into local elections. In New Mexico, the focus of the Goal WestPAC is “the economic and business climate” in the state, said Mark Murphy, the PAC’s chairman and president of Strata Production, an oil-and-gas exploration company in Roswell, N.M., about 180 miles northeast of Las Cruces. Murphy and his company also have donated $35,000 to the super PAC, records show. PAC officials decided to target Miyagishima and city politicians over what Murphy called a “history of overregulation and taxation,” including support for a 2013 gross receipts tax.
Las Cruces mayor Ken Miyagishima won a third term despite an out-of-town PAC pouring in tens of thousands of dollars to defeat him, according to unofficial election results. The progressives in the non-partisan elections also appeared to sweep the elections, with Kasandra Gandara and Jack Eakman pulling out narrow victories in high profile city council races. They joined District 2 incumbent Gregory Z. Smith in winning elections on Tuesday. The big story in the final days and weeks of the election was GOAL West PAC, a federal PAC funded mainly by southeast New Mexico residents with ties to the oil and gas industry, and their advertising blitz in an attempt to turn the race.
New Mexico’s second largest city will go to the polls Tuesday and will vote for the mayor and city councilors in three districts. The Las Cruces elections have featured more high profile campaigning–and much more mudslinging–than other recent local elections, including those in Albuquerque. Unlike Albuquerque’s recent elections, there are three contested districts and a mayoral race on the ballot this year. This may lead to Las Cruces bucking the trend of reduced voter turnout in New Mexico (though it isn’t a sure thing). Mayoral race
At the top of the ballot is the mayoral race where the top story is likely the massive amount of money that has been poured in by a federal PAC.