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.
A majority of New Mexico voters support legalizing recreational marijuana. And a governor who opposes the idea will leave office at the start of the year, giving hope to some supporters of the idea. But even if New Mexico’s next governor supports the legalization of recreational marijuana, a familiar obstacle would still stand in the way: the state Senate. State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino has sponsored legislation to legalize recreational marijuana since 2014. He’s tried with constitutional amendments in the past, but if Michelle Lujan Grisham, who supports legalization, wins office then the effort will go through regular statue.
Former President Barack Obama endorsed several New Mexico candidates Monday, including the Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor. Obama announced the endorsement of about 200 candidates nationwide on Twitter Monday. His focus, he announced, was on legislative and statewide races “that are redistricting priorities.”
Michelle Lujan Grisham and Howie Morales were happy with the endorsement, touting it in a statement shortly after Obama’s announcement. “This election is about bringing energy, vision, and experienced leadership to Santa Fe to build a stronger economy, expand health care access, and create a better future for our kids,” Lujan Grisham said. “That’s why I’m so honored to have President Obama’s support and trust as we work every day to protect and build on his legacy in New Mexico and create real opportunities for families across the state.”
Obama’s endorsement said that Lujan Grisham “stops at nothing to fight for the people she serves.”
“The last eight years have left New Mexicans waiting for a leader like Michelle, a leader who can restore hope and put opportunity back within reach,” Obama said.
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.
Campaign finance reports filed Monday showed positives for both gubernatorial candidates, with the Republican showing a lead with money left, but the Democrat raised, and spent, more money. Republican nominee Steve Pearce finished the campaign finance period—which lasted from July 1 to Sept. 3—with nearly $1.9 million cash-on-hand for the final two months of the race. This was well ahead of the $1.2 million cash-on-hand for his opponent, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. Lujan Grisham, however, raised $1.9 million in the period and spent almost $1.5 million.
An internal poll conducted for the Michelle Lujan Grisham campaign shows she leads Steve Pearce in the gubernatorial race by eight percentage points. The poll, by Democratic firm Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research, shows Lujan Grisham, the Democratic nominee, currently leads 52 percent to 44 percent. The polling memo says this is an increase from a five-point lead in June, after the primary. The memo says Lujan Grisham “is well positioned to be New Mexico’s next Governor.”
The Pearce campaign called it an “invented poll…designed to calm the panic.”
Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan also referred to an outside ad, not from the Lujan Grisham campaign that KOAT-TV pulled down for being false, and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver reinstating straight-ticket voting. Republicans and Libertarians filed a lawsuit to stop her from making the change.
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 Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic nominee for governor. NMPR: If elected, how will your beliefs about the separation between religion and government guide your administration? Michelle Lujan Grisham: … While the Constitution is pretty clear about religious freedom, there is a clear and distinct separation. I’ll give you a quick example.
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.
School funding lawsuits are usually long legal slogs, but New Mexico’s timeline could be shortened by years. Late this morning, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham was the first candidate for governor to say she would not continue a legal battle over whether the state is meeting its financial obligations to adequately educate children. And she called on current Gov. Susana Martinez to not appeal a landmark judicial decision against the state last week. “For too long, our education system has failed our children, educators, families and communities, drastically undermining our economy and our public safety while straining our overburdened social services. Today, I am calling on Governor Martinez to publicly commit to not appealing the landmark education lawsuit decision,” said Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Albuquerque’s Melanie Stansbury decided this was the year to run for office. She filed as a candidate for state representative in Albuquerque, in House District 28 in the Northeast Heights. Republicans have held the seat for over a decade but the Democrat is running an energetic campaign and raising thousands of dollars in donations. Stansbury followed her sister’s lead, a county judge who almost a decade ago went through the Emerge New Mexico program, which trains Democratic woman to run for office. Stansbury joked that she and her sister are the only “Emerge sisters to actually be real sisters in New Mexico.”