Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011.Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Pearce named to Natural Resources Committee

Last week, House Republicans announced members of the House Committee on Natural Resources for the 115th Congress. That list included Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico who had previously served on the committee from 2003 through 2009. In a statement from his office, Pearce said he plans to work on “restoring the health of our national forests, ensuring multiple use on appropriate federal lands, allowing Native American communities to grow and prosper, fighting for New Mexico water, preserving our national treasures and landmarks to safeguard them for future generations and more.”

NM Political Report asked Pearce’s chief of staff Todd Willens for more details about the congressman’s plans. Willens declined to provide additional information, but wrote in an email that “as the agenda for the committee reveals itself, the Congressman will update the public.”

This session, the committee is chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a proponent of private property and states’ rights and an opponent of any new national monument designations. Bishop announced last week the Republican members of the committee will “strengthen an aggressive agenda that we will pursue in partnership with a new administration.”

The committee, which includes 26 Republicans and 18 Democrats, considers legislation on a wide range of issues important to New Mexico, including public lands management, energy and mining, American Indians, fisheries, wildlife and irrigation.

Gov. Susana Martinez delivering the 2017 State of the State Address.

Pomp, circumstance and State of the State in photos

As is often the case, the first day of the 2017 legislative session began with lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters catching up and getting their bearings straight. The first day began with lawmakers settling into their new seating assignments and making new leadership official. Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was elected Speaker of the House, while Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, was elected by the Democratic caucus to serve as the Majority Floor Leader.  

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Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011.Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Report: Pearce among those who sought to weaken independent ethics office

Rep. Steve Pearce was one of the Republican members of Congress who voted to gut the independent office looking into ethics, according to a news report. The vote came during a closed-door meeting by Republicans and became public Monday. After a major public outcry, Republican lawmakers changed course Tuesday and announced they scrapped plans to remove the functions from Office of Congressional Ethics. Politico reported that Pearce was one of those who supported removing many key functions of the independent OCE, including its ability to refer allegations to law enforcement. The now-dead proposal sought to send give more power to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of members of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham with other panelists on a discussion about the environment.Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

Lujan Grisham to be part of Dem whip team

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be a Senior Whip in the Democratic caucus when the new Congress convenes next year. Lujan Grisham received the position after being named by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer on Thursday. This is the second high-profile position for Lujan Grisham in the upcoming Congress. Lujan Grisham was recently elected chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is made up of Hispanic members of the chamber, currently only Democrats. Hoyer referenced that position Thursday in a statement.

Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

Here’s who’s considering running to replace Lujan Grisham in Congress

Many Albuquerque-area political figures are rumored to be gearing up for a congressional campaign after New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she plans to leave the seat and run for Governor. There are still no definitive announcements or declared candidates, but the handful of people NM Political Report spoke to this week gave similar answers—that they have been encouraged to run and are giving it serious consideration. Some said they don’t want to run for family reasons, in particular because of the amount of travel that comes with the job. The state’s congressional members often travel back and forth from Washington D.C. and New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s family, for example, lived in Albuquerque while he served in the U.S. House before Lujan Grisham.

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Lujan Grisham running for governor

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham made it official on Tuesday and announced she will be running for governor of New Mexico. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a press release that she filed as a candidate for governor with the Secretary of State’s office. She also released a video announcing her intention to run, and didn’t shy away from criticizing current Gov. Susana Martinez. The video is embedded below. “We won’t solve our problems overnight.

Voting

Udall said no, but some Dems still looking at 2018 run for governor

After U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said he would not run to be the next governor, some Democrats released statements about potentially running for the state’s highest office. A spokeswoman for Hector Balderas, the state’s Attorney General, said he is considering a run for governor in 2018, and the mayor of Santa Fe says supporters have asked him to run. This is on top of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who previously said she would decide whether or not to run for governor by the end of the year. Related: Tom Udall says he will not run for governor in 2018

Caroline Buerkle, who worked on campaigns for Balderas in the past, sent a statement to media Wednesday afternoon after Udall’s announcement that he would remain in the US Senate. “Attorney General Balderas is seriously considering a run for governor and has deep concerns about the future of our state,” Buerkle said.

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Lujan Grisham to lead Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham will lead a group in Congress representing Hispanic members of the chamber. The Hispanic members of the incoming Congress elected Lujan Grisham as chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Congress. The Congressional Hispanic Congress is a non-partisan group made up of members of Congress which says it “advocates for issues important to Latinos via the legislative process in Congress.”

“I want to thank my colleagues for entrusting me with the great responsibility of leading the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 115th Congress,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement Thursday. “As the next Chairwoman, I intend to continue building on the many accomplishments we have achieved this Congress and ensure that the Caucus is leading the fight to support Hispanic communities and protect families across the country.”

The first vice chair will be Joaquin Castro of Texas, the second vice chair will be Ruben Gallego of Arizona and the caucus whip will be Pete Aguilar of California. All members of leadership are Democrats.

Official photo of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján

Luján remains DCCC chair, Pelosi still Minority Leader

Democrats in Congress voted to stay the course with leadership, including with one New Mexican in a key role. Ben Ray Luján, a Democratic congressman from northern New Mexico, will lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a second election cycle in a row. The position is not elected and is instead selected by the Democratic leader. That leader remains Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who was reelected to the minority leader position over Ohio’s Tim Ryan on a 134 to 63 vote. Pelosi has led the Democratic caucus since 2002, and often saw very little or no opposition for her time as Minority Leader or, when Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker.

New York, NY USA - July 16, 2016: Donald Trump speaks during introduction Governor Mike Pence as running for vice president at Hilton hotel Midtown Manhattan

Most of NM delegation denounces Trump’s selection for chief strategist

When President-elect Donald Trump made his first announcements of key members to his administration, one name jumped out to many: Steve Bannon. Trump named Bannon as his chief strategist and senior advisor, saying in a statement his role would be co-equal to Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus’ new role as Chief of Staff. The Anti-Defamation League brought up Bannon’s time as executive chairman of Breitbart, which ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt described as “the premier website of the ‘alt-right’—a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.”

Some members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation joined in on denouncing Bannon’s inclusion in Trump’s inner circle. NM Political Report asked about Priebus and Bannon when seeking comment. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat who represents Santa Fe, slammed the choice of Bannon in a statement. “Despite his stated desire to bring the country together, President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist is completely unacceptable, divisive, and dangerous,” Luján said.