Analysts see NM as likely to flip in next gubernatorial race

Two election analysts say that New Mexico’s gubernatorial election is among the most-likely in the nation to switch parties. Politico and The Washington Post each recently highlighted the top ten gubernatorial races to watch. New Mexico ranked second for Politico and first for the Post. Incumbent governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term. She leaves office with low popularity and her party faces a headwind in the first general elections after the election of Donald Trump.

Report: After GOP opposition, no Skandera federal nomination

Objections by U.S. Senate Republicans ended talk that Hanna Skandera might join the Donald Trump administration, according to a report in Politico Thursday. The report, which led the outlet’s Morning Education tipsheet, said the New Mexico Public Education Department secretary’s support for the controversial Common Core standards were one reason Republicans were skeptical to confirm her as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. “I am focused on continuing the great progress we have started and will continue in New Mexico,” Skandera said in a statement to NM Political Report when asked about if she had any conversations about joining the Trump administration. “When education focuses on students and not politics, everyone wins.”

Skandera is the head of the governing board of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which produces a standardized test in public schools aligned with Common Core. Republicans have largely criticized Common Core standards, which the Barack Obama administration supported. Common Core standards’ roots came out of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act.

Meet the man peering into the UNM ‘fishbowl’ 10,000 words at a time

An apartment in downtown Chicago overlooking the historic Navy Pier is probably the last place University of New Mexico officials would expect some of the most ardent criticism of their athletics program. But that’s exactly where the shots toward the UNM athletic department are being fired from. Since last November, journalist Daniel Libit has been writing investigative stories about the UNM athletic department on his self-published website NMFishbowl.com. He received probably the most attention yet when he filed an open records lawsuit last week against UNM Foundation arguing that the non-profit organization should be held to the same transparency standards as the university itself. The lawsuit stems from records Libit requested from UNM Foundation as well as the school itself regarding information on the naming rights of WisePies Arena (aka The Pit).

Gary Johnson radio ads hit seven states

Gary Johnson is putting some money behind ads to boost his campaign in a handful states, including his home state of New Mexico. The Libertarian Party presidential nominee, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, is airing radio ads in seven states, according to Politico. The Washington D.C.-based news organization cited “a media buying source” who said Johnson is spending over $800,000 in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin. When Johnson ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in 2012, he performed best in New Mexico, taking nearly 4 percent of the overall vote. Nationwide, Johnson received just under 1 percent of the vote.

Ted Cruz taps Carly Fiorina as running mate

At a Wednesday afternoon rally in Indianapolis, Ted Cruz named former presidential rival Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate if he can manage to snag the Republican presidential nomination from frontrunner Donald Trump. Cruz, who had promised hours earlier to make a “major announcement” Wednesday afternoon, had declined to say earlier in the day whether he planned to name a running mate then. Campaigning earlier Wednesday in Indianapolis, Cruz told reporters he would make his announcement at a rally in the city at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Earlier this week, Cruz’s campaign announced that it had come up with a short list of potential candidates for vice president and that it was vetting Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO and former presidential candidate. While he declined to say whether he planned to name a running mate at the rally, Cruz reiterated his criteria for such a selection.

Martinez endorses Rubio

Gov. Susana Martinez is getting off of the sideline and will endorse Florida Senator Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination. Politico first reported the news and reported that Martinez will go on the campaign trail for Rubio in Kansas and Florida this week. The conventional wisdom is that Rubio, who is currently in third place in delegates in the Republican race, must win Florida to have any chance at winning the nomination. Rubio has won just one of the fifteen states that have held caucuses or primaries so far. “Marco Rubio is a compelling leader who can unite the country around conservative principles that will improve the lives of all Americans,” she said in a statement according to the Washington D.C. website.

Martinez campaign vet takes fire over Jeb campaign

With the tremendous failure of the Jeb Bush presidential campaign—from frontrunner to dropping out after failing to win a single state—the political press is already digging through the campaign’s carcass. And with that comes blame over campaign leadership, which includes campaign manager Danny Diaz, who was a part of Susana Martinez’s two successful gubernatorial campaigns in New Mexico. The biggest criticism of Bush’s campaign was the inability to deal with the rise of Donald Trump as a significant political force. This led to a host of other problems for Bush, including an inability to connect with voters and an inability to turn the race to topics that would be better for Bush’s strengths. A Washington D.C. lawyer who donated six figures to a Super PAC that supported Bush laid the blame directly at the feet of Diaz.

Rubio raises possibility of VP Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez is once again receiving attention for a possible national political positions. Republican Presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio spoke in South Carolina about those he thought would be good choices for a running mate on a presidential ticket and mentioned Martinez by name. From Reuters:
Rubio said the good news is Republicans have a deep talent pool from which to pick a vice presidential running mate. One name that he mentioned in particular: the governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez. Rubio said a VP choice “has to be someone who is ready to be president” and “someone you can work with.”

As 2016 elections near, Luján steps into the spotlight

In the current permanent campaign cycle, the most important election is always the next election. And with Ben Ray Luján as the new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization tasked with electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives, New Mexico will have a figure at the center of the next elections. The DCCC and Democratic Policy and Communications Committee have given a preview of what the next few weeks will look like, as Congress goes on its annual August recess. The Democrats are looking to retake the House or at least start to bridge the gap with the Republican majority. According to Roll Call, there will be a good cop/bad cop routine by the Democrats in the coming weeks with the DCCC, and Luján as the head, as the bad cop.