Political endorsements may have little sway on undecided voters

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.

Farmers, legislators hope legalized hemp could breathe new life into economy

When Mikki Anaya worked as the executive director of the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for farmers and ranchers, she became acutely aware of what she characterized as a troubling trend in New Mexico. “A lot of families no longer farmed or ranched land that had been in our families for many generations,” Anaya said. “It deeply saddened me to see that transition happening.” Anaya started to study the dynamics of the change and concluded that economics were a root factor. “A lot of it is that people are just leaving our rural communities because there’s no economic opportunity there,” she said.

New Mexico Senate once again endorses hemp research

The New Mexico Senate, by a lopsided bipartisan majority, passed a bill Tuesday that would make it legal to cultivate hemp so researchers can study possible industrial uses. The legislation goes now to the House of Representatives, where other industrial hemp bills also are being considered. Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, which cleared the Senate 37-2, is identical to a McSorley hemp bill that passed the Legislature two years ago with strong bipartisan support but was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. The governor, in her veto message, claimed it could be confusing for law enforcement because the fibrous plant is basically the same plant as marijuana but with a much lower level of the intoxicant THC. McSorley on Tuesday repeated his insistence that “Industrial hemp research begins the process of bringing needed manufacturing and agricultural jobs to our state.”

Ex-NM statewide candidate might run for Congress in Texas

A political consultant who previously ran for statewide office in New Mexico is now mulling a run for Congress in Texas. Bob Cornelius, CEO of 90 Degrees Agency, said he’s seriously considering a run against Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, in next year’s Republican Party primary. In an interview, Cornelius said Carter’s voting record isn’t conservative enough, citing votes to fund the health care overhaul, which he calls Obamacare, and military cuts in continuing budget resolutions. “I’ve traveled the district and spoken to leaders in the party,” he said. “I’ll make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.”

Cornelius describes himself as a “constitutionalist” who’s both socially and fiscally conservative.

NM swims against criminal justice reform tide

The aftermath of a heinous crime that saw a career criminal kill a Rio Rancho police officer is sparking talk of tougher crime laws. Next week, state lawmakers in the interim Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee will hear testimony on a bill to add crimes to New Mexico’s existing “three strikes” law, which assigns mandatory life in prison sentences to convicts of three violent crimes. Yet the local legislative doubling down on “tough on crime” laws—two Republican state representatives are proposing changes that would tighten New Mexico’s three strikes law—comes at a time with strong national momentum in the opposite direction. And it’s Republicans with national ambitions that, in many cases, have been making headlines for this. “Former [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry is going around the country bragging that he closed three prisons,” said state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who supports criminal justice reform.

Bill that stops bulk data collection becomes law

A bill to stop the bulk collection of data as allowed through the post-9/11 Patriot Act passed the Senate on Tuesday and was quickly signed by President Barack Obama. Both members of the Senate from New Mexico voted in the majority on the 67-32 vote on the bill dubbed the USA Freedom Act. The bill had overwhelmingly passed the House weeks ago, but the Senate failed to get 60 votes to pass the bill and instead tried to pass a full reauthorization of the Patriot Act. That effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., failed because of bipartisan opposition, highlighted by a filibuster by his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Rand Paul. New Mexico’s junior Senator Martin Heinrich was among the Democrats who pitched in to the filibuster.

Heinrich pitches in to help Rand Paul’s filibuster

It’s a rarity in the Senate these days: bipartisan cooperation. And even more of a rarity: a bipartisan filibuster. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, conducted a filibuster over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of data. When Paul, who is also running for President, conducted his filibuster, it wasn’t only a few his fellow Republicans who helped him out—there were even more Democrats, including New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich. From the National Journal:
Seven Democrats spoke with Paul, compared with just three Republicans.

High profile NM Dems support Clinton

Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid on Sunday, ending one of the worst-kept secrets in American politics. As Clinton launches her campaign, she is a significant favorite to take the Democratic nomination that she lost to Barack Obama in 2008. One reason why, FiveThirtyEight explained, is endorsements. Clinton has pretty much already won the endorsement primary, the all-important pre-voting race to lock up party establishment support.2 Last time she ran for president, Clinton lost the endorsement primary. By this point in the 2008 campaign, she had only one senator endorse her publicly.

NM delegation backs vaccinations for children

With a resurgence of measles in a number of states there are heightened concerns over the increase in unvaccinated children. Some politicians have found themselves involved in the controversy by backing a discredited idea that vaccinations cause autism. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have each walked back statements on the issue this week. New Mexico’s congressional delegation each backed immunization of children in statements to New Mexico Political Report. “When it comes to public health, I follow science and the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control.

Health officials warn of measles’ rise alongside numbers of unvaccinated

While New Mexico has so far been spared from the latest outbreak of measles, the increasing number of local schoolchildren who haven’t been vaccinated is cause for concern as the highly contagious disease afflicts surrounding states. The Santa Fe New Mexican last week cited figures from the Department of Health showing a 17 percent increase since 2012 in the number of vaccine exemptions requested by parents. From the article:
New Mexico law allows parents to request vaccination exemptions for their children based on medical need or religious beliefs. The exemptions registered with the Department of Health cover all vaccines, not specifically measles. But the recent measles outbreak is reason to raise awareness, said state Health Secretary Retta Ward.