SANTA FE—It was a political nerd’s dream. Dozens of people aiming for state office filed through the elevator doors into the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday to navigate the three-stage process of declaring their candidacy. The day offered a rare early opportunity for candidates and their staff to interact with one another—which included a lot of smiles and polite handshakes, even across party lines. The process was straightforward—there were three stations to verify and confirm paperwork and petition signatures—and took about 20 minutes for most candidates. Here are my notes from the field: 9:05 a.m. I’m running late, because I’m from New Mexico.
A Republican announced this week she will run for New Mexico Secretary of State. The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that Albuquerque attorney JoHanna Cox plans to run for the position as a Republican. According to the Journal, Cox decided to run for Secretary of State to reform election policies and procedures. Cox, an attorney, has held leadership positions in both the Valencia and Santa Fe County district attorney’s offices, before opening her own private practice. Cox’s announcement comes days after former Democratic State Representative Sandra Jeff announced her intention to run for Secretary of State as a member of the Libertarian Party.
Tragedy struck the Republican Party of New Mexico as their young communications director passed away. Tucker Keene, 25, had been the communications director of the state party since January of 2016. Party chairman Ryan Cangiolosi announced the news in an email Monday morning. “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague W. Tucker Keene,” Cangiolosi wrote. “He was a brilliant writer, tenacious promoter of our cause, keen political communicator and most importantly, a wonderful person,” Cangiolosi continued.
The president of a New Mexico business advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the state Republican party for defamation. Carla Sonntag, the president of the New Mexico Business Coalition alleges the Republican Party of New Mexico falsely accused her of attacking party chair Ryan Cangiolosi in a series of anonymous emails to party members ahead of the state party’s election. In December 2016, the state’s Republican Party sent an email to committee members apologizing for a series of anonymous emails disparaging Cangiolosi. In the email, the party blamed Sonntag for sending the emails. “The Republican Party of New Mexico, in consultation with our legal team, has done its investigative research and has uncovered that these emails come from accounts registered to Carla Sonntag and family,” the email from the party read.
The state Democratic and Republican parties will have new leadership next year. Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Debra Haaland and Republican Party of New Mexico Chair Debbie Maestas both announced they would not run for a second term in their positions. Republicans will pick a new chair in mid-December, while Democrats will pick a new chair next April. This year’s elections saw Democrats retake control of the state House of Representatives, expand their margin in the state Senate and won the race for Secretary of State. But Republicans had some good news when their candidate won a seat on the state Supreme Court.
“When Democrats win the election and you didn’t do your part to stop it… Your neighbors will know.”
That’s the message on a mailer from the New Mexico Republican Party encouraging early voting. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. But not everyone is thrilled by it. “I feel like this is a threat,” said Dusty Deen, a 35-year-old Roswell resident who received the mailer this week. The flier features a woman peeking out her blinds “as though she voted for Hillary and they’re forming a mob,” said Deen, who is an unaffiliated voter..
The Republican Party of New Mexico says the chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico should step down because of her actions at the Democratic pre-primary convention earlier this year. The state Republicans say that the cancellation of a non-binding presidential preference poll at the pre-primary convention in March shows the state party had bias toward Hillary Clinton. The party previously criticized Haaland for supporting Clinton after she defeated Bernie Sanders in the New Mexico Democratic primary, saying it was against Democratic party rules. “Much like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC, Haaland’s and the DPNM establishment’s bias toward Clinton was clear throughout the primary,” RPNM spokesman Tucker Keene said. “Haaland broke party rules to shelter her favored candidate from the embarrassment of losing a straw poll.
The New Mexico Republican Party opened up about the statements made by Donald Trump in 2005 where he said he kissed women without their permission and bragged that he groped women. The state party is standing by Trump despite the controversial comments that have caused dozens of Republican elected officials to renounce their support and say they would not vote for the Republican party’s presidential nominee. “The Republican Party of New Mexico certainly does not condone the language used nor the actions described in the video of Mr. Trump released on Friday, however we believe Mr. Trump to be a different man than that today and that he is the better choice for president,” state party chair Debbie Maestas said in the Sunday night statement. The statement mainly focused on Trump’s performance in the debate, which Maestas said was “resilient” and “what his campaign needed.”
The state GOP is at odds with Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, who reiterated this weekend that she would not support Trump. “What Trump brags about is appalling and completely unacceptable,” Martinez said in a statement to media Saturday.
In a sign of just how unpopular the two presidential candidates for major parties are, both Secretary of State candidates are fielding attacks for supporting their own party’s nominee. The Democratic Party of New Mexico hammered Republican Secretary of State candidate Nora Espinoza for speaking at rallies headlined by Trump running mate Mike Pence. “Nora Espinoza’s embracing Donald Trump’s misguided values will do nothing to restore integrity to the secretary of state’s office or to help implement the reforms New Mexico needs,” DPNM Vice-Chair Juan Sanchez III said in a statement earlier this week. Related: Poll: Clinton leads Trump in NM, Toulouse Oliver leads SOS race
Friday, the Republican Party of New Mexico responded by saying Democratic candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s support of Hillary Clinton was problematic. “Toulouse Oliver cannot credibly campaign on an ethics platform if she thinks Hillary Clinton should be president despite her long history of dishonesty and crooked dealings,” RPNM spokesman Tucker Keene said in a statement.
Darren White’s view on marijuana changed drastically in the past two decades. Nearly 20 years ago, he resigned from then-Gov. Gary Johnson’s administration after Johnson backed marijuana legalization. Now, White not only backs Johnson, he’s come around to Johnson’s point of view on marijuana legalization (with some caveats). Related: See why White is backing Johnson for president
White isn’t alone among Republicans (yes, White remains a Republican despite backing the Libertarian Party nominee for president). A recently-released poll by YouGov found that a narrow plurality of Republicans back marijuana legalization: 45 percent to 42 percent.