May 1, 2019

Elections Roundup: Races take shape

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It’s a little more than 13 months until the 2020 primaries and we’re already getting a better sense of who will be running for what next year. In most races, at least.

The Democratic field in the 3rd Congressional District continues to grow, two big-name Democrats are in the Senate race and speculation continues to swirl about if a top-tier Republican name will run for the open U.S. Senate seat.

Here are the latest updates on New Mexico elections:

  • Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced her candidacy last week for U.S. Senate. In her announcement, she backed Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, along with campaign finance reform. See more in our story from Wednesday.
  • Maggie Toulouse Oliver held her first campaign event in Las Cruces. The location is interesting: Ben Ray Luján is expected to do well in northern New Mexico, where he is from, and Toulouse Oliver is from Albuquerque.
  • Republican Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson raised controversy after appearing on video with the far-right vigilante group United Constitutional Patriots. The video was from March, before the group recorded themselves detaining migrants crossing the border. After the April video of the armed vigilantes hit the news, Clarkson condemned their actions.
    “I regret that encouraging people to assist in passive surveillance of the border on private land later appeared to be an endorsement of armed “citizen arrests” on federal land. I believe that the rule of law is the exclusive role of law enforcement authorities. Even National Guard troops do not engage in law enforcement activities and are only on the border to support the brave men and women of Customs and Border Protection,” Clarkson said in a statement to media, including NM Political Report.

“Again, masked vigilantes are the antithesis of what a free republic looks like.”

  • A poll conducted between April 15 and 18 by GBAO Strategies for the Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s senate campaign showed that Luján leads Maggie Toulouse Oliver 64 percent to 25 percent. As always with internal polls, take the results with a grain of salt. The polling memo, obtained by NM Political Report, shows Luján has higher favorability ratings and name recognition, but the memo notes among those who know both Luján and Toulouse Oliver, that Luján leads 63 percent to 28 percent. Joe Monahan first reported on the poll’s results just after Maggie Touluose Oliver announced her candidacy.
  • Ahead of Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s announcement, Ben Ray Luján announced he was endorsed by  more than 300 New Mexico women, including former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and former Attorney General Patricia Madrid.
  • Democratic attorney Teresa Leger filed paperwork to run for Congress in New Mexico’s 3rd District.
  • The first Republican to announce he’s running for 3rd Congressional District is Brett Kokinadis. If that name is familiar, it’s because he founded the New Mexico Democrats for Democracy, a vocal anti-Michelle Lujan Grisham PAC. The heavily Democratic district has only once elected a Republican, Bill Redmond who won a special election for the seat in 1997, defeating Democrat Eric Serna and Green Party candidate Carol Miller. Redmond then lost to Democrat Tom Udall for the full term in 1998.

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