August 21, 2019

Elections Roundup

Note: This is an edition of the NM Political Report Elections Roundup, which comes out twice a month on Tuesdays (and will increase to ever week when elections near) as an email newsletter. Sign up to get the newsletter here.

Quick hits

Toulouse Oliver gets progressive backing

In perhaps related news, Maggie Toulouse Oliver is getting support from Luján’s left. Last week, the Working Families Party endorsed Toulouse Oliver.

“Maggie shares our working family values because she has lived them,” said Andrea Serrano, Executive Director of Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLE) and a member of the Working Families Party National Committee. “As a single mom who lived paycheck-to-paycheck and worked her way through college, Maggie knows the struggles facing most New Mexicans and will fight to improve their lives.”

Action PAC, a PAC seeking to flip the Senate from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority,  endorsed Toulouse Oliver. All of the other candidates endorsed by the PAC are candidates running in races currently held by Republicans.

To that end, The Intercept wrote about Toulouse Oliver’s campaign this week, framing the race as one between a progressive, Toulouse Oliver, and the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Luján.

GOP Senate primary

Republicans have rarely had high-profile statewide primaries in recent years. Perhaps it’s the scars of the brutal Heather Wilson-Steve Pearce 2018 U.S. Senate primary, which Pearce won, but then went on to lose in the general election by over 20 percentage points.

Then again, in 2010 Susana Martinez won a five-way primary for governor and went on to defeat Democrat Diane Denish, who faced only a write-in opponent in the Democrat primary.

Now, Republicans are facing another primary in a statewide race, with Albuquerque contractor Mick Rich facing former Trump administration official Gavin Clarkson for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

The winner will likely be an underdog of the winner in the Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Democratic primary in CD3

Democrats, meanwhile, have a massive primary brewing in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. Last week, environmental attorney Kyle Tisdel announced he would run for the seat, which Luján is vacating to run for Senate. Tisdel is focused on addressing climate change in his run for Congress.

“We are in a climate emergency, representing an existential threat to people across New Mexico, our country, and the entire planet,” Tisdel said. “The silence in this race on climate change has been deafening. We need leaders in Congress who will make climate change a top priority, and recognize that the work we do to solve this crisis will help to bring greater equity and prosperity to all Americans.”

Then, a couple of days later, Rob Apodaca announced he was leaving the race, citing the recent passing of his brother. Apodaca was a former USDA official.

And just this week, another candidate announced his candidacy: John Blair, a former Barack Obama administration official in the Interior Department and a former Deputy Secretary of State. 

“We’ve got Republicans in Congress more interested in their NRA rating than kids being shot at school,” Blair said in announcing his candidacy. “And we’ve got Big Pharma cashing in while we pay through the nose for prescription drugs. Standing up to Republicans and their special interest cronies in Washington has never been more important.”

With the new moves, it means there are eight candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the heavily Democratic seat.


The seat Republicans are most likely to take back in 2020 is the southern New Mexico seat, long the most Republican area of the state. Democrat Xochitl Torres Small narrowly won the election in 2018 over Yvette Herrell. And Herrell, a former state representative, quickly announced she would run again in 2020. She faces Las Cruces business owner Chris Mathys in the Republican primary.

Herrell received a boost in that effort last week, when the National Republican Congressional Committee named her to the organization’s “Young Guns” program. Herrell was one of 42 candidates put in the “On the Radar” section. In other words, the Republican organization devoted to electing more Republicans to the U.S. House is backing Herrell.

“We will continue to work hard daily building a first-rate campaign operation that will push us over the finish line next November and return a strong conservative voice to the New Mexico Congressional delegation,” Herrell said in a statement.