Prominent Democratic U.S. Senators are blasting out their support for Martin Heinrich after the entry of former Governor Gary Johnson shook up the U.S. Senate race. Johnson made his first public comments Thursday. On Friday, Elizabeth Warren,Kirsten Gillibrand and others tweeted support for incumbent Martin Heinrich—and criticisms of Johnson. Warren, a progressive Democrat from Massachusetts though to be considering a run for president in 2020, tweeted, “Gary Johnson – who’s supported abolishing the minimum wage, raising the Social Security retirement age, & gutting health care – jumped into the New Mexico Senate race against my friend Martin Heinrich.”
Johnson responded in a tweet that Warren was “pretty off-base on my positions.”
Gillibrand, another Senator who may run for president in 2020, wrote in a tweet thread that Heinrich “has been a champion in our fights for better health care, better education opportunities and better jobs. We can’t afford to lose his voice right now and let Gary Johnson take New Mexico backward at the expense of working families, so we need to rush Martin our support.”
Both included fundraising links for Heinrich’s campaign.
Gary Johnson is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. At least that seems to be the message from the former two-term Republican governor, two-time Libertarian presidential candidate and now Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico. “I am angry at the two-party system, I think we’ve all been hoodwinked to believe these are our only choices,” Johnson said at a press conference on Thursday. The press conference was the first time Johnson spoke publicly as a U.S. Senate candidate since the Libertarian Party of New Mexico nominated him earlier this month. The party filed paperwork to formally nominate Johnson earlier this week.
Last year as hardcore band Cipher took the stage in Philadelphia, the group’s frontman, Maurice “Moe” Mitchell, took a moment to call for unity. “The hardcore scene, and I grew up in the hardcore scene, was a rare space where people of all different race, class, gender, expression, create a community together,” Mitchell told the crowd. That rare message in today’s political climate is one that Mitchell seems to take with him everywhere, including as an organizer for Black Lives Matter and, more recently, as the national director for the Working Families Party. Mitchell came to New Mexico this week as part of a “national blitz” and said he plans to take what he learned in the grassroots world of progressive organizing and apply it to the more-distinctly-organized world of political campaigns. “When you’re coming from a very, sort of, top-down staff model, it can be very scary to give that much latitude to people you may not even know,” Mitchell said of how political groups are typically structured.
A new poll shows that Democrats lead in statewide races, while Republicans are currently in the lead in the race to keep the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by the Republican incumbent. KOB-TV first reported on the poll, which was released by Carroll Strategies Wednesday morning. The poll by Carroll Strategies shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leads 50.5 percent to 42.1 percent, while Libertarian Bob Walsh pulls in 3.1 percent (it isn’t clear yet if Walsh will appear on the general election ballot). Four percent of voters are undecided. Incumbent Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third term because of term limits.
On New Mexico’s primary election day, in almost triple-digit heat, former state Senator Dede Feldman stood outside an Albuquerque middle school with a signature-filled clipboard in hand. It’s not uncommon to see people gathering signatures outside of polling locations for various political efforts. But Feldman wasn’t there to get anyone elected. The former four-term lawmaker, shaded by a wide brimmed hat, was collecting signatures to get a public campaign finance initiative on the ballot in November for Albuquerque voters. The initiative that Feldman and others hope to get on the ballot would increase money to at least some municipal candidates in Albuquerque who take part in the city’s public financing system.
For New Mexico Democrats, the celebration and rallying didn’t stop after he primaries on Tuesday night. About 75 party officials, candidates and their supporters crammed into a back room of an iconic Albuquerque restaurant Wednesday morning to celebrate primary wins from late the night before. Democratic primary winners Deb Haaland and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham energized the crowd at Barelas Coffee House with talks about winning the general election in November. “We have the most incredible Democrats,” Lujan Grisham said. “I have to say this is one of the strongest tickets I’ve ever seen.”
Haaland, who is the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat Lujan Grisham currently holds, encouraged Democrats to take any criticism from Republicans with a grain of salt.
“You know all of this doesn’t have to be so serious, when we’re getting hit with this barrage of horrible things from the Republicans,” Haaland told the crowd.
One of the less-surprising moments on Tuesday was when U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham won the Democratic primary for governor. A recent Albuquerque Journal poll showed Lujan Grisham more than 40 points ahead of former television executive and son of a past New Mexico governor, Jeff Apodaca. On Tuesday night, election numbers showed Lujan Grisham with more than 60 percent of the vote against Apodaca and state Sen. Joe Cervantes. “You guys are awesome,” Lujan Grisham said to supporters Tuesday night during a victory speech in Albuquerque. In the last several weeks, the race became increasingly contentious when Apodaca’s campaign criticized Lujan Grisham’s role in a private company that manages the state’s high risk insurance pool.
As last-minute attacks swirl and campaigns shift efforts to get voters to the polls, candidates filed their final campaign finance reports before the Tuesday primary election. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham once again led the way in fundraising, and she also spent the most money out of all four gubernatorial candidates in the most recent campaign finance period, which spanned from May 8 to May 29. She raised over $215,000, more than twice her two Democratic opponents combined, and spent nearly $710,000. She finished May with nearly $1.1 million cash on hand. State Sen. Joe Cervantes spent nearly $575,000, and finished with nearly as much campaign cash in his coffers as Lujan Grisham.
This weekend, NM Political Report sat down with Congressman Ben Ray Luján for an interview. Luján was back in the state, a day after voting against the Farm Bill, which failed because conservative Republicans and Democrats voted against the proposal. Luján is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization devoted to electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives. NM Political Report spoke to Lujan about the 2018 elections, immigration and more. The following Q&A is edited for clarity and length.
New Mexico In Depth is speaking with the candidates for New Mexico governor on the issues of early childhood, child wellbeing and education. Michelle Lujan Grisham is the congresswoman from Albuquerque, and is one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Sylvia Ulloa: Can you lay out what early childhood education would look like in New Mexico under your administration, and how you would get early childhood to rural New Mexico? Michelle Lujan Grisham: Early childhood education would be a hallmark of the administration. We want every child to have universal access.