Liberty, freedom and Vermin Supreme: A weekend at the Libertarian convention

ORLANDO — When I told friends I was headed to the Libertarian National Convention, many assumed I would be surrounded by a group of gun-toting, pot-smoking Republicans who advocate total anarchy. This proved to be untrue—mostly. Note: This is part one of a two-part series by Andy Lyman on the weekend at the Libertarian National Convention. Part two will run on Saturday. For all of Andy Lyman’s stories from Orlando, see The 2016 Libertarian National Convention series. 

Aside from a rotund candidate for national Libertarian Party chair stripping down to a thong while dancing on stage and some outspokenly frustrated anarchists, the conference was largely tame.

Martinez’s army of silent spokespeople

A report by the Santa Fe Reporter delved into something that has troubled local reporters for some time: how unresponsive public information officers under Susana Martinez have been. The highly-paid positions are usually well above twice the median salary of the state. From the report:
Emails, phone calls and text messages to the public information officers are often ignored. Even program managers more often than not refuse to go on the record or discuss policy plans and objectives. Many claim they’ve been instructed not to talk to the press.

Gary Johnson secures Libertarian nomination

ORLANDO — Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is the Libertarian nominee for president. After two rounds of voting Johnson secured 518 number of votes or 55.8 percent. The first round of votes resulted in Johnson securing almost 50 percent of the vote, or 458 delegates. According to convention rules, a candidate must receive at least 51 percent of the votes in order to become the official nominee. By the second round, Johnson won 55 percent of the votes and secured the nomination.

Trump rally in Albuquerque next week

Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump will make an appearance in New Mexico next week according to the schedule on his campaign website. Trump’s campaign announced an event at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. It will be the first campaign appearance by a Republican in New Mexico this year. Trump is the lone remaining Republican candidate, after 16 other candidates dropped out. New Mexico’s primaries take place on June 7, though New Mexico may be a tough sell for Trump, even when he has all-but locked up the Republican nomination.

Toulouse Oliver leads Espinoza

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver leads State Rep. Nora Espinoza in the race for Secretary of State. That’s according to results from a poll of likely New Mexico voters by Public Policy Polling, commissioned by NM Political Report. Toulouse Oliver, the lone Democrat, has the support of 43 percent of voters. Espinoza, the lone Republican, has the support of 36 percent of voters. There are still 21 percent who say they aren’t sure who they will vote for this November.

Bernie Sanders coming to New Mexico

Bernie Sanders will be visiting New Mexico. The presidential candidate’s campaign announced Monday that he will appear at rallies in Santa Fe and Albuquerque this Friday, May 20. Note: This story has been updated. The first, in Santa Fe, won’t be one of the massive rallies that Sanders has become famous for—attendance is capped at just 2,500 for the small space, per the New Mexican. The rally will take place in the Witter Fitness Center, which is the Santa Fe Community College’s gym.

Clinton leads in NM in three-way race

A poll conducted for NM Political Report by Public Policy Polling shows that Hillary Clinton would lead a general election match-up against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and possible Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. Clinton is the likely Democratic Party nominee. The poll, conducted this weekend, found that Clinton leads in a three-way race with 41 percent of the support of likely New Mexico voters. Trump would come in second with 33 percent and Johnson would receive 14 percent of support. Johnson is a former two-term New Mexico governor.

Martinez approval rating below 50 percent

A poll commissioned by NM Political Report shows that Gov. Susana Martinez’s approval rating is below 50 percent, down from the highs of her first term in office. The poll, conducted this weekend by Public Policy Polling, found that Martinez’s approval rating among likely voters now sits at 47 percent, while her disapproval rating sits at 42 percent. This leaves 11 percent who are not sure how they would rate Martinez’s time in office. See also: Who do voters want to see replace Martinez in 2018? Unsurprisingly, Martinez’ highest rating comes among Republicans; 67 percent approve of the way she’s doing her job, while 26 percent disapprove.

Accusations of widespread fraud at HSD grow while officials plead the fifth

LAS CRUCES — In a scene of high drama reminiscent of the TV drama “Law and Order,” three prominent state Human Services Department officials invoked their fifth amendment rights nearly 100 times in federal court Friday afternoon. Their refusal to answer questions came directly after sworn testimony from six HSD employees who alleged a widespread practice of fraudulently altering federal food benefits applications. The practice, according to eight former and current HSD employees who testified in federal court last month and today, amounts to adding false assets to the applications of people who would otherwise qualify for emergency aid from their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. “I still don’t understand why I had to falsify assets,” Shar Lynne Louis, a case processor at HSD’s Income Support Division (ISD) office in Gallup who retired last July, said in court. Louis testified that the state had been practicing the pattern of fraud since at least 2003, when she first came to the department.

Candidates in House race changed addresses at a convenient time

A look into one New Mexico House race shows that the candidates updated their voter registration days before an appointment to the state House late last year. All three candidates currently running for state House District 21 previously applied to be appointed in the district. And all three changed their voter registration information days before Bernalillo County commissioners voted on the appointment. The appointment was necessary after Stephanie Maez resigned. All three candidates are Democrats; there are no Republican candidates seeking the position.