In April, Brett Kokinadis announced he was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and running for the open 3rd Congressional District seat. Three month later, Kokinadis is switching which race he’s running for, and is seeking the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District seat held by Democrat Deb Haaland. “I know others have announced on the Republican ticket in CD3, and I’m certain more will. It’s important that we show unity within the Republican party and have strong candidates in each race to offer voters an alternative to the reckless ultra-progressive agendas,” Kokinadis said in a statement. Kokinadis is touting his ties to President Donald Trump and says he met with Trump’s deputy political director in May, while he was running for the 3rd Congressional District seat.
Note: All week we will be counting down the top ten stories of 2018, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See them all here as they come in! If there was a competition for the New Mexican with the most mentions in national news stories, Debra Haaland would be a top contender. Haaland’s win received a lot of attention as she is the first Native American woman to represent New Mexico in Congress and one of the first two in the U.S.
Haaland came into the race as no stranger to New Mexico politics. A former candidate for lieutenant governor, Haaland was elected to by the Democratic Party of New Mexico to serve as the party’s chairwoman in 2015. Her competition that year was Richard Ellenberg, who succeeded her in that position, but was later ousted after his handling of accusations of sexual harassment within the party.
While Democrats led the way in fundraising in the latest quarter, federal campaign finance reports filed Monday show, one candidate considerably outraised the rest. NM Political Report first reported that Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, raised over $1.9 million yesterday. Her fundraising total was $650,000 more than all three candidates for U.S. Senate combined raised in that same time period. Torres Small spent over $1.3 million and finished with $1.1 million cash on hand for the final few weeks of the race. Her opponent, Republican State Rep. Yvette Herrell, raised $564,000 and spent $245,000, leaving her with $419,000 cash on hand for the final stretch.
Election Day is six weeks away and while the Democratic candidate is leading the race for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, neither of the other two candidates is giving up. In fact, both Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton are confident they can beat Democrat Deb Haaland. Arnold-Jones isn’t worried that a recent poll shows she is behind by eight points, and says voters have told her they often don’t participate in polls or answer questions honestly. “People I talk to don’t support the agenda that’s being pushed [by Democrats],” Arnold-Jones said. “They don’t support abolishing ICE, they don’t support doing away with police.”
Princeton, who recently earned the support of only three percent of likely voters in a poll, is optimistic he’ll gain more supporters before Election Day.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared at Democratic candidate Deb Haaland’s campaign office Tuesday to support the candidate and speak about reauthorizing the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). “As we pass laws about domestic violence and violence against women, we must recognize the specific nature of the challenge in Indian Country,” Pelosi told the room of campaign volunteers. Haaland is the Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, a position currently held by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Haaland will face Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton in the November general election. Pelosi praised Haaland and her campaign, but added that they are sure to see negative attacks from Republicans.
Delegates for the Democratic Party of New Mexico chose their preferred candidates for statewide and federal races Saturday afternoon at the state pre-primary convention. But before candidates finished their stump speeches, a brief protest and an alliance between two gubernatorial candidates caused some excitement. The Democratic convention showed higher numbers of both the number of candidates and convention attendees than the recent Republican and Libertarian state parties. Six state and federal candidates emerged from contested races as party favorites for the Democratic primary election in June. While he denied rumors that he was dropping out, gubernatorial candidate Peter DeBenedittis used his speech to encourage delegates to cast votes for another candidate in the race, Jeff Apodaca.
Some resources from national Democrats are trickling into New Mexico in an attempt to swing the state’s 2nd Congressional District from Republicans to Democrats. The national party is doing that as many predict a “wave” election for Democrats, and a chance to return the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats. To do that, Democrats will need to win in traditionally-Republican districts and retain all their own districts. This puts New Mexico on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s radar. Next year’s election will see two New Mexico congressional districts without an incumbent running for reelection.
NM Political Report has been in operation for more than two years and we’re proud of the investigative work we’ve done. Our readers and other news outlets know we are an independent, small, scrappy news organization. We also know that our ties to ProgressNow New Mexico, which serves as our fiscal sponsor and helps find funding for our operations, stick out to some. When ProgressNow NM’s executive director, Pat Davis, won an election in the fall of 2015 to the Albuquerque city council, we continued to report on city of Albuquerque issues, but always disclosed ProgressNow NM’s association with us whenever we mentioned or quoted Davis in one of our news stories. The disclosure usually went along the lines of this:
Pat Davis is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico.
Many Albuquerque-area political figures are rumored to be gearing up for a congressional campaign after New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she plans to leave the seat and run for Governor. There are still no definitive announcements or declared candidates, but the handful of people NM Political Report spoke to this week gave similar answers—that they have been encouraged to run and are giving it serious consideration. Some said they don’t want to run for family reasons, in particular because of the amount of travel that comes with the job. The state’s congressional members often travel back and forth from Washington D.C. and New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s family, for example, lived in Albuquerque while he served in the U.S. House before Lujan Grisham.