A new poll shows good news for Democrats in New Mexico’s two top statewide races and a close race for a hard-fought congressional race in southern New Mexico. Emerson College released their second round of polling of likely voters in New Mexico, and the poll showed Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leading Republican Steve Pearce 53 percent to 44 percent in the gubernatorial race. The two are involved in an expensive race that has included millions of dollars spent on TV ads from both sides in the hopes of replacing Susana Martinez as governor. Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third consecutive term. A previous Emerson College poll conducted in August showed Lujan Grisham leading Steve Pearce 42 percent to 40 percent.
Governors typically come into office with high expectations, after telling voters what legislation they’ll ensure passes to improve the state. But they can run into one major challenge: the state legislature. Any legislation must pass both the House and Senate with a majority from each chamber. To do so, the governor must convince and cajole members who represent ethnically, socio-economically, geographically and ideologically diverse districts throughout the state to advance the legislation. At times, their efforts crash upon the rocks and the promised progress is stalled.
Come Jan. 1, 2018, New Mexico will have a new governor. New Mexicans will decide who that governor will be next week. That new governor will need to do a number of things. He or she will have a little less than two months before inauguration to name members of the new cabinet and get ready for the upcoming legislative session that begins in mid-January.
The latest New York Times/Siena College poll shows just how close the 2nd Congressional District race remains. The poll found that Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell leads her Democratic opponent, water attorney Xochitl Torres Small, 45 percent to 44 percent, with still 11 percent undecided. Nate Cohn of the New York Times, who is part of the congressional polling project for the newspaper, says it was their closest result yet. The poll notes that the margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent means each candidate’s true numbers could be that much in either direction. Spending in the district, which is in the millions by outside groups, shows they also believe the race is one of dozens in the nation that will determine who controls the U.S. House of Representatives.
Attack ads, political bottle tossing and recriminations have marked this year’s race to replace outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez, who is leaving office due to term limits. The campaign’s increasingly dark tone illustrates the state of play in politics here in New Mexico and across the nation. But under the tribalism lies something else: A set of stark differences in visions held by the two candidates, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce, who have both abandoned seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for a shot at the Governor’s Mansion. During three televised debates, Pearce and Lujan Grisham have hurled broadsides and frontal attacks at one another on a host of issues bedeviling the state — from education to immigration, economic development to marijuana legalization, energy to water conservation. Clashes over how to address New Mexico’s persistently high crime rates, particularly in Albuquerque, have torched some of the race’s oxygen, too.
ROSWELL— Former Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon spoke to a crowd of about 150 people in Roswell Thursday night about his new film Trump@War. He also took the opportunity to praise Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich, calling him a “real populist.”
Bannon said his film was not intended to change minds about Trump, but instead to rally Trump supporters ahead of November’s midterm election. “This is not a midterm,” Bannon told the crowd. “This is Trump’s first reelect.”
Rich praised Trump and the controversial strategist. “When I looked at this race, I looked at President Trump,” Rich said.
Controversial political figure and former presidential chief strategist Steve Bannon will make an appearance in New Mexico on Thursday in support of the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. UPDATE: Steve Bannon: Mick Rich is a ‘real populist’
Mick Rich’s campaign confirmed that Bannon will speak on behalf of his political group Citizens of the American Republic in Roswell, stumping for the Albuquerque construction contractor and political newcomer. The Rich campaign said the event is sponsored and paid for by Citizens of the American Republic and Rich will appear as a guest. Nick Gerard, a staffer with the Mick Rich campaign, said Bannon’s appearance is notable for both the campaign and the Republican Party. “A lot of people nationally kind of look at New Mexico and just assume it will forever and always be a Democratic state and that’s not the case on the ground,” Gerard said.
Early voting in one key southern New Mexico county is not only outpacing past years, it is so far beating out all other counties in the state. Through the end of Monday, 4,304 Doña Ana County voters already cast their ballots either by early in-person voting or by returning absentee ballots. And Democrats are happy, as 56.9 percent of those voters are Democrats. In 2016, 50.28 percent of early and absentee voters were Democrats. Statewide, 22,702 voters have already cast ballots.
The NM Elections Roundup comes out every Tuesday morning through email. The following is an excerpt from this week’s email. To get the full version each week, including a look at the ads on the air, sign up here. The Associated Press reported that Republican candidate Steve Pearce invested millions of dollars in companies that lease equipment for oil and gas exploration. One of those companies, Trinity Industries, was previously described as renting party equipment.
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