Albuquerque Police detectives found what they think may be illegally obtained campaign contributions while investigating Solomon Peña and the shootings he allegedly masterminded. “APD detectives learned through witness interviews related to the shooting investigation that Peña identified individuals to funnel contributions from an unknown source to his legislative campaign,” an APD news release states. “Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking and whether campaign laws were violated.”
Campaign finances are regulated under the Campaign Reporting Act, or CRA, which is under the State Ethics Commission’s purview. “Presently, our office is reviewing the matter for CRA violations,” State Ethics Commission spokeswoman Suha Musa said via email. “If the Commission takes action in this matter, it will do so at a public meeting.”
The Campaign Reporting Act dictates how campaign funding can be used.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham began 2023 with her inauguration at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. Her inauguration address featured goals for the upcoming year, including fighting homelessness, addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic and setting up a state healthcare authority. “I am indescribably proud of New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said in her inaugural address. “Our fortitude, our compassion, our dignity – it’s who we are. It’s who we’ve always been.
Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See our entire countdown of 2022 top stories, to date, here. A Blue Wave came to New Mexico in November with Democrats winning all three federal congressional seats for the third time since 1982 when New Mexico was granted a third congressional district. 1st Congressional District incumbent Democrat Melanie Ann Stansbury easily won reelection against Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes and Independent write-candidate Victoria L. Gonzales. Stansbury won 56 percent of the vote while Garcia Holmes won 44 percent and Gonzales received less than 1 percent with 58 votes in her favor.
The two state legislature recounts were completed earlier this month and showed no change to the outcomes. The state canvassing board met Wednesday morning where it certified the recount results for State House districts 32 and 68. “There were, importantly, no changes in the outcome of the contests from our original certification,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said at the state canvassing board meeting.
The certifications mean Democrats will hold a 45-25 advantage in the chamber in the 2023 legislative session next month. The recounts were for State House District 32 between Democratic incumbent Candie Sweetser and Republican challenger Jennifer Marie Jones and State Rep. Dist. 68 between Republican candidate Robert Henry Moss and Democratic candidate Charlotte L. Little.
Jones won the District 32 house seat with 3,789 votes to Sweetser’s 3,743 votes and the District 68 house seat went to Little with 5,651 votes to Moss’ 5,616.
The New Mexico State Canvassing Board certified the 2022 General Election at their Nov. 29 meeting. The election results were certified after a third-party auditor declared no findings and the election results were sent to the canvassing board for certification. “Our office worked closely with our county clerks across the state of both political parties to ensure we all had the information and the tools necessary to conduct a successful election,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse-Oliver said. “This was absolutely a team effort.”
As New Mexico’s counties begin certifying vote totals in the 2022 Midterm election, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a joint statement on Nov. 15 that warned of possible disruptions to the election certification process during county commission meetings. “This week, New Mexico’s county commissions are playing their vital role in the administration of our elections by performing their legal duties as the county canvassing boards in their respective counties,” the statement said. “The ‘canvass’ is the process of reconciling and confirming the accuracy of the election results and reporting those results to the county and then to the state. Under the law, these county boards support the county clerk in the canvass of the election and are mainly responsible for ensuring the timely certification of the county clerk’s report of canvass.
After a close race for Congressional District 2, Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez declared victory over Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell, who conceded. The unofficial vote count for the Congressional District 2 race showed Democrat Gabe Vasquez at 50.32 percent, or 96,556 votes, and 49.68 percent of the vote or 95,332 votes going to Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell.
Update: The Associated Press projected Gabe Vasquez as the winner at 8:36 a.m. on Thursday. “Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing that happens in Washington that New Mexico can’t do better,” Vasquez said in a press release. “To everyone out there struggling, no matter whether you voted for me or not, please know this: I see you, I hear you, and I’ll fight my heart out for you, because public service is a sacred responsibility that I will never take for granted.”
Herrell conceded to Vasquez Wednesday afternoon. “While we are disappointed by the final results, I am incredibly proud of our team and the work we did serving our district, and I am grateful for the steadfast support of so many who helped us along the way,” Herrell said.
The 2nd Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez is still too close to call with both candidates having 50 percent of the vote. Two state House seats, meanwhile, appear poised to trigger automatic recounts. Vasquez has 96,253 votes in his favor and Herrell has 95,238 votes in her favor, a margin of 1,025 votes for Vasquez, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office election results page.
“These are unofficial results- that’s important to know- they don’t become official until the state canvassing board meets and certifies them on Nov. 29,” New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Alex Curtas said. “Only then will we know whether or not the result is within the margin to trigger an automatic recount.”
The margin to activate an automatic recount is one quarter of one percent of the vote total.
House Democrats will maintain their 45 seats in the state House to 25 for Republicans in the upcoming legislative session, with all precincts reporting, but a handful of votes still to count (provisional ballots and other ballots that require a hand tally). Update (3:30 p.m.): After this was published, one race, HD-68, switched and the Democrat now leads by 30 votes. This story has been updated to reflec this. This is after Democrats held a 45-24 edge over Republicans coming into the elections. One member was Decline to State, which means he did not affiliate with a political party.
Tuesday night ended with incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham winning reelection to the governor’s office. “Tonight, New Mexico said yes – yes to hope, yes to growth, yes to fighting for our neighbors, not against them,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “Tonight New Mexico said yes to equal justice under the law, New Mexico said yes to economic opportunity for all, New Mexico said yes to more health care for families, better education for kids and more economic freedom for workers and students.” The expensive campaign featured millions of dollars of ads on each side, with attack ads blanketing airwaves and mailers filling inboxes for weeks. Lujan Grisham spoke about protecting abortion access, while Ronchetti campaigned on crime, saying it was out of control in the state.