Majority of voters support NM’s law protecting abortion access

A poll commissioned by NM Political Report found that a majority of voters support abortion rights, including a law protecting abortion rights recently passed by the state legislature, and also are poised to approve dipping into the state’s massive land grant permanent fund for education funding. Abortion rights could be at the forefront of midterm elections as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer. When asked in the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling if abortion should be always legal; legal with some limitations; illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life; or always illegal, a majority said it should be legal (with 30 percent saying always, 25 percent saying legal with limitations). Just 13 percent said it should always be illegal and 29 percent said it should be illegal except in the cases or rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. When asked about the new state law that would allow abortion to remain legal in New Mexico regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, 53 percent said they supported the recently enacted law and 36 percent said they opposed it.

Poll: Lujan Grisham with narrow lead at start of general election

A new poll commissioned by NM Political Report shows that incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds a narrow lead over Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti at the start of the general election campaign. The poll by Public Policy Polling shows Lujan Grisham leads Ronchetti 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Karen Bedonie receiving 9 percent and 5 percent saying they’re not sure. The lead for Lujan Grisham is within the margin of error for the poll. Related: Poll: Lujan Grisham even approval/disapproval ratings

Lujan Grisham won the 2018 gubernatorial campaign 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent over Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate and now chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico. Ronchetti lost the 2020 U.S. Senate election to Democrat Ben Ray Luján 51.7 percent to 45.6 percent with Libertarian Bob Walsh taking 2.6 percent.

State Supreme Court orders Otero County Commission to certify primary election results

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered three county commissioners in southern New Mexico to comply with state law by certifying the county’s primary election results. 

After the three-member Otero County Commission refused to certify election results during a meeting on Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver filed a petition with the state’s high court asking justices to compel the county commission to follow state law and to do their ministerial duty. On Wednesday, the state supreme court granted the writ of mandamus and ordered the commissioners to “comply with the requirements set forth in [state law].”

The commission has until Friday to meet and certify the election or presumably face a contempt of court charge. 

Otero County Commission Chair Vickie Marquardt could not be reached for comment, but Commissioner Couy Griffin told NM Political Report that he plans to “hold the line.”

“What the state is trying to do to us by leveraging us, and taking control, essentially, of our commission board through the courts, I believe, is very unconstitutional and it’s an absolute disgrace.”

Griffin was found guilty earlier this year of illegally entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

State law requires that local governments certify election results within 10 days of an election and then send the results to state election officials for further certification. Until that process is completed, the election results are deemed unofficial and the winners of the primary election are not officially candidates. Holding up the certification process also means that Griffin’s colleague, Commissioner Gerald Matherly, who won his Republican primary race by 32 percentage points, is still not considered a general election candidate.

Ronchetti wins Republican nomination for governor

Mark Ronchetti, a former meteorologist, won the Republican primary for governor and will face incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this November. Ronchetti won a five-way primary after being the candidate with the highest name recognition and the most campaign funds throughout the primary. In his victory speech, Ronchetti touted his credentials. “When I announced my campaign, I said I was running because politicians have forgotten us….they don’t listen. I’m a political outsider,” the former U.S. Senate candidate said, “and I won’t apologize for that.”

Torrez wins Democratic Party nomination for attorney general

Raúl Torrez won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, defeating Brian Colón. Torrez is a former federal prosecutor whose resume includes attending both Harvard and Stanford universities. He currently serves as the Bernalillo County district attorney—a position he has held for five years—and that county provided him with a healthy advantage. As results came in, Torrez took 57.7 percent of the early and absentee voters in Bernalillo County. 

As the district attorney, Torrez announced last year a memorandum of understanding with the state Indian Affairs Division to form a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force subunit within the district attorney’s office. Torrez also served as assistant attorney general in 2008 and 2009 where he handled cases of police misconduct and exploitation of children.

Former Las Cruces City Councilor Vasquez wins CD2 Democratic nomination

The Associated Press has called former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez the winner of the Democratic primary election for the 2nd Congressional District nomination, defeating Dr. Darshan Patel, of Lea County. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell did not face a primary opponent. Vasquez will now run against Herrell in November. Herrell defeated Democrat Xochitl Torres Small in 2020 in one of the most contested, and most expensive, House of Representative seat races in the country. Democrats consider the 2nd Congressional District a race that is in play.

What to watch for in today’s primary elections

Voters, at least those who have not voted already, will decide which candidates will take part in November’s general election today. 

State races

The marquee race is on the Republican side, where five Republicans vie for the party’s nomination for governor. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham in November, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Two Libertarians, one of which is a write-in candidate, are also vying for their party’s nomination. Two public polls released in May show that former weatherman and 2020 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mark Ronchetti with a healthy lead over his opponents. State Rep. Rebecca Dow, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, retired National Guard Brigadier General Greg Zanetti and anti-abortion activist Ethel Maharg are the other candidates seeking the position.

Lujan Grisham announces reelection campaign

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made it official on Thursday: She is running for a second term in office. At an event in Old Town New Mexico, she announced that she would run for a second term. No New Mexico governor has lost a reelection campaign since 1994 when incumbent Bruce King lost to Gary Johnson. Every governor since then has won a second term. “We’re gonna protect New Mexico and no amount of noise will deter, intimidate or create a vacuum in leadership.