All 112 legislators are up for reelection this year. As of Monday, seven had already said they would not seek reelection. More could decide not to run before the March 10 deadline for major party candidates to make the primary ballot. Write-in candidates can file to run on March 17. Retiring House members
Rep. Abbas Akhil, New Mexico’s first Muslim legislator, announced last year that he would not seek a second term.
The state House passed a bill Saturday to create tougher penalties for illegal New Mexico “chop shops” that dismantle stolen vehicles to sell for parts. The lower chamber passed House Bill 156 in a 62-2 vote, which would create a new crime specifically for “chop shops” that knowingly cut up stolen vehicles to sell on the illegal market. Rep. Abbas Akhil, D-Albuquerque, one of the primary bill sponsors, said he got together with other lawmakers after concern from his constituents with extremely high auto theft rates. National Insurance Crime Bureau data released last year showed that Albuquerque led the nation in car theft rates in 2018. The problem is especially acute for those who live in apartments and leave their cars idling to warm up during the winter months, Akhil said.
New Mexico has a rich car club culture, ranging from lowrider and vintage cars to modern models too fast and too furious for many people. But on a cool Sunday in Santa Fe, about 30 minutes from the state capitol, another group of car enthusiasts gathered to discuss their automotive passion: Teslas. The Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico met in the parking lot of a rustic New Mexican restaurant, just a few days before a legislative committee was expected to vote on whether to allow the automotive upstart a chance to set up shop in New Mexico. The group of about two dozen sleek cars were a far, yet quiet, cry from the loud engines, custom, aftermarket paint jobs and flashy chrome one might expect from a traditional New Mexico car club. Another difference that unites New Mexico Tesla owners is that none of these cars were purchased or can be serviced at a traditional auto dealer in the state.
Former President Barack Obama endorsed several New Mexico candidates Monday, including the Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor. Obama announced the endorsement of about 200 candidates nationwide on Twitter Monday. His focus, he announced, was on legislative and statewide races “that are redistricting priorities.”
Michelle Lujan Grisham and Howie Morales were happy with the endorsement, touting it in a statement shortly after Obama’s announcement. “This election is about bringing energy, vision, and experienced leadership to Santa Fe to build a stronger economy, expand health care access, and create a better future for our kids,” Lujan Grisham said. “That’s why I’m so honored to have President Obama’s support and trust as we work every day to protect and build on his legacy in New Mexico and create real opportunities for families across the state.”
Obama’s endorsement said that Lujan Grisham “stops at nothing to fight for the people she serves.”
“The last eight years have left New Mexicans waiting for a leader like Michelle, a leader who can restore hope and put opportunity back within reach,” Obama said.
The kickoff of NM Political Report’s monthly News and Brews summer series Thursday night featured a candid discussion about how the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency affected New Mexicans from different perspectives. Our own Environment Reporter Laura Paskus moderated the event, which featured insight from immigration attorney and Santa Fe Dreamers Project Director Allegra Love, former U.S. Department of Agriculture New Mexico State Director for Rural Development Terry Brunner and former Islamic Center of New Mexico President Abbas Akhil. Brunner, who headed USDA grants for New Mexico for rural development under the Obama administration, described Trump’s first 100 days as “fast and scary, kind of like a rollercoaster.”
“You wake up in the morning, it’s something completely new and different every day,” he said. Brunner warned that the effect of Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric combined with picking officials without traditional qualifications to run federal agencies will “spread fear throughout the bureaucracy” and cause federal workers to “hunker down” and bring government’s delivery on services to the public “to a really slow lethargic pace.”
Brunner mentioned how in January, House Republicans evoked an obscure rule allowing them to drop federal employees’ salaries to just $1, which he argued is meant to “intimidate federal employees.”
“The [James] Comey firing is a sign that nobody’s job is secure,” he said, referring to Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the FBI director earlier this week. Love, who directs the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, a legal services group that helps undocumented families, said the immigrant community began to feel the effects of Trump‘s incoming presidency the day after he was elected.
Dozens of people who oppose Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees gathered in Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon, standing behind a coalition of speakers who said they were ready to fight against Trump’s efforts. Some held signs, saying “We’re Not Going Anywhere” and “Mayor Berry: Reject Trump’s Immigration Machine #heretostay.”
Signed Wednesday, Trump’s order makes official the administration’s plans to increase deportations, punish sanctuary cities by ending federal grant funding and build a new border wall between the United States and Mexico. At the press conference, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos executive Rachel LaZar said those who oppose Trump will fight back. “We will organize locally to pass and strengthen local immigrant friendly policies,” LaZar said. “We will use strategic litigation to fight back and we will ramp up some of our organizing efforts to fight back against Trump’s deportation machine and agenda of hate.”
ACLU of New Mexico executive director Peter Simonson echoed LaZar.