The state Democratic and Republican parties will have new leadership next year. Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Debra Haaland and Republican Party of New Mexico Chair Debbie Maestas both announced they would not run for a second term in their positions. Republicans will pick a new chair in mid-December, while Democrats will pick a new chair next April. This year’s elections saw Democrats retake control of the state House of Representatives, expand their margin in the state Senate and won the race for Secretary of State. But Republicans had some good news when their candidate won a seat on the state Supreme Court.
The New Mexico Republican Party opened up about the statements made by Donald Trump in 2005 where he said he kissed women without their permission and bragged that he groped women. The state party is standing by Trump despite the controversial comments that have caused dozens of Republican elected officials to renounce their support and say they would not vote for the Republican party’s presidential nominee. “The Republican Party of New Mexico certainly does not condone the language used nor the actions described in the video of Mr. Trump released on Friday, however we believe Mr. Trump to be a different man than that today and that he is the better choice for president,” state party chair Debbie Maestas said in the Sunday night statement. The statement mainly focused on Trump’s performance in the debate, which Maestas said was “resilient” and “what his campaign needed.”
The state GOP is at odds with Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, who reiterated this weekend that she would not support Trump. “What Trump brags about is appalling and completely unacceptable,” Martinez said in a statement to media Saturday.
A national Republican group highlighted four high priority state races in the upcoming elections. The Republican State Leadership Committee put four New Mexico races in their “16 in ‘16: Races to Watch” list earlier this week, including the high-profile Secretary of State race. Outside of the presidential race, election to replace Dianna Duran as Secretary of State is the lone statewide non-judicial race this fall. That race pits Republican State Representative Nora Espinoza against Democratic Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The other three races on the list are legislative races.
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate prompted reaction from New Mexico politicians, most notably our state’s own governor. “Thanks to Governor Mike Pence’s strong, conservative leadership, Indiana is in a more prosperous position now than before he was elected, and it’s a direct result of his commitment to pro-growth policies and successful governance,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement for the Republican Governors Association, which she chairs. “The RGA congratulates Governor Pence on his selection as the Republican Vice Presidential Nominee and we look forward to the nation benefiting from his dynamic leadership.”
Martinez is among the few high profile GOP figures who hasn’t officially endorsed Trump. She previously clashed with the New York business magnate over his immigration policies, which include building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country. When Trump visited Albuquerque in May, he criticized Martinez at his rally for presiding over a state with a large number of food stamp recipients.
The news that former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned came early Friday morning, mostly through social media. After NMpolitics.net confirmed that Duran indeed resigned, many involved in New Mexico politics weighed in. The director for Common Cause New Mexico, a non-partisan non-profit group that advocates for more campaign disclosures and clean elections, also said Duran’s resignation is a step towards regaining public trust. “The 2016 elections are already upon us, and voters and candidates alike need to know that the office is functioning at the highest level possible,” Common Cause New Mexico’s director Viki Harrison said. “Our hope is that Governor Susana Martinez will quickly appoint a qualified person to serve the rest of Duran’s term so that the fundamental functions of our state’s democracy may be restored.”
Republican Party of New Mexico chair Debbie Maestas outlined four Democratic targets in the party’s quest to take control of the state Senate. Included is the largest thorn in the side of Gov. Susana Martinez, herself a Republican, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen. The Roswell Daily Record reported on comments Maestas made to the Chaves County Republican Women. Maestas said Republicans are targeting the seats of Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, Sen. William Soules of Las Cruces and Sen. Michael Sanchez of Belen. Sapien has already received a challenger, Diego Espinoza.
A politically connected Republican announced on Wednesday that he will be challenging a state senator in a key swing district next year. Diego Espinoza announced that he will seek the District 9 seat currently held by Democrat John Sapien. Espinoza, a program director for CSI Aviation, has experience in running campaigns, if not his own. Espinoza was the campaign manager for Allen Weh’s unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2014 and governor in 2010. Weh owns CSI Aviation and Weh is the father of current Republican Party of New Mexico chairwoman Debbie Maestas.
This year’s four-and-a-half-hour special session left many lawmakers praising their own bipartisan efforts to pass three bills including a tax package, capital outlay appropriations and money for courts and health care facilities. While some lawmakers debated the bills and pointed out inadequacies of the legislation, all of the legislation either passed unanimously or by a large majority. When the Legislature announced Sine Die, many lawmakers made their way straight for the doors, but soon after a flurry of press releases were sent out. Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, touted the Capital Outlay bill as a good start to create jobs and keep New Mexican’s employed. “Our main task in the Senate is to serve people and we are doing that today.
The Republican Party of New Mexico says that the office of the State Auditor is not complying with the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. In a press release sent to media on Wednesday afternoon, the party says it received no response from an IPRA request sent to State Auditor Tim Keller’s office on May 4. Because of this, the party sent a complaint to Attorney General Hector Balderas. Update: The office of the State Auditor has responded to the request in a document dated May 20. The response calls the request “excessively burdensome” and that the office “will need additional time to respond to your requests but we will do so as soon as is reasonably practicable.”