Note: All week we will be counting down the top ten stories of 2018, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See them all here as they come in! If there was a competition for the New Mexican with the most mentions in national news stories, Debra Haaland would be a top contender. Haaland’s win received a lot of attention as she is the first Native American woman to represent New Mexico in Congress and one of the first two in the U.S.
Haaland came into the race as no stranger to New Mexico politics. A former candidate for lieutenant governor, Haaland was elected to by the Democratic Party of New Mexico to serve as the party’s chairwoman in 2015. Her competition that year was Richard Ellenberg, who succeeded her in that position, but was later ousted after his handling of accusations of sexual harassment within the party.
Women dominated contested congressional races in the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday. Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Deb Haaland won the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary election late Tuesday night. Haaland picked up more than 40 percent of the votes in race with five other names on the ballot. About three hours after the polls closed, Haaland addressed her supporters packed into a small business space in Albuquerque Nob Hill, which also serves as her campaign office. “I am honored by all of your presence here,” Haaland told the crowd.
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.
A night that ended with one of the most stunning upsets in modern presidential history began, in Albuquerque and likely in many other cities throughout the country, with Democrats feeling optimistic about the country on the cusp of electing its first female president. At the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque, an enthusiastic crowd of state Democrats gathered to watch the election results and, they thought, to welcome Hillary Clinton to the White House. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who easily won reelection to represent the Albuquerque area, showed up wearing a white pantsuit. She also wore a button bearing Clinton’s face on her chest. She called her outfit “my white suffrage Hillary Clinton pantsuit.”
Donald Trump has lagged in support behind Hillary Clinton in New Mexico in all public polls this election season. But the boisterous Republican presidential nominee promised a crowd of roughly 2,500 people he would win the state. The crowd gathered Sunday to hear Trump speak in an airplane hanger just outside of the Albuquerque International Sunport. Related: Small protests greet Trump
“We’re tied—that’s not so good—we’re tied in New Mexico,” Trump told the crowd, echoing a statement last week from one of his campaign advisors on WABC, a New York radio station. “We’re going to win New Mexico.
A crowd of supporters wearing pink gathered at the Planned Parenthood clinic on San Mateo Boulevard in Albuquerque Saturday morning in anticipation of a day of canvassing in the North Valley. “On Nov. 8, pussy grabs back, and we’re not afraid to say it,” Marshall Martinez, public affairs manager of Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico, said to a cheering crowd in a reference to Donald Trump’s infamous 2005 hot mic video leaked from Access Hollywood earlier this month. The rally and day of canvassing is part of a larger “Pink Out The Vote” sponsored by Planned Parenthood across the country. “We know what’s at stake,” New Mexico Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland said at the rally.
Top leadership of the Navajo Nation endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president Friday. The Democratic National Committee announced the support of Navajo Nation president, Russell Begaye, and Vice President, Jonathan Nez, on Friday. The endorsements came as part of the DNC’s bus tour, which traveled to Albuquerque earlier that same day. Begaye praised Clinton’s work with Native Americans both during the campaign and during her time as U.S. Senator from New York. “In this campaign, she has committed to serving tribal nations through strengthening public safety, combating drugs and alcohol, advocating for access to high quality education, improving Indian health care, and fighting for our Native American veterans,” Begaye said.
On his second campaign visit to Albuquerque in three months, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence repeated many of the statements he touched on during his first visit. “When I get up in the morning, I’ve got to turn on the television with a stick,” the Indiana governor said, repeating a lament he said in August aimed at perceived media bias against Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. “The party in power just can’t seem to figure out my running mate,” Pence continued. “And of course, I’m talking about the media.”
Pence held the rally at the Hilton Embassy Suites near downtown Albuquerque. Saying media coverage of Trump’s scandals still hasn’t eliminated him from contention, Pence stated that the coverage is “kind of fun to watch.”
“They got one tweet and they think they got him,” Pence said, “and they get up the next morning and Donald Trump is still standing.”
Pence criticized media for ignoring “an avalanche of controversies” surrounding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Republican Party of New Mexico says the chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico should step down because of her actions at the Democratic pre-primary convention earlier this year. The state Republicans say that the cancellation of a non-binding presidential preference poll at the pre-primary convention in March shows the state party had bias toward Hillary Clinton. The party previously criticized Haaland for supporting Clinton after she defeated Bernie Sanders in the New Mexico Democratic primary, saying it was against Democratic party rules. “Much like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC, Haaland’s and the DPNM establishment’s bias toward Clinton was clear throughout the primary,” RPNM spokesman Tucker Keene said. “Haaland broke party rules to shelter her favored candidate from the embarrassment of losing a straw poll.
The state of the New Mexico Democratic Party platform is somewhat muddled right now after Saturday’s Democratic pre-primary convention at Isleta Casino & Resort. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy gave the keynote speech and the Democrats formally nominated candidates for Congress, Secretary of State and statewide judicial positions. Democrats also gathered to adopt a statewide platform that would be something Democratic candidates can point at as a list of values. It is non-binding and a candidate does not have to agree to all (or even any, technically) of the “planks” of the platform to be a candidate. Still, it is a good gauge of what the activists believe is important to the statewide party and is generally changed every two years. The Democrats who gathered went to vote on the platform and just over 59 percent agreed to endorse the platform; it takes 60 percent of delegates to adopt a platform.