New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week requesting assistance for New Mexico families affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires who are seeking financial relief from the federal government. “I write to you regarding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s current rulemaking under the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act,” the letter dated Dec. 6 states. “I am also very concerned with the lack of progress we have made recovering our environment and cultural heritage for our communities.”
The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire burned 341,735 acres. The wildfire began as a prescribed fire in April near Las Vegas.
Attorney General Hector Balderas has his next job lined up, as president of Northern New Mexico College in Española. Balderas is term-limited and could not run for a third consecutive term as Attorney General.
Balderas was chosen unanimously by the NNMC Board of Regents from a list of four finalists. “I’m inspired that the community was involved in the selection process—they have hope for change, and I am honored that the regents, faculty and staff will partner with me as we take Northern New Mexico College into the future, building on student success and institutional development,” Balderas said in a statement. Balderas will still need to discuss his contract with the board. His term as attorney general ends at the end of the year, and his replacement, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez, will be sworn in at the start of 2023.
Democrat Raúl Torrez won the New Mexico Attorney General’s race, leading easily over Republican Jeremy Michael Gay according to unofficial election results as of 10:45 p.m.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas termed out so the Attorney General race was open in 2022. Torrez defeated Brian Colón, who is the current state auditor, in the Democratic primary.
Torrez is currently serving as Bernalillo County District Attorney. He won Bernalillo County by 61 percent of the vote as of 10:45 p.m.
Torrez was not available for comment Tuesday night but through a news release, that he is “honored and humbled” by the win. “Nasha and I want to thank every single person who helped this campaign and supported my vision for New Mexico. I want to thank Jeremy Gay for stepping up to run for elected office and serve the people of New Mexico.
“This election is just the beginning as we embark on the work to make our state a safer and more prosperous community for the future.
A poll conducted last week for KOB-TV found incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham with a large lead over Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti. The poll conducted by SurveyUSA for the Albuquerque-based TV station found that 53 percent of likely voters supported Lujan Grisham, compared to 37 percent for Ronchetti and 3 percent for Libertarian nominee Karen Bedonie. Another 7 percent said they were undecided. This is the largest lead shown of any publicly released poll in the governor’s race so far. A poll conducted for NM Political Report at the tail end of the same week found Lujan Grisham led Ronchetti by 8 percentage points.
Democrats lead in the key statewide races for attorney general and secretary of state according to a NM Political Report poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. The closer of the two races is the open race for attorney general. The poll find Democrat Raúl Torrez, the current 2nd Judicial District Attorney, leads former special assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Gay, a Republican, 45 percent to 37 percent, with 18 percent who said they are not sure. This is almost identical to the results of a June NM Political Report poll, when Torrez led 44 percent to 37 percent. The seat is open because incumbent Democrat Hector Balderas is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined and a coalition of 21 attorneys general signed onto an amicus brief in support of Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton, a lawsuit waged to protect abortion access in other states from Texas anti-abortion laws. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, joined 20 other attorneys general in signing the “friend of the court” brief supporting a Texas abortion fund fighting a legal battle to protect interstate travel for abortion care. The brief, filed on Friday, supports the abortion fund’s motion to halt Texas abortion laws that violate the constitutional right to interstate travel by impeding pregnant individuals in Texas from crossing state lines to seek an abortion. According to the motion, Texas’ abortion laws unlawfully interfere with the constitutional right to interstate travel. One of the concerns, according to the brief, is that thousands of individuals who are residents of states such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal, could be living in Texas for college, graduate school or serving as temporary workers and could find themselves in need of an abortion.
Millions more travel to Texas as visitors, and they, too, could be in need of abortion care while traveling.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a motion on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s legal abortion status. Filed in the Fifth Judicial District Court in Chaves County in late June by state Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, Roswell-based write-in Independent candidate for New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Larry Marker and Albuquerque-based former Republican primary candidate for Governor Ethel Maharg, the original suit challenged the fact that New Mexico legislature’s repeal of the state’s 1969 anti-abortion law allows legal abortion across the state. “Simply stated, no law, act or statute exists that allows for or legalizes abortion procedures in the state of New Mexico,” the lawsuit stated. Abortion remains legal in the state of New Mexico because the 2021 Legislature repealed the 1969 law that banned abortion, criminalizing it with few exceptions. Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act in February 2021, before the legislature ended its session.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a 2021 bill into law carving out new consumer protections for people with medical debt. The law required hospitals and debt collection agencies to verify patients’ income level before taking them to court or sending a hefty bill. But some hospitals have routinely failed to do that since the Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act took effect in July 2021, according to Nicolas Cordova, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. Among other protections, the new law requires hospitals to verify that a patient’s income status doesn’t fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line before taking them to court or sending their unpaid bill to a collection agency like CBF Services or Kryptonite Credit Servers, two of the most prolific debt collection firms working in New Mexico. “I can tell you anecdotally, we know there are hospitals that are not doing that,” Cordova said.
The leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the case that appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade woke up many on Tuesday to a “shocking” reality which may be imminent. Politico released on Monday a leaked draft document, dated February from the Supreme Court. The document is a majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case the court heard in early December. Because the document is still a draft, there is still opportunity for the court to rule differently in late June or early July, though it appears unlikely with the current makeup of the court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft, which overturns Roe v. Wade and rules in favor of the state of Mississippi in the Dobbs case.
The state’s top elections official and top lawyer issued a warning over an election “audit” taking place in Otero County, telling residents they are under no obligation to participate in the audit or provide any information. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, in a call with media members on Wednesday, referred to the effort as a “vigilante audit” and said “there is nothing that is legitimate about this process in my point of view.”
It came to light after a TikTok video by an Otero County voter received lots of attention when she highlighted a visit from a group called the New Mexico Audit Force.
The effort, which echoes efforts made by conservatives and some far-right politicians throughout the country regarding the 2020 elections, was authorized by the Otero County Commission and outsourced to the New Mexico Audit Force. That group is sending volunteers door-to-door to speak to voters and gather personal information. Attorney General Hector Balderas and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver issued a release to remind voters of their rights and what information is publicly available in the form of voter records. No voter is required to provide information on who they voted for or on how they voted on ballot issues, the two reminded.