The Bernalillo County Commission appointed social justice advocate and lawyer Pamelya Herndon to the state House to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, on Tuesday. The Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 4 to 0 in favor of Herndon with one, Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, absent. Herndon vied for the job against seven other candidates but one, William Boughan-Trammell, ended his campaign for the seat before the commission meeting began. Herndon, who is a lawyer trained in tax law and has experience in both government and the nonprofit sector, touted her professional background and years of service for various social justice causes. She said she has worked for gender pay equity, helped individuals enroll in the New Mexico Health Exchange and to take the U.S. Census.
Idalia Lechuga-Tena announced on Friday she is seeking appointment to House District 28 amidst a growing list of women interested in the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury. Bernalillo County Commissioners meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a special meeting to decide who will replace Stansbury. Bernalillo County Commissioners appointed Lechuga-Tena in 2015 to represent House District 21. At that time, she replaced state Sen. Mimi Stewart. But Lechuga-Tena moved into HD 21 just days before her appointment in 2015, though she owned another home in another district.
In a debate characterized by a negative tone not unlike the recent showdowns between presidential candidates, both candidates for New Mexico Secretary of State laid out their visions for the office. Democratic candidate and current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver started by invoking the only reason the office is up for grabs this year in the first place. “We had a secretary of state who violated the very laws and ethics that she was charged with upholding,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m running to restore integrity, transparency and trust in the Secretary of State’s office.”
Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican who beat Toulouse Oliver in the election for the office two years ago, last year pleaded guilty to using her campaign funds to fuel a gambling habit. Duran, a Republican, resigned from office, spent 30 days in jail and is currently on five years of probation.
A House committee voted Saturday night to reject a bill that would delay a corporate tax cut for two years. The corporate tax delay, which narrowly passed the Senate the night before as part of a wider budget package, would have saved nearly $13 million in the current fiscal year and more in the next fiscal year according to analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee. The Taxation and Revenue Department, part of Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, estimated it would save much less, saying it would be $5 million in the current fiscal year and again less than the LFC predicted in the next. “We are not asking for a tax increase,” Rep. Bill McCamley, the Las Cruces Democrat who carried the bill on the House side, said. “We are merely asking that we delay this tax.
New Mexico’s House District 21 will have a new Representative next January after high school teacher Debbie Sariñana won the primary election on Tuesday night. Sariñana won the race, by about five percentage points, against incumbent Idalia Lechuga-Tena and a third candidate, Amanda KinKaid in the Democratic primary. Sariñana told NM Political Report that she was excited about the win and said she credited her win to a good group of campaign staff. “It was a tough race,” Sariñana said. “We worked hard, we had great volunteers.”
Sariñana was aided by her fellow teachers in the race, including with union members canvassing for her and helping to get out the vote.
While Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico began casting ballots weeks ago with early and absentee voting, today is election day where tens of thousands more are expected to cast their ballots. While much of the attention will be focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duking it out in the presidential primary, there will be a number of down-ballot races with big implications going forward. We took a look at the thirteen races you need to watch tonight when polls close at 7:00 p.m.
Senate District 17
Democratic incumbent Sen. Mimi Stewart’s runs to retain the senate seat in SD17. In 2014, the Bernalillo County Commission appointed her to fill the vacancy left by Tim Keller when he became State Auditor. Former State Senator Shannon Robinson, who held the SD17 spot for 20 years before losing to Keller in 2008, will face Stewart and try to reclaim his old Senate seat.
A conservation group that makes endorsements each election cycle says one candidate is claiming an endorsement she did not receive. Conservation Voters New Mexico and the related Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund did not make an endorsement in the Democratic primary in House District 21—however, the group did deem two candidates “conservation qualified.” When the group finds two candidates are qualified in a certain race, it does not endorse. This is new, an email from CVNM’s Liliana Castillo said. “Historically, CVNM has simply not endorsed in those races.
One of Albuquerque’s most diverse legislative districts has seen three different representatives in the past two years. Now voters in House District 21 have three choices in the upcoming Democratic primary. No Republicans are running in the race, which means the winner of the June primary will almost certainly be the next representative from the district. Note: This piece also appeared in the May 18 edition of the ABQ Free Press. The game of musical chairs began when Tim Keller, then a state Senator, ran for State Auditor.
A look into one New Mexico House race shows that the candidates updated their voter registration days before an appointment to the state House late last year. All three candidates currently running for state House District 21 previously applied to be appointed in the district. And all three changed their voter registration information days before Bernalillo County commissioners voted on the appointment. The appointment was necessary after Stephanie Maez resigned. All three candidates are Democrats; there are no Republican candidates seeking the position.
An Albuquerque teacher officially announced she will run for a House seat she lost out on earlier this year. After applying to fill the District 21 spot last month, Democrat Debbie Sariñana announced on Thursday that she would run for the spot that has seen two vacancies in the past year. Sariñana told NM Political Report she chose to announce her candidacy now because primary elections are next June and candidates cannot raise money during the legislative session that starts next month. Sariñana said she grew up in the district and moved back after finishing her college degree. She said working as a teacher in the area has shown her how many people are struggling with things like jobs and healthcare.