Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver wins second term

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the incumbent who has been in office since 2016, won her seat easily according to unofficial results as of 10:45 p.m.. Her primary opponent, Republican Audrey Trujillo, trailed by 15 points. Libertarian candidate Mayna Erika Myers received less than five percent of the vote. Toulouse Oliver carried the majority of votes in the state’s most populous counties – Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties but Trujillo carried many rural counties, including Eddy, Chaves, Curry, Lea, Quay and Union counties. But Toulouse Oliver carried some traditionally Democratic rural counties, including Grant and McKinley.

VP Harris visits NM to talk reproductive rights

Vice President Kamala Harris said during an event in New Mexico on Tuesday that the fight around reproductive rights in the United States will affect women all over the world. Harris stopped in Albuquerque to talk with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and University of New Mexico Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Planning Fellowship Director Dr. Eve Espey about protecting reproductive rights. The moderated discussion took place in front of a packed house of about 250 people at the University of New Mexico’s Keller Hall in the Center for the Arts and Arts Museum. Harris said people around the world watch what is happening politically in the U.S. She said former German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaned over during a conversation about Russia and China and asked Harris about what is happening with voting rights in the U.S.

“My fear on this issue is that dictators around the world will say to their people who are fighting for rights, ‘you want to hold out America as the example?’ Look at what they just did; be quiet,’” she said. “I highlight the significance of this moment and the impact, which not only directly impacts the people of our nation but very likely impacts people around the world.”

 Harris highlighted her mother’s career, saying that her mother was one of the very few women of color researching breast cancer in her era.

New Mexico Democrats hold abortion rights rally in Las Cruces

With 23 days before the November election, New Mexico Democrats held a rally with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America national leaders in Las Cruces on Saturday to discuss the importance of abortion rights. Close to 300 people attended the rally at Albert Johnson Park, next to Las Cruces City Hall. Democrats campaigning for office included former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, who is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell for the state’s 2nd Congressional District seat, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is vying for a second term and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is also campaigning for a second term in office. Toulouse Oliver faces Audrey Mendonca-Trujillo, a Republican, and Mayna Myers, a Libertarian. Lujan Grisham is competing with Republican Mark Ronchetti and Libertarian Karen Bedonie.

Poll: Double-digit lead for Lujan Grisham in reelection bid

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 continue to lead in AG, SOS races

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.

Poll: Lujan Grisham widens lead over Ronchetti

A new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for KOB-TV found that incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has a double-digit lead over her Republican opponent, Mark Ronchetti in her reelection campaign. The poll of likely voters found that Lujan Grisham has the support of 48 percent of likely voters, with 36 percent saying they would vote for Ronchetti and 5 percent for Libertarian Karen Bedonie. Another 11 percent would not say or are undecided. The poll found Lujan Grisham had a lead of 59 percent to 26 percent among Hispanic voters, while leading by 18 percentage points among women and 6 percent among men. Men are traditionally more conservative voters.

Poll: Lujan Grisham leads Ronchetti by 7 points, Dems lead other statewide races

A new poll conducted by Research & Polling for the Albuquerque Journal found that incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham leads her closest opponent by 7 points in the upcoming general election. The same poll found that Democrats have larger leads in the other statewide races this fall. The poll found that Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has the support of 47 percent of likely voters, while Republican Mark Ronchetti has the support of 40 percent and Libertarian Karen Bedonie has the support of 5 percent. Another 8 percent were undecided. The Journal said that female voters and Hispanic voters are driving Lujan Grisham’s lead in her attempt for reelection.

State Supreme Court orders Otero County Commission to certify primary election results

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered three county commissioners in southern New Mexico to comply with state law by certifying the county’s primary election results. 

After the three-member Otero County Commission refused to certify election results during a meeting on Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver filed a petition with the state’s high court asking justices to compel the county commission to follow state law and to do their ministerial duty. On Wednesday, the state supreme court granted the writ of mandamus and ordered the commissioners to “comply with the requirements set forth in [state law].”

The commission has until Friday to meet and certify the election or presumably face a contempt of court charge. 

Otero County Commission Chair Vickie Marquardt could not be reached for comment, but Commissioner Couy Griffin told NM Political Report that he plans to “hold the line.”

“What the state is trying to do to us by leveraging us, and taking control, essentially, of our commission board through the courts, I believe, is very unconstitutional and it’s an absolute disgrace.”

Griffin was found guilty earlier this year of illegally entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

State law requires that local governments certify election results within 10 days of an election and then send the results to state election officials for further certification. Until that process is completed, the election results are deemed unofficial and the winners of the primary election are not officially candidates. Holding up the certification process also means that Griffin’s colleague, Commissioner Gerald Matherly, who won his Republican primary race by 32 percentage points, is still not considered a general election candidate.

AG, SOS issue warning over Otero County ‘vigilante audit’

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.

Senate Republicans kill omnibus voting rights bill in final hours of session

The omnibus voting rights bill, SB 144, which would have expanded voting rights to many formerly disenfranchised and given protections to election workers passed the House in the final hours of the legislature but the bill ultimately failed after a filibuster by Senate Republicans . After a nearly 24-hour House debate on various bills, the House turned to the omnibus voting bill SB 144 around 7 a.m. Thursday in the final hours of the Legislature. 

SB 144 began as a two-page bill ensuring the safety of election workers from intimidation. It had broad bipartisan support, receiving a unanimous due pass in the Senate chamber earlier this month. But state House Rep. Daymon Ely, of Corrales, and state Sen. Katy Duhigg, of Albuquerque, both Democrats, amended SB 144 to include measures from two other election bills, SB 6, which cleaned up and modernized language in the election code and SB 8, the Voters’ Rights Provisions bill, which expanded voting rights to many who have historically been disenfranchised and would have made voting easier and more streamlined for many. 

The grafting of the three bills led to complaints from Republicans about “log rolling,” which is combining more than one unrelated bill together and is unconstitutional.  Another complaint, made by state House Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, that the bill, once amended with provisions from SB 6 and SB 8, had not been vetted. Related: House committee passes ‘comprehensive’ voting bill that includes voting rights provisions

Grafting the three bills together was similar in process, Ely said on the House floor Thursday morning, to the omnibus crime bill which the House just sent to the governor by concurring with Senate changes.