We have a feeling that Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, will not be entertaining the idea of voting for Trump this November. From CNN: “Donald Trump has been saying some of the most inflammatory, hateful, discriminatory, racist, filled-with-misogyny comments we’ve ever heard — not just from a candidate for office, but especially a candidate seeking the nomination for president of the United States,” House Democratic campaign chairman Ben Ray Lujan, the first Hispanic to hold the job, told CNN. A former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman noted that Republicans were likely to keep the House thanks to districts being drawn in a friendly way for Republicans in many states. —Our stories
Before we get to the rest on a busy Friday, here’s our stories from today:
ABQ’s top aviation cop placed on leave Jeff wants back on primary ballot HSC takeover another blow to healthcare for New Mexicans (Opinion)
Back to the run down… —Another behavioral health provider leaves.
Earlier this week, the ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee released a report on “snapshots” of the economies in each state. New Mexico’s, well, wasn’t good. On jobs, the report finds that businesses have added just 100 jobs over the year. Since the national low point of private-sector employment in Feb. 2010, New Mexico added 33,400 private sector jobs, or 5.5 percent through Feb.
—Judge keeps candidate on ballot. A judge ruled that Jeremy Tremko will remain on the ballot for the Republican primary in House District 50. Matthew McQueen, the Democratic incumbent from Galisteo, challenged a number of his signatures, including from an individual who signed multiple times; McQueen said none of these should count, while Tremko argued at least one should count. McQueen can still appeal to the Supreme Court. Tremko was represented by a Republican state Representative, Zach Cook of Ruidoso.
—Who’s going to take the Griego case? Judges are recusing themselves from the pending Phil Griego case left and right. Dan Boyd over at the Albuquerque Journal wrote earlier this week that four judges recused themselves from the case. That’s already outdated: A fifth judge also recused himself. The ball is now in the court of Judge Raymond Ortiz; a KOB reporter called Ortiz’s office and they said Ortiz isn’t sure if he’ll take the case.
—Deaths from DWI hit new low. From listening to the rhetoric during this year’s legislative session, you might think that DWI deaths and crashes were up dramatically in recent years. However today, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that deaths from DWI hit a record low. In 2015, 122 deaths were attributed to DWI; that’s a new low since New Mexico started tracking DWI fatalities in 1970. “DWI has been a major problem in our state for a long time.
—The town of Roswell is looking for a flying saucer. Roswell police are looking for, and yes they’re serious, a missing flying saucer. The town is famous for aliens after an incident in 1947 has a lot of alien decorations and alien-themed restaurants. These include, of course, flying saucers, including the one that went missing on Saturday night. Police said, via Facebook, that thieves took a silver saucer that is made of fiberglass and metal, including stainless steel, from the town’s UFO museum overnight this weekend.
—HSD Secretary talks behavioral health shakeup. Here at NM Political Report, we’ve been following the behavioral health shakeup that came after the state Human Services Department decided to cut off Medicaid funding for 15 providers, citing “credible allegations of fraud.”
Since then, several went out of business and the Attorney General exonerated 13 of the groups. While he wasn’t at the helm at the time, legislators on the Legislative Finance Committee still wanted an update on the process from the department’s secretary. HSD Secretary Brent Earnest explained that there was “still some overbilling” with those providers who were cleared and there was an ongoing administrative process to deal with the overbilling. He was less willing to say what that process was, beyond saying it would be “months more than years” before the situations were resolved and that currently OptumHealth is holding the funds.
—White Sands Missile Range is getting a new active-duty mission. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced the news on Wednesday afternoon that the Air Defense Artillery Test Detachment, with 143 soldiers, will be housed at the facility. “At a time when Army installations across the country are facing reductions, adding a new mission to White Sands is a big deal,” Heinrich said. “I am pleased we secured this new mission and I will continue to advocate for a larger active duty presence at WSMR.” —Bill Richardson is back on the North Korea beat.
—Rubio drops out. Susana Martinez took a calculated risk in endorsing Marco Rubio two weeks ago. He was seen as the pragmatic and establishment choice for Republicans in a year dominated by, well Donald Trump. But after getting crushed in his home state of Florida, Rubio dropped out. This isn’t to say it will impact Martinez that much (a LOT of Republicans endorsed Rubio), but it still isn’t a good look.
—Private prison companies can be held liable for assaults by employees, including guards. That is after a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court. At issue is Anthony Townes, a guard for Corrections Corporation of America, who is now in state prison as part of a 16-year sentence for raping four women inmates as well as false imprisonment. For the full opinion, see here. For an explainer from New Mexico Attorney Trace Rabern, see the tweets below.