Republicans try to cast doubt on NM presidential results after Biden won by 11 points

Less than a week before New Mexico certifies its election results, President Donald Trump’s political team said there are allegations of voter fraud in the state, even as the state’s post-election process to verify and audit results moved forward. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made the allegations as part of a rambling press conference on Thursday that contradicted some arguments the Trump campaign has made in courts. The Trump campaign has consistently lost their cases as they attempt to overturn election results in states where the Republican lost, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. “And the state that we’re looking at that would surprise you, we’re seeing very, very significant amount of fraud allegations in the state of New Mexico,” Giuliani claimed. A spokesman for the Secretary of State said elections in New Mexico were secure.

Elections Director: GOP challenger in Doña Ana County told to ‘push the envelope’ by Republican Party

The state elections director is threatening potential legal consequences to the Republican Party of New Mexico after a Republican election challenger said the party told him to “push the envelope” on what was legal inside the absentee precinct board. The incident allegedly began Friday when two Republican election challengers allegedly grabbed the Doña Ana County Bureau of Election Director, began filming him and did not comply with election board members’ requests to stop. In a statement Friday evening, the state Republican Party denied that any assault occurred and said surveillance video showed this. The challengers’ behavior is illegal, according to a letter Mandy Vigil, state elections director, sent to the Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce. The election board came to a full stop of ballot tabulations, according to the letter.

State district court judge dismisses NM GOP suit against Secretary of State, two county clerks

A Santa Fe state district court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party of New Mexico against the New Mexico Secretary of State and two county clerks on Thursday. 

The suit alleged that both the Taos and Guadalupe County clerks’ offices were not adequately monitoring absentee ballot drop boxes and requested that a judge issue a temporary restraining order, followed by a permanent injunction to “either immediately discontinue the use of drop boxes or ensure that they are made inaccessible to the public during non-polling hours and kept continuously, directly monitored by at least two bipartisan election officials during polling hours.”

Oil and gas support for Torres Small exposes internal divisions

Dressed in denim on a windy day in front of an oil and gas rig, Xochitl Torres Small looks into the camera and says, “Washington doesn’t get us,” then tells viewers she fought to get workers the coronavirus relief they deserve. 

The ad is just one of many in which Democrat Torres Small is positioning herself as an ally of oil and gas this election year as she strives to win a second term in New Mexico’s southern congressional district, one of just 26 of 435 House races across the nation declared a tossup by the respectedCook Political Report. It’s New Mexico’s most competitive high-profile contest. 

Two years after Torres Small beat former Republican state lawmaker Yvette Herrell by fewer than 4,000 votes out of nearly 200,000 cast, the two women are facing off again in 2020, and Torres Small is making sure to stress her oil and gas bona fidesOil and gas money powers the economy in the 2nd Congressional District and generations of families have come up through the oil patch in a solidly Republican swath of counties in southeast New Mexico. 

Xochitl Torres Small 2020 social media ad claiming her support for oil and gas workers. The first-term Democrat insists she would not vote to ban fracking, a drilling method that has greatly expanded U.S. fossil fuel production and flooded New Mexico with revenue before the pandemic crippled the state economy. Advocates who want to ban the procedure, which injects chemical laden water at high pressure into underground rock formations, say fracking threatens human health in addition to increasing greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels. But industry professionals and their supporters insist it can be done safely and responsibly. 

Torres Small also took to Twitter last week to call out her party’s presidential nominee, tweeting it was wrong to “demonize” one industry in the fight against climate change after Joe Biden said he’d work to transition to an economy based on renewable energy and away from the current oil economy. 

Her efforts to trumpet her support of oil and gas come at a time when the industry itself is in turmoil and internal tensions between larger companies and their smaller New Mexico-based counterparts are bursting into the open, particularly over how to talk about Torres Small and her record. 

Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, whose board of directors is dominated by out-of-state oil producers, told the Associated Press in August that Torres Small has been a “strong advocate for our state’s energy interests.”  

Flynn’s comment ignited a mini-firestorm among Republican loyalists. 

New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce, a former congressman in the southern district who made a fortune selling his oil field services company, condemned Flynn’s statement.

NM GOP files two legal actions a week before election, state Supreme Court rejects one

A week before Election Day and days before the end of early in-person voting, the Republican Party of New Mexico filed two different legal actions against the New Mexico Secretary of State and two separate county clerk’s offices, regarding poll watching and ballot drop-boxes. 

On Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court asking for an emergency hearing for clarification on what personal identifiers poll watchers are allowed to review, compared to county clerk employees. That petition was denied by the high court Tuesday afternoon. 

And on Tuesday morning, the state’s Republican Party filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and the Taos and Guadalupe County Clerks’ offices, claiming that absentee ballot dropboxes in those two counties are not being monitored according to state election law.    

The two legal challenges are the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by the Republican Party across the U.S., many involving absentee voting. Absentee Ballot clarification denied

The petition filed with the New Mexico Supreme Court sought clarification from the high court and to challenge practices the state GOP said some counties were taking part in. 

The petition alleges that at least some county clerks’ offices were not allowing volunteer poll watchers to adequately verify voter identifiers, in this case the voters’ last four digits of their respective Social Security number and their signatures. 

According to the petition, volunteer poll watchers were only being allowed to verify ballots that were missing those two personal identifiers and not verify those identifiers “against a database for accuracy.” 

Without naming them, the petition cites two “large counties” that initially allowed poll challengers to take part in the initial identification verification, but recently stopped “presumably in response to [Toulouse Oliver’s] directives.”

“In order to give effect to all these provisions without creating conflicts or nullities, presiding and election judges and challengers must be permitted to compare ballots with a roster containing the correct SSN digits, and they must be allowed to reject ballots and interpose challenges on the basis of incorrect voter identification information — not merely the complete absence of any numbers in the appropriate field,” the petition argued. The petition argued that the issue is “compounded” partially because of a new wave of younger poll workers, which was encouraged by Gov. Lujan Grisham and other elected officials in order to protect older poll workers who might be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. 

After the petition was filed, New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce released a statement hinting that county clerks who have not been allowing poll challengers to cross check Social Security numbers may be hiding something. 

“County Clerks are elected by the people to work for the people – and now some are working in the shadows, denying the public access to ensuring we have an honest election,” Pearce said in a statement. 

On Tuesday afternoon the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an order denying the Republican Party’s petition, with three of the five justices concurring, including the lone Republican justice Judith Nakamura. The denial did not offer any explanation for denying the petition.

Reactions from New Mexico officials to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. She was 87. The vacancy her seat creates will now give Republicans the opportunity to try to place another conservative justice to the bench. President Donald Trump, reacting to two Supreme Court decisions in June that he didn’t like, tweeted that he would have a new list of conservatives to appoint to the bench by September 1. Within just a few hours of the announcement of Ginsburg’s death, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not wait to bring to a vote for a Trump appointee this election year, according to multiple media sources.

NM Democrats praise Biden’s choice of Harris for running mate

While presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did not choose New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as his running mate, he followed through on his promise to select a woman as his running mate when he chose California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on Tuesday. Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant father and an Indian immigrant mother, is the first woman of color as a running mate for a major political party. Democratic politicians in New Mexico, including Lujan Grisham, praised Biden’s choice. “It’s time to rebuild our country better than ever before. It’s time to take back the White House.

Trump trial balloon of moving Election Day lands with a thud

Democrats in New Mexico, including the Secretary of State, rejected President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the upcoming federal elections be delayed. Trump floated the unlikely idea on Twitter Thursday morning, writing, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

After pushback, including from Republican leaders who said the idea of moving Election Day back was a non-starter, Trump tweeted that he was glad he got the media to talk about mail-in voting. Election Day is set by federal law and leaders in the U.S. House and Senate, including Republicans, rejected the idea.

Secretary of state pushes for temporary automatic mail election

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is advocating for legislation during this week’s special session that would extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots in the November general election and allow county clerks to automatically send ballots to all registered voters prior to Election Day, her office said. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toulouse Oliver and a couple of dozen county clerks in the state had pushed for a mail-only primary election to protect poll workers and voters from risks of contracting the viral illness. The state Supreme Court rejected the clerks’ request, however, saying the Legislature would have to approve a change in law to allow mass distribution of ballots by mail to voters who haven’t requested one. Spokesman Alex Curtas said Friday the secretary of state still supports an emergency provision allowing ballots to be sent to voters without an application. She also backs other proposals that could streamline the general election, he added.

NM Republicans push Lujan Grisham to relax restrictions for businesses

Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce on Monday called for a “healthy dose of common sense and uncommon courage” from the governor’s office in keeping the state’s economy afloat while combating the spread of COVID-19. 

The Democratic Speaker of the House and governor, meanwhile, said it was not in the best interest of public safety to ease restrictions on businesses. “Somebody has got to speak up for the small business people of the country,” Pearce said during an online press briefing. 

Pearce was joined by Republican leaders as well as a handful of small business owners from around the state. All who spoke, argued that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s statewide public health emergency order is hurting small businesses, while allowing “big box” stores to remain open. 

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
/* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Subscribe to our daily New Mexico COVID-19 recap

New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend said the state’s economy is facing an emergency of its own. 

“We have two epidemics in New Mexico: the COVID-19 and the financial crisis,” Townsend said. 

Small business owners from around the state joined the online meeting and shared their frustration with the governor’s order to close down all businesses that are not deemed essential. 

Louie Sanchez, the owner of Calibers shooting range in Albuquerque who recently ended his campaign for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, said he is going to reopen his business despite the state’s order.