2020 Elections: U.S. Senate candidates on environmental issues

This week, we’re running a series of interviews with New Mexico’s federal candidates, each of whom answered questions about issues related to our energy future, water scarcity and climate change. Three candidates are running for the U.S. Senate in a seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Udall announced in March of 2019 that he would not run for reelection.  

The three candidates are Democrat and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, Republican and former TV meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and Libertarian Bob Walsh. Luján has served as U.S. Rep. for New Mexico’s third congressional district since 2009. In 2019, he was voted  Assistant Speaker of the House by the House Democratic caucus. Luján also served on the state’s Public Regulation Commission from 2005-2008 and served as chairman of the commission from 2005 to 2007. You can read our interview with Luján here.

Candidate Q&A: Bob Walsh on environmental issues

This week, we’re running a series of interviews with New Mexico’s federal candidates, each of whom answered questions about issues related to our energy future, water scarcity and climate change. 

The following interview is with Libertarian Bob Walsh, who is running for the U.S. Senate in a seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Udall announced in March of 2019 that he would not run for reelection. 

Walsh is a retired scientist with degrees in physics, mathematics and biology. Walsh was a legislative assistant to former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, and was an Assistant Democratic Party Ward Coordinator in 2005-2006. 

Walsh is running against former TV meteorologist and political newcomer Mark Ronchetti, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Ronchetti did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. You can read our Q&A with Luján here. 

NM Political Report (NMPR): What energy future do you see for New Mexico and the United States?

Candidate Q&A: Ben Ray Luján on environmental issues

This week, we’re running a series of interviews with New Mexico’s federal candidates, each of whom answered questions about issues related to our energy future, water scarcity and climate change. 

The following interview is with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for the U.S. Senate in a seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Udall announced in March of 2019 that he would not run for reelection.  

Luján, a Democrat, has served as U.S. Rep. for New Mexico’s third congressional district since 2009. In 2019, he was voted  Assistant Speaker of the House by the House Democratic caucus. 

Luján also served on the state’s Public Regulation Commission from 2005-2008 and served as chairman of the commission from 2005 to 2007. 

Luján is running against former TV meteorologist and political newcomer Mark Ronchetti, a Republican, and Bob Walsh, a Libertarian. Ronchetti did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. You can read our Q&A with Walsh here. 

NM Political Report (NMPR): What energy future do you see for New Mexico and the United States?

Luján: ‘I’m running to be your next United States senator’

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running for Senate. The six-term congressman from northern New Mexico announced his candidacy for the open U.S. Senate seat in a video from his family farm in Nambé on Monday morning. “I’m running to be your next United States senator,” Luján said. “I’ve been humbled by all of the outreach telling me to run and it’s been an honor to serve you in the House, where we’ve accomplished a lot together.”

After listing some of his accomplishments, including that he “led the effort to win back the House,” the Democrat turned his attention towards the Senate. “To move forward, we’ve got to fix the Senate, where Mitch McConnell stands in the way of progress,” he said.

NMMI records detail numerous construction delays in Mick Rich project

Mick Rich’s slogan for his U.S. Senate campaign is “Send a hard hat to Washington.” Like many candidates, Rich promotes his day job and business skills to show he’s the best choice to represent New Mexicans in the U.S. Senate. His background in major construction projects and his support for the military and national laboratories, Rich has said, qualifies him to represent the state. But records from the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) show friction between Rich’s contracting company and school officials over a project that should have been finished last year, but still has pending work to be done. When NM Political Report first asked about the contentious emails and letters, a school official downplayed the delayed project. Rich, however, blamed poor planning from the project’s architect, engineer and school officials for the delay.

On the (hiking) trail with Heinrich

Last weekend, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and his wife Julie pulled up to an Albuquerque trailhead and were greeted by a group of eager supporters with hiking poles and hydration packs at the ready. Almost immediately, Heinrich became an impromptu trail guide, educating his constituents on the different native plants along the trail and which animals use them as food sources. At least twice, unsuspecting hikers recognized the affable sportsman who has worked in Washington, D.C. since 2009. One family hiking towards the top of the trail passed the Heinrich entourage on its way back to the trail head. As the two groups converged, one woman looked at Heinrich and asked, “Is it really you?

McCain votes no, derails ‘skinny repeal’ on marathon session

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who interrupted brain cancer treatment to return to Capitol Hill and advance the health law repeal efforts, cast the dramatic and decisive “no” vote in the early morning hours that upended the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Senate struggled late into the night to craft and then vote on a “skinny repeal” of the health law, but came up empty as the bill was defeated in a 51-49 vote that prompted gasps in the chamber. McCain’s vote was unexpected and ends — for now — the Republican Party’s effort to kill Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) cast the two other Republican “no” votes in a cliffhanger drama that ended just before 2:00 a.m. Friday.

Richardson: GOP friends worried Trump will cost them the Senate

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Republicans have told him Donald Trump’s spot as the GOP presidential nominee will let Democrats take back control of the U.S. Senate. Richardson made the comments while appearing on CNBC Friday. Richardson said his Republican friends “they’re worried now about losing the Senate.”

He said they feel the “House is OK probably going to be OK, lose some seats, but the Senate is in play.”

He mentioned Illinois and Nevada as important states; in Illinois, incumbent Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, is facing a tough reelection campaign. In Nevada, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid opted not to run and Republicans nominated U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, considered their top recruit in the state. Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, a Republican, said there was too much time between now and the elections to make any predictions.

Marijuana

NM health provider at center of push to change federal pot policy

A New Mexico health provider and cannabis advocate is at the forefront of the possible massive change to how marijuana is treated in the United States. Bryan Krumm, a nurse practitioner and director of Harmony Psychiatric, filed a petition in 2009 to have cannabis taken off Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Substances in Schedule I are considered to be the most dangerous, have no medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Krumm’s is one of three pending petitions. Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent a letter to the U.S. Senate indicating a decision on marijuana will be made sometime this summer.

Udall, Heinrich: Senate should vote on Obama’s Scalia replacement

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed condolences over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, while saying that President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement. Scalia died in Texas on Saturday, and the focus almost immediately turned to who would be the conservative justice’s replacement. Many conservatives, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said that Obama should not nominate a replacement because he is nearing the end of his second term. Obama will be in office until Jan. 20, 2017, more than 11 months from now.