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Political roundup, Aug. 31, 2018

September 1, 2018

Days to the election: 67

About that poll: A poll commissioned by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign shows her with a more comfortable cushion in the New Mexico gubernatorial contest than poll numbers released earlier this month.

Lujan Grisham leads U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, her Republican opponent, 52 percent to 44 percent, with only four percent undecided, according to the survey of 600 likely voters between Aug. 18 and Aug. 22 by Washington, D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. The statistical margin of error wasn’t immediately available.

A public poll released in mid-August showed a narrower gap: Lujan Grisham led by only 2 points, within that poll’s 4.6-point margin of error. Republicans trumpeted that result, conducted by respected pollster Emerson College, while Lujan Grisham’s camp questioned the methodology.

Lujan Grisham, the Democratic congresswoman from Albuquerque, is “well positioned” to take the Governor’s Office, says a memo by compilers of the latest numbers.

The pollsters also said they found that President Donald Trump and Gov. Susana Martinez are “under water” with the state’s voters — Trump viewed favorably by only 37 percent and the two-term Republican governor by only 31 percent.

A Pearce spokesman, Kevin Sheridan, was skeptical of the new poll and lamented attacks from a Democratic-aligned political action committee and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s decision this week to reinstate straight-ticket voting — a move widely criticized by state Republicans as potentially tilting the scales in favor of Democrats.

“Now the secretary of state is corruptly changing the election rules. Why? Because this is a two point race and this invented poll is … designed to calm the panic,” he said.

Keeping score: There are plenty of political scorecards out there for rating politicians on everything from conservation to abortion.

A new group made up mostly of business leaders is keeping score of how legislators are voting on a range of bills involving education, crime and quality of life.

Viante New Mexico says it will score legislators’ attendance as well as votes and sponsorships on 15 bills.

Though founded by Dale Armstrong, the owner of TLC Plumbing and husband of Republican Rep. Gail Armstrong, the organization says it is nonpartisan.

In announcing the group, Dale Armstrong said he was frustrated with party politics after visiting the 2017 legislative session and considered moving to Texas or Arizona.

“I quickly remembered my love of the state and those I have met along the way, and instead decided to invest in New Mexico to make it the best it can be,” he said in a statement. “My goal is to bring New Mexico from the bottom of national lists to the top.”

The data it has culled on legislators (and there is a lot) will live behind a paywall available to members who subscribe at viantenm.org.

And for the record, the word viante is Latin for “restore.”

Sir, resign, sir: Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce added his voice to the chorus of outrage directed at the Taos district attorney, whose office was dealt an embarrassing blow this week when prosecutors missed a key deadline in the cases against five adults arrested at a compound near Amalia, resulting in cases being dismissed and the release of three of the five child-abuse suspects.

On Twitter, Pearce called for 8th Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos to resign.

“If we are going to fix New Mexico’s crime problem, public officials must do their jobs. The Taos District Attorney failed to do so,” Pearce wrote. “… There must be accountability when officials fail the public.”

Gallegos was one of 50 current and former state and local law enforcement officials to endorse the public safety plan of Pearce’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, as touted in a Lujan Grisham press release earlier this month.

Lujan Grisham also issued a statement decrying the missed deadline for preliminary hearings, calling it a “travesty.”

“What happened today in Taos is inexcusable,” Lujan Grisham wrote late Thursday night. “It should never have happened and I am appalled at the failure to hold these defendants in detention for their alleged actions. Prosecutors must work diligently to correct this outrage and their failure to do their jobs. … As governor, it will be my priority to overhaul and fix this [judicial] system.”

Gallegos issued a statement of his own on Facebook, saying his office would “continue to pursue prosecution of the cases.”

The three individuals who were released were each charged with 11 counts of child abuse stemming from the squalor at their makeshift shelter near the state’s border with Colorado. The 11 children who had been living on the compound were taken into protective custody; the remains of one boy were found on site.

— The New Mexican

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