New Mexico political roundup

October 2, 2018

Days until the election: 35

Ex-president weighs in: Barack Obama on Monday endorsed Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, as part of his “second wave” of midterm election endorsements.

“The last eight years have left New Mexicans waiting for a leader like Michelle, a leader who can restore hope and put opportunity back within reach,” the former president was quoted as saying in a news release.

Nationwide, Obama endorsed 180 Democratic candidates Monday. In New Mexico, he also endorsed Lujan Grisham’s lieutenant governor running mate, state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City.

Obama also gave nods to:

• Day Hochman-Vigil, a lawyer and the Democratic nominee for an open Northeast Heights Albuquerque statehouse seat. Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter is the Republican candidate in the race in House District 15.

• Abbas Akhil, an engineer and the Democratic challenger to state Rep. Jim Dines for an east side Albuquerque seat in District 20.

• Melanie Stansbury, the Democratic challenger of another Albuquerque-area Republican statehouse incumbent, Rep. Jimmie Hall, in District 28.

• Karen Bash, the Democrat trying to unseat state Rep. Monica Youngblood, the tough-on-crime Republican lawmaker who was recently convicted of aggravated drunken driving.

Lukewarm: Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial nominee Steve Pearce has not exactly run toward Obama’s successor, Republican President Donald Trump.

Pearce campaigned with and supported Trump during his 2016 campaign, but at a televised debate last month, Pearce, who has sought to present a moderate image, struck an indifferent note when asked about Trump.

“They’re simply men,” Pearce said, referring to Trump and recent past presidents. “They’re simply people who are tasked to do a job. When they’re right, I’ll support ’em. When they’re wrong, I’ll contend with them, usually not very publicly.”

Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico and across the country is low. A recent Albuquerque Journal poll showed only 38 percent of New Mexicans approved of Trump’s job performance. Forty-one percent of Americans surveyed recently had a favorable opinion of Trump’s job performance, according to the FiveThirtyEight website.

In his own words: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich has found an unlikely star for a new online video: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

A brief “greatest hits” reel circulated by the GOP campaign features Johnson describing some of President Donald Trump’s comments on immigration as “racist” and calling Trump “a pussy.”

Asked in one segment if Trump represents anything legitimate in the Republican Party, Johnson replies Trump is “appealing to a segment I’ll just label racist, and it exists and it’s out there and I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

Why is Rich highlighting what has become a frequent criticism of the president among Democrats, many independents and even some Libertarian-leaning Republicans?

The video may be a way of reminding Republican voters that Johnson is no longer one of their own. He was under the GOP banner during his two terms as governor in the 1990s and for years after. But Johnson has become perhaps the country’s most prominent standard bearer for the Libertarian Party.

In a three-way race, Rich needs Johnson to peel fewer voters from him while luring more from incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich. But polling has found Johnson performing relatively well among Republicans.

The New Mexican