Dem Candidates On Attack Ahead Of Primary, Firefighters Clear Containment Lines Near Ute Park Fire

Jun 5, 2018

Democrats On Attack Ahead Of New Mexico Governor PrimaryAssociated Press

Candidates are pushing toward the finish line in wide-open primary races for New Mexico governor and two congressional seats.

The three-way Democratic primary for governor devolved into attacks about private business dealings and trustworthiness in the days before Tuesday's election. The state's lagging economy, dissatisfaction with public education and concerns about urban crime took center stage in public forums and political advertising.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is competing against state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and former media executive Jeff Apodaca, the son of a former governor.

The winner will face the sole Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, in the November general election.

A Democratic governor likely would shut Republicans out of redistricting decisions in 2021 and consolidate Democrats' control over state government for a decade to come.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Absentee ballots are due by 7 p.m.

Firefighters Clear Containment Lines Around New Mexico Fire- Associated Press

Firefighters anticipating a return to dangerous weather conditions are clearing containment lines around the northern New Mexico wildfire that has burned 57 square miles of forest and threatened two rural communities.

Cimarron residents were allowed to return home Monday but smaller Ute Park on the other side of the fire remains evacuated.

Sunday a storm slowed the fire's growth but the fire's incident management team says fire activity is expected to increase this week due to a high-pressure system building from the south.

Crews have containment lines around 25 percent of the fire's perimeter. Nearly 600 firefighters and other personnel are assigned to the fire.

The fire started Thursday, burning 14 outbuildings on the Philmont Scout Ranch. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

New Mexico To Select Hopefuls For Open Congressional SeatsAssociated Press

New Mexico voters will select candidates Tuesday for two open congressional seats, which could help set the stage for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Voters in the state's central and southern districts will decide which Democrats and Republicans will win their parties' nominations.

The seats are open because both Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce are running for governor.

Former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, former state Democratic Party chairwoman Debra Haaland, former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara and business consultant Paul Moya are seeking the Democratic nomination for the Albuquerque-based seat.

Former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman, state Rep. Yvette Herrell and former Trump appointee Gavin Clarkson are seeking the GOP nod for southern New Mexico's open seat.

Water attorney Xochitl Torres Small and U.S. Coast Guard veteran Madeline Hildebrandt are vying for the Democratic nod.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Absentee ballots are due by 7 p.m.

Nearly 100,000 Cast Early Votes In New MexicoAssociated Press

New Mexico election officials are reporting robust turnout in early voting and through absentee ballots ahead of the state's primary election.

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office reported that 97,917 people cast primary ballots during the early voting period ahead of Tuesday's primary. Early voting ended Saturday evening, and absentee voting continues until Tuesday at 7 p.m.

About 202,000 people in all voted in the 2014 primary elections. Two-thirds of votes in the November 2016 presidential election were cast by absentee ballot or early voting.

New Mexico voters are headed to the polls Tuesday to choose from three Democratic candidates for governor. Two congressional seats are wide open, as voting also decides who advances in statewide races for lieutenant governor, state auditor and public land commissioner.

Some New Mexico Residents Allowed To Return HomeAssociated Press

Some residents are returning to their homes, but evacuation orders in other areas remain as crews try to get a handle on a wildfire burning in northeastern New Mexico.

Authorities announced Monday that residents of Cimarron were being allowed to return to the village in four separate groups to minimize traffic.

The threat to Cimarron has been reduced but authorities say there are still some concerns as the fire is expected to burn for some time. The Ute Park area is still evacuated.

Forecasters expect the winds will change course and that could mean smoky conditions in the area. There's an air quality station in Cimarron that will monitor for potential hazards.

About 500 firefighters and support crew are assigned to the Ute Park Fire. It has charred more than 56 square miles being sparked last Thursday. The cause is under investigation.

Navajo Nation Gets Federal Funds For River RecoveryAssociated Press

The Navajo Nation has been awarded a $1.1 million contract as part of a multi-agency effort to help recover endangered fish in the San Juan River Basin.

The U.S. Interior Department announced the contract Monday. The funds are being awarded through the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Navajo Dam and Reservoir on the San Juan River in Colorado and New Mexico.

The focus will be the Colorado pike minnow and razorback sucker.

Under the contract, the Navajo Nation's assistance will include operating fish passages and raising the endangered fish in ponds for later release into the river.

Other partners in the San Juan project include the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Southern Ute Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the states of Colorado and New Mexico.

NMSU Scientists Take Inventory Of Desert MonumentAssociated Press

Scientists and geographers from New Mexico State University are helping to locate and record natural and cultural resources on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

The university says the work is funded through a five-year grant from the Bureau of Land Management.

The information will be used to better manage resources across the monument and to create a database accessible to the public.

The geologists on the team are interested in the area's volcanic formations. They say the Potrillo volcanic field was last active between about 1 million and 14,000 years ago.

The scientists say the monument's volcanic history also contributes to the diversity of the soil and the plants being studied.

Archaeologists will be studying cave sites and other evidence of past human habitation in the area.

New Mexico Vote In Tight Races For 2 Congressional Seats- Associated Press

New Mexico voters will narrow the field Tuesday in two competitive congressional races, including one in a district along the Mexico border involving a GOP-held seat that Democrats have long targeted.

The state's other competitive congressional contest is in the central district that encompasses Albuquerque.

The seats are open because Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, are stepping down to run for governor.

Statewide voters were turning out in robust numbers to decide who will advance to the November election as Democrats and Republicans vie for control of the U.S. House.

In-person and absentee voting was running ahead of turnout for the 2014 mid-term primary, the New Mexico secretary of state's office reported.

Justice Department Assigns 3 New Prosecutors To New MexicoAssociated Press

The U.S. Justice Department says it is assigning three prosecutors to New Mexico under a plan to increase staffing in what it considers priority areas.

Federal authorities said in a statement Monday that two of the prosecutors will focus on violent crime and one will focus on civil cases. U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, who oversees prosecutions in New Mexico, says the prosecutor for violent crime will help address crime in New Mexico, including its tribal communities.

The announcement comes a month after the Justice Department said it was allocating six prosecutors to New Mexico for cases involving on immigration enforcement.

State Police Have Video Of Killings Of 3 People Near DixonAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say they have recovered video of the killings of three people in northern New Mexico last week.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a digital video recording system was set up with security cameras inside the house where the fatal shootings occurred.

State Police have identified the three victims as 36-year-old Abraham Martinez of Dixon, 42-year-old April Browne of Taos and 27-year-old Kierin Guillemin of Vadito.

The bodies were found Wednesday night in a home near Dixon.

State Police have not commented on a possible motive for the killings.

Authorities have arrested two suspects — 34-year-old John Powell of Taos and 33-year-old Roger Gage of Arroyo Hondo.

They're jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

American Airlines Plane Damaged By Hail Over New MexicoAssociated Press

An American Airlines plane made an emergency landing after hail damaged the windshield and caused some passengers to throw up.

One of the pilots said they could barely see through the windshield.

The airline says no injuries were reported after the Sunday night flight from San Antonio, Texas, to Phoenix ran into bad weather over New Mexico and turned south to land in El Paso, Texas. There were 130 passengers and five crew members on board. Another plane finished the trip to Phoenix a few hours later.

An airline spokesman said Monday that the plane was awaiting repairs for damage to the nose, windshield panels and a cockpit side window. He said the engines, including the fan blades, were not damaged.

Passenger Jesus Esparza told KENS-TV in San Antonio he saw lightning and hail and the plane dropped "like a rollercoaster." He gave a sickness bag to another passenger who had already used one.

GOP Congressional Hopeful Sues New Mexico State Over FiringAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A former Trump administration appointee running for Congress is suing New Mexico State University alleging wrongful termination and discrimination.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Gavin Clarkson, a candidate running in the Republican primary for southern New Mexico's open congressional seat, filed a lawsuit last week after the school canceled his leave of absence and fired him in late April.

Clarkson alleges racial and religious discrimination because he is a conservative pro-life Christian and a member of the Choctaw tribe.

A New Mexico State spokeswoman said the university does not comment on pending litigation.

Clarkson was ordered back to his New Mexico State University business professor job in April months after resigning from a Bureau of Indian Affairs position.

The Republican said he requested a leave of absence until January 2020.

Jal OKs Resolution Against Interim Nuclear Storage PlanHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Another New Mexico community has voted to oppose bringing interim high-level nuclear waste storage in southeastern New Mexico.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports Jal City Council voted last week not to support a plan to temporarily store tons of spent fuel from U.S. commercial nuclear reactors in and around Lea County.

Holtec International has applied for a 40-year license with Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store thousands of metric tons of nuclear waste at the site.

Opponents of the project expressed concern about the safety of transporting the fuel across the country as well as the project's effects on the environment.

Albuquerque City Council also voted last week to oppose the plan.