Tuesday News Roundup: NM Democrats To Pick Gubernatorial Nominee

Jun 3, 2014

New Mexico Democrats To Pick Gubernatorial NomineeThe Associated Press

New Mexico Democrats choose among five candidates for governor in a primary election to decide who will challenge Republican incumbent Susana Martinez, a rising star in GOP circles as the nation's first Hispanic female governor.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Also on the ballot are other statewide, legislative and local office races. Republicans have a two-way contest to pick their U.S. Senate nominee to face Democratic incumbent Tom Udall in the November general election.

Seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination are Attorney General Gary King, Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber, former government administrator Lawrence Rael and state Sens. Howie Morales and Linda Lopez.

Martinez was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Only Democrats and Republicans are eligible to vote in New Mexico's closed primary election system.

Voters To Decide 18 Contested Legislative RacesThe Associated Press

Voters in New Mexico's primary election set the stage for a political struggle later this year over whether Republicans can win control of the state House for the first time in decades.

There are 18 contested House races on Tuesday's primary ballot, including seven with incumbent lawmakers — five Democrats and two Republicans.

All 70 House seats are up for election this year, but 25 incumbents are unopposed.

Democrats hold a 37-33 advantage in the House, but Republicans are trying to pick up enough seats in the November general election to claim their first majority in 60 years.

Republicans hope their candidates will receive a boost this fall by having popular Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on the ballot to potentially increase turnout among GOP-leaning voters.


2 Dems Eye Nomination In Heated Treasurer Race - The Associated Press

A nasty primary race for treasurer between two Democrats is coming to a close.

Voters will decide Tuesday on the treasurer nomination between former Democratic state party chairman John Wertheim and former state Sen. Tim Eichenberg.

Wertheim has attacked Eichenberg in ads for discriminating against Latinos, women and gays with votes in the Senate and as Bernalillo County treasurer.

Eichenberg called those attacks a "smear" and said his opponent doesn't have the experience and qualifications for the state treasurer position.

The back and forth prompted current State Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman to blast the campaign ad, without naming Wertheim, for using "character assassination" and "unacceptable and despicable" attacks.

Bregman previously has served as Eichenberg's attorney.

The winner in Tuesday's primary will face Republican Rick Lopez in November.

Carbon Standards For Reservation Plants DelayedThe Associated Press

Two of the Southwest's largest coal-fired power plants straddle the San Juan River in New Mexico, one within clear view of the other.

But one of them didn't factor into the Obama administration's plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the nation because it is on an American Indian reservation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will delay emission standards for four power plants on reservations to talk further with the tribes and give them an opportunity to create their own cleanup plans. If they decline, the federal government will craft plans for them.

The two power plants on the Navajo Nation are among the country's top emitters of carbon dioxide. The other two generating stations are in northeastern Utah and western Arizona.

Group Stages Sit-In Over Albuquerque Police  - The Associated Press

Albuquerque police yesterday arrested 13 people staging a sit-in at Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry's office to protest police shootings.

About three dozen people gathered Monday afternoon at Berry's office and demanded to see the mayor. They're seeking more immediate reforms within the police department as well as the firing of Police Chief Gordon Eden.

At one point, a demonstrator chained herself to a display stand as others yelled and some sat silently. A handful of officers monitored the situation while chief administrator Rob Perry recorded the scene on his smartphone.

About a dozen protesters, some reading from a Justice Department report that highlighted excessive force by officers, remained when police arrived and began arresting them.

Monday's demonstration comes as the city negotiates with the federal government over police reforms.

Las Cruces Council Oks Increases In Minimum Wage - The Associated Press and Las Cruces Sun-News

Minimum-wage workers in New Mexico's second most populous city will be getting raises.

The Las Cruces City Council voted 4-3 to raise the minimum wage in the city from New Mexico's $7.50 hourly rate to $8 an hour in July 2015 and to $8.50 in January 2016.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the vote followed three hours of debate yesterday.

Supporters said the increases are necessary for workers and reasonable for businesses, while councilors voting against the measure said the increases don't do enough to help struggling families.

Las Cruces voters ultimately could decide the issue. A group is proposing a three-phased measure to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2017.

Santa Fe Appoints New Police Chief - The Associated Press

A former New Mexico State Police officer who is now Espanola's public safety director will be Santa Fe's next police chief.

Santa Fe officials yesterday announced the selection of 42-year-old Eric Garcia to replace Ray Rael, who resigned as police chief in March.

Santa Fe had 48 applicants for the position, and Garcia was one of four finalists considered by City Manager Brian Snyder.

Garcia spent 18 years in the State Police.

He says his priorities include reducing property crime, increasing police presence in the community and trying to have officers work four-day work weeks.

City spokeswoman Jodi McGinnis Porter says Garcia got the nod because of his focus on community policing, history of improving officer morale and commitment to introducing new training programs.

2 Get Prison In 2010 Killings Of Oklahoma Couple - The Associated Press

Two people convicted in an Arizona prison break and a double homicide in New Mexico have been sentenced to prison.

Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Tracy Allen Province was sentenced Monday to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

They say Casslyn Mae Welch got a 40-year prison sentence.

Province and the 47-year-old Welch were accused of participating in the plot to carjack and kill a retired Oklahoma couple.

Arizona prison escapee John McCluskey was convicted of kidnapping and murdering 61-year-old Gary and Linda Haas in August 2010. He's scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

Welch is McCluskey's cousin and girlfriend. She pleaded guilty to helping McCluskey and Province escape from a prison near Kingman in July 2010.

Province and Welch testified for the prosecution in McCluskey's trial.