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MON: What to watch for in tomorrow's primary, Discrimination case against NM county commissioner may head to U.S. Supreme Court, + More

Election 2022 What to Watch
Russell Contreras/AP
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AP
FILE - State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, speaks to staff before the start of the New Mexico Legislative session, in Santa Fe, N.M., Jan. 15, 2019. Former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and Dow are prominent GOP contenders in a contest touching on concerns about U.S. border security, urban crime, inflation and the teaching of race and ethnicity in a heavily Latino and Native American state. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

2022 midterms: What to watch in primaries in 7 states - By Michael R. Blood Ap Political Writer

Primary elections in seven states Tuesday will set the stage for U.S. House and Senate races this fall, with many contests shaped by political fissures in both major parties and the lingering shadow of former President Donald Trump.

With control of Congress in play, a string of Republican House incumbents are contending with challenges from the political right, and some rivals are embracing Trump's baseless claims of election fraud in his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.

No incumbent governors or senators appear to be in imminent danger. In Iowa, several Democrats are jockeying for the chance to take on seven-term Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, with the campaign showcasing the breach between the Democratic Party's progressive and establishment wings.

Former Trump Cabinet member Ryan Zinke is seeking the GOP nomination in a newly created House district in Montana.

What to watch in Tuesday's primaries in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota:

NEW MEXICO

Five Republican candidates are competing to take on Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The incumbent is favored to keep her job in a state where Democrats control every statewide office and dominate the Legislature.

Former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and state Rep. Rebecca Dow are prominent GOP contenders in a contest touching on concerns about U.S. border security, urban crime, inflation and the teaching of race and ethnicity in a heavily Latino and Native American state.

Democratic voters are deciding on a nominee for the state's top law enforcement post to succeed Attorney General Hector Balderas. Albuquerque-based District Attorney Raúl Torrez is competing against state Auditor Brian Colón in a hard-fought campaign with few ideological divisions.

CALIFORNIA

California is a Democratic fortress where the party holds every statewide office and its voters outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 2-to-1. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla face little-known competitors.

But Republicans retain pockets of strength in some U.S. House districts that are expected to be among the most competitive races in the country.

In a heavily Democratic district in the state's Central Valley farm belt, Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao is seeing blowback for his vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Republican Chris Mathys has made Valadao's vote a centerpiece in his campaign to oust him.

In a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles, several Democrats are hoping to take on Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, who is expected to advance to November with one of the Democrats as the top two finishers in the race. Garcia rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania being cast for Biden and opposed Trump's impeachment after the Capitol insurrection.

The crowded Los Angeles mayor's race is shaping up to be a fight between Rick Caruso, a pro-business billionaire Republican-turned-Democrat who sits on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who was on Biden's shortlist for vice president. If no candidate clears 50%, the top two finishers advance to a November runoff.

In another closely watched election, San Francisco voters are considering whether to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive Democrat who critics say has failed to prosecute repeat offenders, amid widespread frustration with crime and homelessness.

IOWA

Republicans have gained an advantage in the state over the past decade, and the Democratic Senate primary provides a snapshot of the minority party's battle for relevance.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken is waging a competitive contest with former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer in a bid to take on the 88-year-old Grassley, who has been endorsed by Trump.

Finkenauer is a 33-year-old, former two-term state representative who argues her youth and more recent experience in Iowa make her a better fit to challenge a Republican first elected to the Senate in 1980. She has made term limits a centerpiece of her campaign.

Franken, 64, is promoting a progressive agenda, including adding a public insurance option to the Affordable Care Act. He is from conservative western Iowa and argues he could be more competitive against Grassley by whittling into the senator's margins in heavily Republican areas.

Physician Glenn Hurst, a councilman for a small western Iowa city and the Iowa Democratic Party's chair for its rural caucus, is running to the left of both Finkenauer and Franken.

Meanwhile, three Republicans are competing for a chance to run against Iowa's lone Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Cindy Axne.

MISSISSIPPI

Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo is facing his largest-ever field of challengers after a congressional ethics watchdog raised questions about his campaign spending.

A 2021 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found "substantial reason to believe" Palazzo, a military veteran who serves on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and personal errands. His then-spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the probe was based on politically motivated "false allegations."

His six opponents include a sheriff, Mike Ezell, and a state senator, Brice Wiggins. If no candidate wins a majority of votes, a runoff will be June 28.

Mississippi's two other Republican congressmen, Trent Kelly and Michael Guest, face primary challengers who support Trump's false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

MONTANA

It's the first time since 1993 that the state will have two House seats, after one was added to account for Montana's growing population.

Zinke, Trump's former Interior Department secretary, technically is in an open race for the new seat. But the former Navy SEAL is widely considered the de facto incumbent, since he twice won elections for the state's other House seat before stepping down in 2017 to join the Trump administration.

His opponents are drawing attention to Zinke's troubled tenure at the agency, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations. One investigation determined Zinke lied to an agency ethics official about his continued involvement in a commercial real estate deal in his hometown. He's faced a smear campaign over his military service from the extreme right wing of his party and questions about his residency following revelations that his wife declared a house in California as her primary residence.

His opponents in the GOP primary include former state Sen. Al "Doc" Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and hard-line conservative who has tried to paint Zinke as a "liberal insider."

Three Democrats are vying for their party's nomination: public health advocate Cora Neumann, Olympic rower and attorney Monica Tranel and former state Rep. Tom Winter.

In the state's other district, first-term Rep. Matt Rosendale, who has Trump's endorsement, will look to fend off three Republican primary challengers.

NEW JERSEY

A dozen House districts are on the ballot.

Trump said in 2021 he would back a challenger to long-serving Republican Rep. Chris Smith, but that never happened. The absence of an endorsement hasn't stopped conservative talk show host Mike Crispi, one of Smith's Republican challengers, from claiming Trump's mantle.

In northern New Jersey, former state Senate minority leader Tom Kean Jr. has a fundraising edge and establishment support over five rivals. Kean, the son of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr., is hoping for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, who won a close contest two years ago.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez's son, Rob, is running for a seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Albio Sires. Menendez, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioner, locked up party support upon entering the race.

SOUTH DAKOTA

A trio of Republican incumbents face primary challengers running on their political right.

Gov. Kristi Noem, who is considered a potential White House prospect, is favored to win the GOP nomination. One rival, state legislator Steve Haugaard, has argued that Noem spent more time trying to build a national political profile than focusing on her job at home. She's mostly ignored him.

U.S. Sen. John Thune faced Trump's ire after dismissing the former president's election fraud claims. However, no well-known challenger has emerged in Thune's reelection bid. One of his opponents, Mark Mowry, was among the crowd that demonstrated near the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In the House, Republican state lawmaker Taffy Howard is trying to unseat GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson in the state's lone district. Johnson touts his conservative voting record while keeping an ability to work across party lines, but Howard has tried to paint him as a foot soldier for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

'Viewpoint discrimination' case may head to Supreme Court - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

A lawsuit claiming that New Mexico county commissioner and Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin engaged in "viewpoint" discrimination could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a test-case for free speech rights on social media platforms.

Chaplain and local Democratic Party leader Jeff Swanson lost a federal appeals court ruling in February in a lawsuit claiming he was blocked by Griffin from social media discussions about public county business on Griffin's Facebook page.

Swanson, a Marine veteran, says he was blocked in a discriminatory fashion after criticizing Griffin about the upkeep of a courthouse and urging Griffin to not mix politics and religion. Swanson's attorney on Monday confirmed the petition to the Supreme Court, which has not said if it will take the case.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in February sided with Griffin in the dispute over his social media account and whether it functioned as a public forum concerning county affairs, with implied guarantees to public access and free speech.

The appeals court in the dispute found no clearly established right to First Amendment free speech protections for public discussions on social media platforms.

Advocacy groups including the ACLU assert that First Amendment rights should apply to social media accounts when a public officials use accounts as an extensions of their office.

Griffin has said that he used his Facebook page to express personal opinions as just one member of a three-member county commission.

The dispute emerged in 2019 — long before Griffin, an elected commissioner in southern New Mexico's Otero County — was suspended indefinitely from social media accounts, including Facebook, following his arrest in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Griffin was convicted of illegally entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds, where he appeared on an outdoor terrace and tried to lead the crowd in prayer without entering the building.

He was acquitted of engaging in disorderly conduct during the riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

Griffin is not running for reelection in November.

2-year-old ‘red flag' law rarely used in New Mexico - KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal 

Back in 2020, New Mexico’s legislature squeaked by a law that was meant, in theory, to take away guns from those who pose a threat to themselves or their communities.

Known as ‘red flag laws’ nationally, the law allows the temporary seizure of arms from individuals through court orders by law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

As the Albuquerque journal reports, that law has been used just under ten times statewide, according to data from the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

A broad overview of the 9 petitions filed over the past two years shows that most of them were in direct response to threats and violence.

One petition filed in 2020 happened when a landlord in Farmington told police his tenant was planning on traveling to Washington D.C. to protect Donald Trump from current President Joe Biden.

These petitions can be requested, but not directly filed, by a spouse, ex-partner, parent, child, grandparent, school administrator, or employer.

New Mexico man gets 2 life in prison terms for 2009 murders - Associated Press

A New Mexico man convicted in a 2009 double homicide case has been sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms.

Prosecutors said 49-year-old Robert Chavez's sentences will run consecutive with previous sentences, including a 26-year prison term for drug trafficking and life in prison plus 21 years for another murder.

Chavez was convicted last month of the 2009 double homicide of Max Griego Jr. and Mary Hudson Gutierrez and sentenced last Thursday.

Prosecutors said Chavez was the leader of the "AZ Boys" organization allegedly connected to drug trafficking.

Court records show Griego and Hudson Gutierrez were found fatally shot at her Alamogordo home in July 2009 and two men plus a driver were seen fleeing the scene.

The case went cold for almost a decade until Chavez and two other suspects were indicted in January 2019.

New exhibit shows Navajo Nation's suffering, resiliency - By Robert Nott Santa Fe New Mexican

They named the area near this place Bosque Redondo, after a grove of cottonwoods near the river.

The Navajo imprisoned there called it "Hwéeldi." Some say that translates to "place of suffering."

It might as well have been called hell.

It was near here, in Billy the Kid country, that the U.S. government attempted to strip members of the Navajo Nation and Mescalero Apache tribe of their language, culture and spiritual beliefs in the 1860s.

The government had already removed them from their native lands in New Mexico and Arizona, forcing them to take the Long Walk, as it became known — a forlorn journey on foot of several hundred miles in which disease and death became daily companions. And it wasn't just one journey; there were a number of long walks that took place over the years from different sites, including Fort Defiance in Arizona and Fort Wingate near Gallup.

Once the people arrived here, they found a sandy, desolate desert landscape unfit for farming and bereft of fresh water. They became prisoners, then survivors, struggling first to just live and then to get back home.

In the end, they succeeded, said Morgen Young, a historian who helped leaders of the Bosque Redondo Memorial/Fort Sumner Historic Site create the exhibition Bosque Redondo: A Place of Suffering...A Place of Survival.

Ultimately, Apaches fled the fortress-reservation one winter night in 1865, and Navajos negotiated a release and treaty in 1868 that helped them grow into an influential nation, she said.

"This is a place of resiliency," Young told the Santa Fe New Mexican. "People were forced here, they survived, they returned home."

And that attitude is reflected in the exhibition, which drew more than 500 people on May 28, the official opening day. The exhibition, which draws on historical documents and oral accounts, takes the visitor on a journey back to the 1860s through today as it tells the story of people who ultimately found their way home and reclaimed their native ways.

It's not an easy story to tell — or to take in. Photographs, panels of text and audio presentations of the oral memories of those who survived the ordeal paint a portrait of a government determined to wipe out an Indigenous population it saw as a threat.

There are stories of soldiers shooting pregnant women who could not keep up on the walk; of elders and babies drowning in river crossings; of 12- and 13-year-old girls, fighting off starvation, selling their bodies to soldiers for a piece of cornmeal.

It's an exhibition that can easily prompt tears, said Santa Fean Diana Clanin, who said it was a "difficult decision" to visit the exhibition. As a docent for the New Mexico History Museum, she knows the backstory of the site.

"I didn't know if I could be able to handle it," she said, adding the exhibition showcases the reality of "man's inhumanity to man."

But, she added: "It's worth every mile (I drove)."

Wendy Raper, a Navajo woman from Clovis, said she also knows all too well the history of the Long Walk and the prison camp at Fort Sumner.

"This is where I come from," she said. "This is what made me who I am."

The 6,500-square-foot exhibition was decades in the making and started in large part because of a handwritten letter left at the site by some visiting Diné youth in June 1990. At that time, the historic site focused on providing information about the fort and the famous outlaw who was shot and killed in these parts — Billy the Kid.

The letter — on display in the museum — said the youth found the site "discriminating and not telling the true story behind what really happened to our ancestors in 1864-1868." It went on to demand museum officials "show and tell the true history of the Navajos and the United States military."

Change did not happen overnight, or even over the course of another 15 years. The Bosque Redondo Memorial, as it is now known, opened in 2005 but was just a facility with a few storyboards of information. But talks slowly began around the idea of developing a permanent exhibition — one that would include the input of Navajo and Mescalero Apache members.

Aaron Roth, historic sites manager for the memorial, said those behind the creation of the exhibition sat down for the first time with tribal community members in August 2016 to determine how best to present a difficult story that needed to be told.

Five years later, in the autumn of 2021, the memorial's leaders mounted what Roth called a "soft opening" of the current exhibition.

Among other features, the exhibition includes period and contemporary cultural artifacts, a touch-screen display of the 1868 treaty between the Navajo and the U.S. government that you can read or hear and a response room where visitors can record their reactions to the exhibition.

Many of those written responses, Roth and others involved with the memorial said, reflect personal stories, including from the survivors or children of survivors of the Holocaust. Several people interviewed at the site Saturday said it immediately conjured up images of Nazi Germany's persecution and genocide of Jews.

In that sense, you might say the Bosque Redondo memorial is the closest thing to a Holocaust museum that Native Americans have.

But Roth, like others interviewed for this story, said he does not believe the majority of general public knows the story behind the site or the Long Walk.

"For the longest time, even in (Fort Sumner) itself, the history wasn't even taught in schools," he said. "People who grew up here in the '60s and '70s said to me, 'This happened in our own backyard, and we didn't even know it happened.' "

Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona, and one of the Native American representatives who helped shape the exhibition, echoed that thought.

"It seems the majority of Americans have no idea that this even happened," he said. "When there's that unawareness, it leads to an uncaring attitude. Once someone understands what happened, their logic and emotions will help them understand that this was wrong."

He said that so many people see the story of the Long Walk and Bosque Redondo imprisonment as one of "resiliency" speaks to the fact "we've come a long way at the sacrifice of some of our culture, the sacrifice of human lives."

For 17-year-old Veronica Beck-Ruiz, a member of the Chiricahua Apache nation, the exhibition touches deep, raw personal emotions. Her great-great grandmother endured the Long Walk and Bosque Redondo.

Beck-Ruiz — who left a number of personal messages on Post-it notes and on the many whiteboards in the exhibition expressing how it made her feel — summed up her sentiments in one succinct sentence as she prepared to leave the memorial.

"It shouldn't have happened, but it did," she said. "And it made our people stronger."

Roswell 'ballot bins' urge residents to pick up, not litter - By Juno Ogle Roswell Daily Record

A little humor can go a long way in delivering a serious message, Kathy Lay learned, so now Roswell residents and visitors can vote with their cigarette butts on questions about UFOs, aliens and New Mexico's ubiquitous chile question.

Keep Roswell Beautiful has placed three yellow "ballot bins" at downtown bus stops that pose the questions "Is there life on other planets?" "Did aliens crash near Roswell?" and "Red or green?" Smokers can vote for their answer by placing their cigarette butts in the corresponding side of the bin.

Lay, the city's volunteer and outreach coordinator and staff liaison for Keep Roswell Beautiful, said the bins are part of the organization's litter prevention campaign, the Roswell Daily Record reported. Lay said when she was researching what kind of campaign the organization could do, she was surprised to see many references to cigarette butts being the No. 1 most-littered item and the dangers they pose to the environment.

"Both of those facts shocked me," she said.

According to a 2009 study at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco, cigarette filters are made of plastic materials that will break down under sunlight but are not bio-degradable. Further studies show the filters contain residues of the chemicals used to grow and process tobacco and manufacture cigarettes and can leach more than 4,000 chemicals into soil and water.

The study also stated that 5.6 trillion cigarettes were consumed worldwide in 2002 and that an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts wind up as litter worldwide.

"Even after those filters have turned into plastic dust, the toxins remain in the soils, and so we're trying to keep them out of the general land areas and especially out of the waterways," Lay said.

Because the cigarette butts are light, they can be easily be blown around and could eventually end up in the Spring River or Hondo River and then the Pecos River, she said. Their small size can also make them more difficult to remove from waterways, as they can get caught in vegetation, she said.

"The one fact that blew me away is that one cigarette butt in a liter of water kills half the fish," she said. "If they get in small pools, two or three cigarettes in that area will make that part of the water toxic and start killing fish," she said.

In designing the campaign, Lay said she didn't want it to appear to be critical of those who do smoke.

"I didn't want to come across as if it was trying to attack anyone, I just wanted people to understand how serious it was and how harmful they were so that people who do smoke would understand the impact and take actions that would change their behavior," she said.

She began to research campaigns on cigarette litter and found that a humorous approach using the ballot bins — voting with your butt — has seen success.

"Every place they did these, it got a lot of buzz. Everybody would laugh and then they look into what is it about, and then they were more open to receiving the message and not feeling that it was shoving it down their throat," she said.

She chose the questions as a fun way to reflect local and state culture, she said.

"I just wanted to hit just a couple of the things that are unique to Roswell and unique to New Mexico," she said.

The campaigns are popular in Europe, and unable to find U.S. supplier for the ballot bins, she ended up buying them from the United Kingdom.

Lay said as she learned about the effects cigarette filters can have on wildlife, she wanted to incorporate animals into the campaign while keeping the humor. She worked with the city's graphic designers and videographer to create billboards, social media graphics and videos featuring animals mostly native to New Mexico for a #NoButts4Me angle of the campaign.

The graphics feature animals such as an elk saying "No one wants to see your butts" and giving facts and disposal tips about cigarette filters. The short videos — posted on the Keep Roswell Beautiful Facebook page and city YouTube channel — feature different "talking" animals.

The bins have been in place for a couple of months. Lay said bus stops were chosen because those are areas where cigarette butt litter is often noticeable as people discard a cigarette before getting on the bus.

Lay collects the cigarette butts herself, she said, and sends them to a New Jersey company, Teracycle, that recycles cigarette waste. Anyone 21 or older can register to send cigarette butts to the company for free.

According to the company website, users can print off a mailing label to send a package of waste to the company.

Lay said there aren't plans at this point to add more bins. The message is the most important part of the campaign, she said.

"I don't know that they're going to be that instrumental in stopping litter in that spot. I do think they're instrumental in getting people's attention. It's a tool, not just for the immediate area, but as a tool to leverage to get the word out," she said.

Bob Talamini, member of Jets' Super Bowl team, dies at 83 - By Dennis Waszak Jr. Ap Pro Football Writer

Bob Talamini, an offensive lineman on the New York Jets' Super Bowl-winning team in 1969 after eight seasons with the Houston Oilers, died May 30. He was 83.

Citing his family, the Jets announced Talamini's death on their website Saturday night. No cause of death was provided, but an obituary posted by the Getz Funeral Home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, said a service for Talamini would be held Monday at Saint Albert The Great Newman Center.

Talamini was a six-time AFL All-Star selection for Houston, helping the Oilers win championships in the league's first two seasons after being drafted in 1959 out of Kentucky. He finished his career by playing one season with New York, helping Joe Namath and the Jets win the franchise's first — and still only — Super Bowl.

"Without Talamini, we don't win," Namath told The Associated Press in an interview last year. "Maybe we don't even get there. But we don't win without Bob Talamini."

Talamini was born Jan. 8, 1939, in Louisville, Kentucky, where he became a football standout at Xavier High School before playing at Kentucky. He was among the first draft picks in the Oilers' history and quickly established himself as a dependable and durable blocker while anchoring a line in front of a pair of future Pro Football Hall of Famers in quarterback George Blanda and halfback Billy Cannon.

Talamini, an All-AFL First Team selection three times with the Oilers, asked for his release following the 1967 season after being denied a request for a new contract. His playing career appeared uncertain until the Jets sent a third-round draft pick to the Oilers to acquire Talamini.

"The first day I saw Bob Talamini, he came to training camp which was in late-July or early August, and we're going to play our first exhibition game and we're loading up the buses and he comes out with a turtleneck sweater on," Namath said with a laugh. "I just couldn't believe it. It was like 90, 95 degrees and he made that turtleneck look like a mock turtle because he had no neck.

"He was just shoulders and a short neck — and a bull of a guy."

Talamini played in every game for the Jets during the 1968 season and started at left guard during the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Colts — a 16-7 victory powered by the offensive line and New York's running game, which rolled up 142 yards rushing.

"He was one of the best-kept secrets for us," Namath said. "And Talamini hasn't gotten a lot of recognition for what he did that year."

Talamini's playing career ended with the Super Bowl win and he worked in the financial consulting business for several years after football. He also served as president of the Houston Touchdown Club and president of the NFL Alumni Association.

Talamini is survived by his wife Mary Will, children Robin, Bob Jr., Tina, Tony, John, Juliana, and Migne', 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, sister Nancy Ratterman and first wife Charlene Talamini Legler.