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TUES: New Mexico votes for governor on concerns of crime and abortion, + More

2022 NM Governor Candidates Splitscreen
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (left) and Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti (right) are running for New Mexico governor on key issues of crime, education, abortion and the economy. (left photo Patrick Semansky/AP; right photo Jessica Onsurez/Carlsbad Current-Argus)

New Mexico votes for governor on concerns of crime, abortion - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seeking a second term in Tuesday's election on promises to defend access to abortion and sustain social spending as Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti urges new approaches to crime and the economy.

New Mexico voters are confronting stark choices as they fill a long list of statewide elected positions for the first time since the coronavirus overwhelmed rural hospitals and sent shockwaves through the economy, public schools and the criminal justice system.

The winning candidate for governor in a heavily Hispanic and Native American state will oversee a windfall in state government income from a thriving oil industry and confront anxiety about inflation, asylum seekers at the border and a record-setting spate of homicides in Albuquerque.

The race also has focused on access to abortion procedures in New Mexico, which has few restrictions and provides services to women from neighboring Texas and other states with abortion bans.

More than 100,000 ballots were cast on Election Day by noon, boosting overall participation to nearly 550,000 since the start of early and absentee voting four weeks ago, according to the New Mexico secretary of state's office.

Lujan Grisham says she will defend abortion access with public spending on clinics and provide a safe haven for abortion doctors, while Ronchetti supports a ban after 14 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions and has proposed letting voters decide on any restrictions through a statewide referendum.

Ronchetti, a former television meteorologist who made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2020, has railed against recent increases in state government spending and a "catch-and-release" system of bail and parole amid high violent crimes rates.

He has promised to roll back bail reforms, restore police-agency immunity from civil rights lawsuits and appoint hard-handed judges. At the border, he would deploy troops and police in solidarity with efforts from Republican governors in Arizona and Texas.

Bill Mueller, a 78-year-old economist and retired state worker, said he voted largely based on dissatisfaction with inflation and the economy.

"Any change would be better," said Mueller, casting his ballot at an elementary school in Tesuque.

In the state capital of Santa Fe on Tuesday, 33-year-old therapist Rhiannon Duke said she voted with new sense of gratitude, amid false claims and conspiracy theories about how ballots are cast and counted across the U.S.

"I feel kind of bewildered that people don't trust in this system," she said.

During the pandemic, Lujan Grisham implemented aggressive public health restrictions on businesses and a roughly year-long suspension of classroom learning, promoting COVID-19 vaccinations with special attention to Native American communities.

Ronchetti has highlighted the dismal outcomes for students and small businesses. He wants to remedy economic hardships by paying out annual individual rebates linked to the state's oilfield income, seeking cuts to income tax rates for middle-income earners and offering state-sponsored tutoring for early elementary school students.

Lujan Grisham has touting her political negotiating skills in providing teacher pay raises, tax cuts on sales and Social Security benefits along with summer rebates of up to $1,500 per household. She has signed a series of gun-control measures, legalized medically assisted suicide and instituted rules aimed at curbing oilfield pollution.

Ronchetti would put Republicans back in the driver's seat on many oilfield regulations in the nation's No. 2 state for petroleum production, behind Texas.

The next governor also will guide efforts to modernize the electrical grid in an era of climate change by appointing state utility regulators, positions previously filled by election.

Ronchetti was joined in New Mexico on the campaign trail by prominent Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence and GOP Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.

Lujan Grisham has drawn support from abortion-rights groups, teachers' union leaders and recent visits from U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

New Mexico has alternated between Democratic and Republican governors since the early 1980s. An incumbent governor last lost reelection in 1994.

A win by Ronchetti would end a succession of three Hispanic governors, staring with Democrat Bill Richardson, then Republican Susana Martinez and currently Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico congresswoman seeks to defend GOP foothold - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell vied for a second term in office Tuesday on a conservative platform of strict border security and unfettered support for the oil industry, in a congressional district that stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico across desert oilfields and portions of Albuquerque.

Democratic nominee Gabe Vasquez campaigned to flip the majority-Hispanic district on support for more equitable access to economic opportunity, a humanitarian approach to immigration and greater accountability for climate change in a major energy production region.

Vasquez, a former Las Cruces city councilor, also emphasized his Hispanic heritage and an upbringing along the border in a working-class, immigrant family.

A victory by Herrell in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District would preserve a Republican foothold in a state where Democrats have otherwise dominated elections for federal and statewide offices.

Herrell was among three first-term congresswomen seeking reelection as New Mexico's House delegation in newly redrawn districts that divvy up the politically conservative southeastern corner of the state — a premier U.S. production zone for petroleum. Legal proceedings are pending that could reverse the redistricting plan adopted by Democratic state legislators after the Nov. 8 election.

Herrell, a former state legislator, real estate agent and Alamogordo resident, voted against certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory and campaigned in New Mexico alongside staunchly conservative congressional and Senate colleagues, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The 2nd District still includes portions of the oil-rich Permian Basin, and Herrell cast herself as an unwavering advocate for the oil and natural gas industry as a bedrock of energy independence from foreign imports and as a source of local government income.

She has criticized the Biden administration for scrapping work on the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline and supporting Republican-backed legislation to prevent the administration from imposing a moratorium on new drilling permits on federal lands.

Herrell and Vasquez both cast their opponents as extremists in ads that highlight Herrell's denial that Biden was legitimately elected president and past activism by Vasquez for social justice causes in since-deleted social media posts and TV footage of the candidate as a masked street protester.

Vasquez has voiced support for core Democratic initiatives in Washington on infrastructure spending to speed the transition to renewable energy, raise the U.S. minimum wage and write abortion protections into federal law.

Herrell has voiced support for banning abortion with limited exceptions and said she supports the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson decision that allows state governments to determine access to abortion. New Mexico allows access to most abortion procedures.

In New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury campaigned on her support for abortion access, solutions to climate change and her initial success at bringing home federal infrastructure spending to a district that includes most of Albuquerque and rural areas as far as Roswell.

Stansbury won a special election in 2021 to succeed Deb Haaland after her appointment as secretary of the Interior Department. First District challenger and former police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes highlighted public safety concerns in her second bid for the seat, after a failed 2020 campaign against Haaland and losing a bid for lieutenant governor in 2018.

Also seeking reelection, Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez campaigned largely on her handling of accountability and federal relief efforts related to a massive wildfire this year that raged across more than 500 square miles of rural northern New Mexico, destroying hundreds of homes and water-supply systems.

The inferno within the 3rd Congressional District was traced to prescribed burns by the U.S. Forest Service that were supposed to reduce flammable undergrowth but escaped control under extremely dry, windy conditions. The Forest Service is overhauling protocols for prescribed burning, while a federal spending bill approved in September includes $2.5 billion in relief for New Mexico.

Republican challenger Alexis Martinez Johnson is an environmental engineer. She also ran for the district in 2020 as the GOP nominee and lost.

Navajos electing next leader who wields influence nationally - By Felicia Fonseca Associated Press

Navajo voters are deciding Tuesday who they want to be their next president — a position that wields influence nationally because of the tribe's hefty population and the size of it reservation in the U.S. Southwest.

Incumbent President Jonathan Nez is looking for another four years in the job to carry out infrastructure projects that will deliver running water, electricity and broadband to tens of thousands of tribal citizens who live without it.

"Here's an opportunity to put a shot in the arm for the Navajo economy and bring our Navajo people back," Nez said in a recent interview. "Overall, this is nation building, about bringing our professionals home."

Nez's challenger, Buu Nygren, also sees the need but said Nez has had more than two decades in politics to make it happen.

"I'm used to being held accountable in every job," said Nygren, who has a background in construction management. "I'm taking that approach. If I don't perform, I have no business being here."

The Navajo Nation's population of 400,000 is second only to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. It also has the largest land base by far of any tribe at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) stretching into parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

About a third of the reservation's residents, 126,000 Navajos, are registered to vote in the tribe's general election that also will determine the makeup of the 24-member Navajo Nation Council — often seen as more powerful than the tribal presidency. Nez and Nygren emerged as the top two vote-getters in the tribe's primary election in August among 15 candidates to advance to the primary.

Nez chose Chad Abeyta, a U.S. Air Force veteran and attorney, as his running mate. On Nygren's ticket is Richelle Montoya, the elected leader of the Torreon/Star Lake Chapter and a school board member.

The Navajo Nation has never elected a woman as president or vice president.

The Navajo Nation was thrust into the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic because at one point, it had one of the highest per-capita rates of infection in the U.S. Its decisive action became a playbook for other tribes on how to enact lockdowns, curfews and other requirements to help slow the spread of the virus. The Navajo-area director for the Indian Health Service, Roselyn Tso, later was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the federal agency.

The virus highlighted long-standing inequities for Navajo people but also led to an infusion of federal money for the tribe that partly will be used for infrastructure.

The tribe has long relied on revenue from the coal industry to fund its government, but those revenues have been declining as coal-fired plants and mines shut down. While the Navajo Nation owns a stake in one coal plant and some coal mines, it's been working to develop renewable energy sources.

Tourism also helps fuel the reservation's economy. Towering rock formations in Shiprock, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are international draws, as is the story of the famed Navajo Code Talkers who developed an World War II code that the Japanese never cracked.

Nygren says Navajo should take advantage of its geography and history as a way to boost the economy, along with beautifying flea markets and roadside stands where vendors sell jewelry, food and other goods. Nygren, who was a tribal vice presidential candidate in 2018, has been frustrated at the pace of tribal government and projects.

Unemployment hovers around 50% on the reservation.

"Millions and millions of dollars probably cruise through the Navajo Nation every day, and we're not capturing it," Nygren said.

Nez acknowledged that businesses were hurt by strict measures enacted on the Navajo Nation to keep the coronavirus from spreading. He's encouraged mine and power plant workers who have lost their jobs and are skilled in various trades to form businesses and apply for what will be about $1 billion in contracts for infrastructure projects.

"There are some irons in the fire right now of some permanent changes," he said.

Election conspiracies frame contests for secretary of state - By Nicholas Riccardi Associated Press

Among the myriad offices gaining attention on the ballot Tuesday, the normally obscure post of secretary of state stands out.

In most states, that position is the top election official who oversees the state's voting system. In some of the nation's pivotal swing states, Republicans have nominated candidates for that office who supported overturning the 2020 presidential election to keep Donald Trump in the White House.

All told, half of the 22 Republicans running for secretary of state positions that oversee elections have repeated Trump's election lies, and seven of them supported his attempts to overturn the will of the people and remain in power in 2020.

"If they win, we're going to have someone who's run on a platform of election denial, saying, 'Actually, elections are only legitimate when my candidate wins,'" said David Becker, executive director of The Center for Election Innovation & Research and co-author of "The Big Truth," a book warning of the dangers of Trump's election lies.

In Arizona, state Rep, Mark Finchem, who attended Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, is running for secretary of state after saying he wouldn't have certified Democrat Joe Biden's 2020 win in that state. The GOP nominee in Nevada, Jim Marchant, made the same promise. In New Mexico, Republican secretary of state challenger Audrey Trujillo cheered on a failed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020 to overturn Biden's win.

And in perennial swing state Michigan, Republican Kristina Karamo insists Biden didn't actually win her state, even though he did — by more than 154,000 votes.

The candidacies from election conspiracists have triggered an avalanche of spending in the contests, predominantly by Democrats and their allies. They have bombarded the races with millions of dollars in ads pleading for voters to think carefully before entrusting such candidates with the job of running elections.

There are a bevy of other election conspiracy theorists almost guaranteed to win in less competitive states Tuesday night. In Wyoming, state Rep. Chuck Gray is running unopposed. After he won the GOP primary, the state's election director resigned and the GOP-controlled state legislature mulled taking election administration away from the office but balked. In Alabama, state Rep. Wes Allen, the GOP nominee in the solidly conservative state, backed a lawsuit to overturn Biden's win that was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In some states, the secretary of state doesn't oversee elections. In others, like Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state to oversee voting. There, Republican nominee Doug Mastriano arranged for buses to transport people to Trump's Jan. 6 rally and has promised to appoint someone who will wipe clean the state's voter rolls, forcing the state's roughly 8.8 million voters to re-register.

In Wisconsin, the state's bipartisan elections commissions oversees elections, but some Republicans want to change that. The state's Democratic governor, Tony Evers, has blocked bills from the GOP-controlled legislature trying to wrest control of voting away from the commission. Evers is facing Republican Tim Michels, a businessman backed by Trump who has his own plan for making the commission friendlier to Republicans.

Many Republican incumbents, in contrast, rebuffed Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election and won primaries against those who questioned that contest. The most prominent example is in Georgia, where Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rejected Trump's private entreaties to "find" enough votes to declare him winner of the state Biden actually won.

Raffensperger's refusal infuriated Trump, who recruited a primary challenger who lost badly in the May primary. Raffensperger now faces Democratic state Sen. Bee Nguyen on Tuesday.

Hobbs committee passes ordinance to block abortion clinics - Associated Press

The Hobbs city commission has unanimously passed an ordinance designed to block abortion clinics from operating although the procedure remains legal in New Mexico.

The Hobbs News Sun reports the all-male city commission voted 7-0 Monday night for the so-called "sanctuary city for the unborn" ordinance.

Incumbent New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has cast herself as a staunch defender of access to abortion, said Hobbs' ordinance "is a clear affront to the rights and personal autonomy of every woman in Hobbs and southeastern New Mexico and we will not stand for it."

Grisham added in a statement that "reproductive health care is legal and protected in every corner of our state. Providers delivering health care have every right to establish a practice, and all women have the right to access medication abortion services, no matter where in New Mexico they call home."

New Mexico state law ensures access to abortion with few restrictions even after the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back guaranteed access in a June decision.

Grisham, a Democrat, signed an executive order in August that pledges $10 million to build a clinic that would provide abortion and other pregnancy care.

Fake elector contributions to Ronchetti’s campaign reach $15K - By Ryan Lowery, Source New Mexico

Since announcing his candidacy for governor late last year, Mark Ronchetti has accepted cash donations from three fake electors and one other person who’s accused of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, campaign finance documents show.

The Ronchetti campaign has accepted a total of $15,000 from Lupe L. Garcia, Rosalind Tripp and Deborah W. Maestas, three New Mexicans who attempted to falsely award the state’s electoral votes to Donald Trump. Ronchetti also accepted a $500 donation from John Eastman, a former Trump lawyer who is under scrutiny by a congressional committee for his role in attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The $15,000 donated by the fake electors trickled into Ronchetti’s campaign over the course of four months, with the first donation coming on June 29, three weeks after Ronchetti won the Republican primary election. Source New Mexico has been following this story throughout the campaign cycle.

The latest donations are reflected in a campaign finance report filed last week that covers the period from Oct. 4 through Nov. 1. The report shows that both Tripp and Garcia made new donations to the Ronchetti campaign in October, with Tripp giving $1,000 on Oct. 21, and Garcia contributing another $1,000 on Oct. 25.

Previous reports show that Garcia, the first fake elector to donate to Ronchetti, gave $2,000 on June 29. The next influx of cash from a fake elector came from Tripp, who donated $1,000 on Aug. 19. That same day, Tripp’s husband, Donald Tripp Jr. — who has not been implicated in the fake elector scheme — donated $2,500 to Ronchetti.

The largest donation from a fake elector came on Sept. 16 when Maestas donated $10,000, according to campaign finance reports.

Maestas is one of at least 14 fake electors nationwide who has been subpoenaed to testify before the congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A federal judge recently ordered that Eastman must provide the select committee with multiple documents, including emails related to efforts aimed at disrupting Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election. Eastman donated $500 to Ronchetti’s campaign on Sept. 27.

THE FAKE ELECTOR SCHEME

Rosalind Tripp, Garcia, Maestas and two others signed a document in December 2020 as part of an attempt to allocate New Mexico’s electoral votes from the 2020 election to Donald Trump, even though Joe Biden won the state by 10 percentage points.

New Mexico was one of seven states that had fake electors file phony documents in a Republican scheme to have alternate slates of electors in place with the hope that Congress would accept those slates and reject the official slates.

The 84 Republicans behind the fake elector scheme saw it as a contingency in the event of a contested election. Electors in each state were required to sign documents certifying their state’s election results by Dec. 14. By that date, no evidence disputing the 2020 election results existed.

FINAL HOURS

During the four-week period covered by the latest finance reports filed last week by all three campaigns, Ronchetti raised a little more than $1.4 million while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised just over $1.3 million. Libertarian candidate Karen Bedonie is a distant third, raising a little more than $10,000.

Although Ronchetti leads in funding for the recent reporting period, Lujan Grisham has raised considerably more money throughout the course of the election. Lujan Grisham has brought in $12.5 million compared with $9.3 million raised by Ronchetti. Bedonie has raised a total of $147,000.

Finance records show that all three campaigns have spent most of what they’ve earned, too. Ronchetti has spent around $8.9 million, Lujan Grisham has spent nearly all of the $12.5 million she’s taken in, and Bedonie has spent $144,000.

In total, the three candidates have spent about $22 million this election cycle, making this one of the most expensive races in state history.

Delaney Corcoran, a spokesperson for Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign, said the governor is in an “incredibly strong position” heading into the final hours of the campaign, and that the governor will be working until polls close Tuesday night to encourage New Mexicans to vote.

“Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidate for New Mexico governor, Ronchetti, is being funded by John Eastman (and) New Mexico fake electors,” Corcoran said. “His friendliness with those determined to undermine our democracy is a dangerous sign about the extremist agenda he wants to force on New Mexicans.”

Corcoran also expressed concerns that Ronchetti’s willingness to accept funding from people who’ve already attempted to overturn an election could indicate that, if he were elected governor, Ronchetti might refuse to certify future elections in the state.

“The New Mexico governor is one of three positions in the state who certifies statewide election results,” Corcoran said. “Ronchetti’s many connections to election deniers is extremely concerning if he were to have that responsibility.”

Each campaign must file one more finance report on Jan. 9. The forthcoming report will show donations received by the campaigns in the final days before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

NO COMMENT

The Ronchetti campaign did not respond to a request for comment on this story, nor has anyone there responded to requests for comment on two previous Source New Mexico stories about contributions made to the campaign.

Garcia, Tripp and Maestas could not be reached for comment.

We will update this story if we hear back from anyone.

New Mexico embraces early, absentee voting in midterm - Associated Press

Voter participation by early and absentee balloting in Tuesday's election has nearly surpassed participation by those methods in New Mexico's 2018 midterm election.

The New Mexico secretary of state's office on Monday said that nearly 440,000 ballots have been cast through the close of early in-person voting on Saturday and by absentee voting, with more than a day remaining in the election. That's only a few thousand votes shy of the 2018 tally for all early and absentee ballots.

Registered Democrats accounted for nearly 52% of early and absentee ballots cast so far in advance of Election Day. Registered Republicans have cast nearly 35% of the total.

New Mexico voters are deciding whether to reelect Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who won an open race in 2018 to succeed termed-out Republican Susana Martinez.

Republican nominee and former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti has mounted a well-financed challenge that highlights concerns about crime, inflation and public school performance in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lujan Grisham is promoting her support for abortion access as a cornerstone of women's rights, while urging voters to stay the course on increased public investments in public education, health care and tuition-free college.

Several dozen union workers, their families and other supporters gathered Monday evening in Albuquerque for a final rally in support of the governor and other Democratic candidates before Election Day. They waved signs, chanted and donned "MLG" buttons.

Across town, Ronchetti energized a crowd of his supporters at an Albuquerque park, marking the final stop for what has been a statewide tour.

Biden campaigned in Albuquerque last week in support of Lujan Grisham, while Republicans ranging from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to former President Donald Trump have endorsed Ronchetti.

New Mexico voters are picking their favorite candidates for a long list of statewide elected offices, including secretary of state, attorney general and land commissioner to oversee energy development across vast swaths of state trust land.

Three first-term congresswomen are seeking reelection, as Democrats defend their majority in the state House.

Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell is seeking a second term after flipping the 2nd Congressional District to Republican control in 2020. She's competing with Democratic former Las Cruces city councilor Gabe Vasquez.

The U.S. Justice Department announced that it will monitor two New Mexico counties on Tuesday for compliance with federal voting rights law — part of a regular efforts by the agency's civil rights division. Bernalillo and San Juan counties are among 64 jurisdictions nationwide that were chosen this year to be monitored for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Son of suspect in Muslim slayings to make plea on gun charge - Associated Press

The son of an Afghan refugee suspected in the shooting deaths of four Muslim men in New Mexico has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a charge that he provided a false address when buying two guns last year.

Court records detail the proposed agreement filed last week between Shaheed Syed and prosecutors. It calls for Syed to be sentenced to time already served and to be placed on three years of supervised release.

There's no indication how soon the court could sign off on the proposal. Neither prosecutors nor Syed's public defender would comment on the pending motion.

Authorities have charged Syed's father — Muhammad Syed — with three counts of murder and tampering with evidence charges in the killings that shook New Mexico's Muslim community over the summer. The elder Syed also is a suspect in a killing of a Muslim shop owner in Albuquerque last year.

No motive has been disclosed. Police say bullet casings found at two crime scenes were linked with casings found in Muhammad Syed's vehicle and guns found at his home and in his vehicle.

Muhammad Syed, who has been in the U.S. with his family for several years, had denied involvement in the killings when authorities detained him. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a hearing in state district court in late August. He remains in custody.

Prosecutors have alleged that Shaheen Syed may have played a role in at least one of the killings, but he has not been charged in that case.

In court filings, prosecutors pointed to cellphone records that they say show Syed possibly helped his father track Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old man from Pakistan who was fatally shot on Aug. 5 in the parking lot of a refugee resettlement agency in southeast Albuquerque.

John Anderson, Shaheen Syed's attorney, said during an earlier court hearing that those allegations against his client were "thin and speculative."

As for the weapons charge, Syed had used a Florida address on his firearm application even though he currently lived in Albuquerque.

Navajo legislative leader to resign but remain a lawmaker - Associated Press

The head of the Navajo Nation's legislative branch said he will resign from his leadership role after he was photographed intoxicated in Las Vegas but will retain his position as a tribal lawmaker.

Seth Damon announced Friday he would resign as Navajo Nation Council speaker, effective when the council elects someone else to fill the remainder of his term, which ends in January. In the meantime, he remains speaker in name and retains his position as a tribal lawmaker.

Damon has delegated administrative duties of the legislative branch and oversight of council sessions to a fellow tribal lawmaker.

Damon has held the speaker's post for nearly four years — two consecutive, two-year terms.

The council had convened Friday to consider legislation to place Damon on leave indefinitely without pay. The bill was rescinded after Damon's announcement that he would resign.

Damon apologized to his constituents, the council and the Navajo people for public intoxication during a family trip last month to Nevada during the National Indian Finals Rodeo. He was photographed slumped in a chair in front of a gambling machine.

He pledged to get help for alcohol abuse.

"I know that I need to do this for not only the integrity of this position but most importantly, the upholding and integrity of the Navajo Nation in moving forward," he said Friday.

Damon is running unopposed Tuesday for his seat on the 24-member Navajo Nation Council to represent six Navajo communities in the Arizona portion of the reservation.

Council Delegate Daniel Tso is the first tasked with overseeing the council temporarily until lawmakers elect a new speaker. Council spokesperson Kyron Hardy said no date has been set. Legislation would have to be introduced first.

The Navajo Nation is holding its general election Tuesday for tribal president, tribal lawmakers and other offices. The newly elected officials will be seated in January. The council's first order of business will be to select a speaker pro tem from among its membership.