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Judge shuts down attempt to block Trump from New Mexico ballot

A recent ruling by a federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge aimed at preventing 45th President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot in New Mexico. The case, brought forward by John Anthony Castro, was rejected due to Castro’s lack of standing. Notably, Castro, who is also a presidential candidate and was recently indicted on charges related to false tax returns, is appealing the decision.

Castro’s legal action against Trump and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver was part of a broader effort to derail Trump’s potential 2024 presidential run. He based his argument on the Insurrection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, Judge Matthew Garcia dismissed the case, stating that Castro lacked “political competitor standing” to Trump.

In his ruling, Judge Garcia elaborated on the concept of “political competitor standing,” which suggests a candidate has the standing to challenge an allegedly ineligible rival’s inclusion on the ballot if it harms their chances of winning. Garcia concluded that Castro’s campaign activities, which included small campaign donations and an online video show, did not establish him as a legitimate political competitor to Trump.

Garcia further noted that Castro had not shown he was genuinely competing with Trump for votes or contributions, nor that Trump’s presence on the ballot would impact his chances of securing the nomination in New Mexico. He pointed out Castro’s absence in national polls and lack of concrete evidence of campaign activities or support within New Mexico.

The judge deemed the complaint futile and dismissed the case without prejudice, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Consequently, related motions by Castro were also rendered moot.

Following the dismissal, Trump’s campaign spokesman Steven Cheung released a statement highlighting Trump’s undefeated record against 14th Amendment claims in federal court. Cheung criticized Democrats for attempting to “steal the election” by legally trying to remove Trump from ballots, alleging these efforts were driven by desperation due to Joe Biden’s perceived failures. He expressed confidence in Trump’s chances in a fair election.

The case, Castro v. Toulouse Oliver, No.1:23-cv-00766-MLG-GJF, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Mexico.

It’s official: See all the gun grabs Lujan Grisham wants for upcoming session

In a press conference Friday, anti-gun Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, flanked by various state public safety officials, police, and advocates for reducing gun violence, including discredited anti-gun activist Miranda Viscoli, introduced a slew of fringe anti-gun bills to take away New Mexicans’ Second Amendment rights in the upcoming 30-day legislative session.

Described by the Governor as the so-called “largest, most comprehensive package” in the legislative history of the state, these proposals primarily target gun rights, which Lujan Grisham claims plagues “every corner around the globe.”

Governor Lujan Grisham mentioned her discussions with the Democratic caucus and supporters of her public safety package, expressing optimism about Democratic support this year. However, most of the legislation she introduced at the state Capitol news conference was not yet available on the Legislature’s website. The proposed measures include, per New Mexico Shooting Sports Association:

  • A semi-automatic rife ban modeled after the failed federal proposal from Senator Heinrich
  • Banning the carrying of firearms in parks, playgrounds and near polling places
  • Raising the age limit to purchase firearms to 21
  • A 14-day waiting period when purchasing a gun
  • Expanding New Mexico’s “red-flag” gun confiscation law (HB27)
  • Making it easier to sue gun manufacturers and retailers

The state Supreme Court is currently deliberating on a case against the governor’s executive order that bans firearms in children’s play areas in Albuquerque after she previously attempted to “suspend” Bernalillo County and Albuquerque residents’ gun rights but was immediately slapped down in court due to the edict’s blatant unconstitutionality. 

Lujan Grisham highlighted that some of the proposed bills enjoy bipartisan support. One significant proposal would allow judges to detain suspects charged with serious violent crimes until trial, unless countered by substantial evidence. This proposal has been a subject of intense debate, with proponents arguing for community safety and opponents citing constitutional rights concerns.

Second Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman emphasized the necessity of detaining certain suspects to ensure community safety. Representative Craig Brandt, a Republican from Rio Rancho, who is sponsoring the pretrial detention bill, mentioned working with the governor on various crime and public safety bills but expressed his resistance to any measures infringing on constitutional rights, per the Associated Press.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca criticized the governor’s approach as overly partisan and overly restrictive on Second Amendment rights. He urged for a tougher stance on criminals rather than law-abiding citizens. GOP Representative Rod Montoya of Farmington pointed out that past Republican-led crime bills often faltered in Democrat-controlled committees, but he remained hopeful about reintroducing them this year despite anticipating resistance from the Democrat-majority Legislature.

Roswell attorney nominated for open NM House seat

Chaves County’s legislative team recently welcomed a new member, with oil and gas lawyer Jared Hembree joining its ranks. In a unanimous decision, the county commissioners voted 5-0 to recommend Hembree to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for appointment to represent New Mexico House District 59.

Following the meeting, Hembree expressed his commitment, saying, “I have a lot of experience and dedication to this community and just hope that I can do a good job.” His recommendation comes ahead of the 30-day legislative session in Santa Fe, scheduled to begin in five days.

This nomination occurred in the wake of House Minority Whip Greg Nibert’s resignation after he was appointed to Senate District 27. Nibert’s seat became vacant when Stuart Ingle, a Republican from Portales, resigned in October.

Under New Mexico law, when a legislator resigns, the county commissioners within the legislative district are required to submit a candidate for the governor’s consideration to serve until the next election. As District 59 is entirely within Chaves County, Hembree’s nomination will be the sole recommendation to the governor.

A Roswell resident for 19 years, Hembree, 50, is not only an experienced oil and gas attorney but also holds the position of president at the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico. His community involvement extends to serving as a member of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Board of Directors and as an adjunct professor of oil and gas law at the University of Washington and Lee School of Law in Virginia.

Hembree voiced his concerns over the potential negative impacts of certain legislation and administrative rules under consideration in Santa Fe on industries such as fossil fuels and agriculture, as well as on small businesses. “We provide so much for this state. It is so important for this state and this part of the state and it is under attack,” he stated.

He specifically mentioned proposed changes to the state’s oil and gas act and paid sick leave legislation. Additionally, Hembree criticized Governor Lujan Grisham’s use of a public health emergency to address gun violence and substance abuse in Bernalillo County, affirming his support for gun rights.

Hembree aims to follow in Nibert’s footsteps, particularly in pursuing legislation to limit the governor’s emergency powers, and expressed his desire to join the House Judiciary and Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committees. “I think with my experience in the oil and gas industry, I am qualified to step into those shoes and fill those roles during the 30-day session,” he remarked.

Moreover, Hembree plans to run for a full term this year and is currently gathering signatures for the June Republican primary ballot. When questioned about the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department, he acknowledged his need to gain more knowledge but stressed the importance of consulting experts on child protection legislation. “I don’t think anyone can do this job as a representative alone. I think they have to know who to talk to about legislation on bills to protect our children,” he said.

The commission’s decision followed a nearly two-hour meeting where they reviewed the qualifications of seven other candidates. These included Chaves County Treasurer Charlotte Andrade Gurule; business owner Steve Dodson; child welfare executive Kevin Berry; Jennifer Cole from the Roswell Independent School District; former city council candidate Christopher Hensley; farmer and businessman J. Shay Wagner; and immigration attorney Eli Luna.

Each applicant was given five minutes to address the commission and respond to questions. The discussion highlighted the diverse backgrounds and motivations of the candidates, ranging from Gurule’s experience in program development and grant writing to Berry’s commitment to child welfare and Cole’s focus on improving education outcomes.

With the primary election approaching, several candidates, including Gurule, Hembree, Wagner, Cole, and Hensley, confirmed their intentions to run for the seat, while Dodson and Berry indicated they were considering it. Luna, however, was not questioned about his plans. The meeting foreshadows a competitive primary race for the seat in June.

NM’s anti-gun AG Torrez declares war on ammo

In another extremist move, a coalition of Democrat attorneys general, including New Mexico’s Raúl Torrez, have issued a letter to the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, calling for an investigation into the sale of military-grade ammunition to civilians. 

The anti-ammo letter, signed by attorneys general from 20 states, including New York, California, and New Mexico, specifically addresses the manufacture and sale of “military-grade ammunition” at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. They want to ban it from civilian use. The group, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, contends that the availability of such “high-powered” ammunition in civilian markets has contributed to the escalating severity of mass shootings across the country.

However, this initiative has faced staunch opposition from gun rights supporters, arguing that a focus on banning specific types of ammunition is a misguided approach that infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. The Second Amendment clearly protects the right to bear arms, which implicitly includes access to various types of ammunition for such arms.

Raúl Torrez, in particular, has come under fire from pro-gun groups in his home state of New Mexico. These groups argue that his support for the letter contradicts the values of many New Mexicans who cherish their gun rights. They contend that the move is not only an overreach of government authority but also an ineffective solution to the issue of gun violence.

In contrast, gun rights advocates maintain that the focus should be on addressing the root causes of gun violence, such as mental health issues and societal factors, rather than imposing further restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. They argue that such measures only serve to penalize responsible gun owners while doing little to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms and ammunition illegally.

The debate is also colored by concerns about the role of government in regulating firearms. Critics of the initiative view it as a slippery slope that could lead to more extensive gun control measures. They fear that conceding ground on ammunition could pave the way for more restrictive laws that erode the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

The issue is further complicated by the involvement of federal funds in the production of this ammunition. The letter from the attorneys general points out that taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize the production of ammunition that is ultimately sold in civilian markets, raising questions about the appropriate use of public funds.

Dem NM House Speaker Martínez previews goals for upcoming session

In a revealing interview with the New Mexico Democrat Party’s Chair Jessica Velasquez for the Democrats’ “Blue Opiñon” newsletter, Speaker Javier Martínez shared his vision and expectations for the upcoming legislative session, along with his commentary on his party. The interview, available for viewing at this link, offered a glimpse into the priorities and challenges as seen by the Speaker.

Speaker Martínez proudly highlighted the supposed diversity of the NM Democrat Caucus leadership, claiming it to be “the most diverse in the country.” He noted the presence of many “young mothers” among the leadership.

Looking ahead under his leadership, Martínez emphasized his desire to maintain a “tone of civility” in the legislative process. He committed to avoid debating controversial bills in the early hours, stating, “We try our best not to debate controversial bills at three in the morning.” He says he expects the 2024 Legislative Session to be a “really productive session.”

As for the 2024 elections, Martínez confidently projected that the Democratic majority, currently holding 45 seats, is set to grow.

In terms of legislative priorities for the next session, Martínez outlined several key areas:

  • Education: He wants the creation of the “Tribal education trust fund” sponsored by state Rep. Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo)
  • Early Childhood Education: Martínez plans to build upon the existing fund, which is already spending billions on socialist taxpayer-funded “free” daycare.
  • “Climate Change”: He mentioned incentives for solar panels and electric vehicles, along with geothermal subsidies.
  • Public Safety: The Speaker stressed what he perceived to be the need for behavioral health funding to address “generations of divestment” and to “hold criminal actors accountable for their crimes.”
  • “Economic Diversification”: Martínez discussed expanding legal marijuana, opportunity investment funds, and addressing climate change.
  • “Gun Safety”: He expressed a firm stance to “tackle head-on” bills Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to snatch New Mexicans’ rights. 

Martínez ended the interview by emphasizing wanting to keep New Mexico to be a “safe space” to be a “transgender person, a transgender child, as well as abortion.” He said, “We are a very Catholic state,” but “we are also a place where women can access reproductive health care [abortion up-to-birth] and transgender children can live to be themselves.”

This interview provides a clear roadmap of the legislative and social issues that Speaker Martínez and the NM Democrat Caucus plan to address in the coming legislative session, as well as some key topics he aims to prioritize. 

Court proceedings begin in NM’s legal fight over governor’s emergency powers

On Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court was the stage for a major legal showdown, as it heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party of New Mexico (RPNM), joined by GOP state legislators, the National Rifle Association (NRA), former law enforcement officers, and private citizens. 

The lawsuit targets far-left anti-gun Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Secretary of the Department of Health Patrick M. Allen, accusing them of using public health orders to infringe upon New Mexicans’ Second Amendment rights via executive order.

Attorney Jessica Hernandez, representing the plaintiffs, challenged the governor’s emergency orders. She argued that these orders overstepped the bounds of emergency statutes, representing an invalid exercise of emergency power. Hernandez emphasized the concern of a single individual bypassing the legislature, having the authority to declare an emergency based on subjective and unspecified criteria, thereby making significant public policy and funding decisions.

Hernandez also pointed out that the public health order from the NM Health Secretary does not constitute an imminent threat. She argued that relying on data spanning over a decade does not establish an emergency but rather a chronic issue.

During the hearing, Justice Briana H. Zamora inquired about the limits of the governor’s power to declare public health emergencies. Holly Agajanian, the governor’s chief general counsel, admitted uncertainty, stating, “I don’t know.” This admission underscores the fear that such emergency powers could lead to future rights violations.

Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon reflected on the plaintiffs’ viewpoint, suggesting the potential for almost anything to be labeled a public health emergency from the governor’s perspective, although she failed to let Hernandez answer questions without consistently interrupting.

The justices posed several hypothetical scenarios, including one where the governor might declare an emergency to suspend driving rights due to DUIs, drawing parallels to the initial emergency order that suspended open and concealed carry of firearms. Agajanian differentiated, noting that the amended order no longer bans concealed and open carry.

The current public health order prohibits firearms in parks and playgrounds. However, Justice Michael E. Vigil observed that the emergency declarations lacked statistical evidence of gun violence issues in these areas.

Justice Zamora noted that many programs within the public health order could have been implemented without an emergency declaration, but the declaration facilitated funding. She expressed concerns about potential overreach through emergency orders, questioning the implications of granting unilateral power over fund allocation.

The lawsuit and the court’s eventual decision are poised to have significant implications for the balance of power in New Mexico and the interpretation of emergency powers in relation to constitutional rights.

WATCH

Woke diversity hire Haaland strikes again

The National Park Service, overseen by Joe Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a former member of Congress from New Mexico, and National Park Service Director Charles Sams III, has announced plans to remove the statue of William Penn from a park in Philadelphia. This park, established in 1982 to mark the 300th anniversary of Penn’s founding of Pennsylvania, stands on the site of his original home.

The park, near the Delaware River at Sansom and Second Streets, will undergo rehabilitation, including an expanded interpretation of Native American history in Philadelphia. This plan involves consultations with representatives from various indigenous nations.

The statue of Penn and a model of his original home are set to be removed as part of these changes. The Park Service indicates a future exhibit might mention Penn’s role in founding Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, but this is currently unfunded, per the Post Millennial.

The Strawbridge & Clothier “Seal of Confidence”, which flanks the entrance to the 1897 Renaissance Revival building designed by Addison Hutton on Market Street between N. 8th and 9th Streets in Center City, Philadelphia, just to the west of the 1931 Strawbridge & Clothier flagship building. The seal depicts William Penn and a Lenape Indian and their “never written, never broken” treaty, which enabled Penn to establish the colony of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia on land which belonged to the tribe. The seal stood for Strawbridge & Clotier’s Quaker-based tradition of fairness and honesty, which included a money-back guarantee on all merchandise. The seal was in use from 1911 until the company folded. (Source: “Buildings Then and Now: ‘Think Strawbridge & Clothier first'”).

The Park Service manages significant historical sites in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other important landmarks. The Biden administration has emphasized equity in its policies, a principle echoed in these changes.

The redesign of the park will be led by Venturi & Scott Brown Associates, the same firm that designed the original park. The park was initially named after Penn’s ship, Welcome, and celebrated his life and the establishment of Pennsylvania, known for its principles of religious and civil freedoms.

Penn, a Quaker and advocate for religious freedom, also played a role in the early abolitionist movement. However, his legacy has been scrutinized, particularly following the George Floyd protests, due to his history as a slave owner. This scrutiny aligns with a broader trend of re-evaluating historical figures’ legacies in public spaces.

In 2021, a bill proposed in the US House sought to remove statues of individuals who served the Confederate States of America from the Capitol, reflecting ongoing debates over how to represent historical figures in public spaces.

The public can provide feedback on this proposal through the National Park Service’s planning website found here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ 

NM’s conspiracy theorist Dems renew annual performative January 6 theater

On Saturday — the third anniversary of the January 6 incursion of the U.S. Capitol — New Mexico’s Democrat conspiracy theorists outdid themselves with manufactured outrage after the event, which resulted in the death of Ashli Babbitt, whom a Capitol Police Officer brutally murdered.

Democrat Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-CD-3) inaccurately claimed an “armed mob” stormed the Capitol, which was not true, as a vast majority of protesters that day were not armed whatsoever.

“On this day three years ago — just my fourth day in Congress — an armed mob of Donald Trump’s supporters desecrated our beloved Capitol Building in a deadly attack on Congress and American democracy itself,” Leger Fernandez wrote, adding, “Trump will undoubtedly try to attack our democracy again.”

Far-left Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez (NM-CD-2) wrote in an email, “John, today marks the 3-year anniversary of a dark day in American history. On January 6, 2021, extremists launched an egregious attack on Capitol Hill and our democracy.” 

Extreme far-leftist Melanie Stansbury, representative for New Mexico’s First District, wrote on X, “Three years ago we watched Trump spark an insurrection. We saw our capital attacked by extremists and we saw our very Democracy shaken. Today is a reminder that our voice and our vote matter and in 2024 we must defeat Trump.”

Socialist Sen. Martin Heinrich appeared to say January 6 was worse than horrific terrorist attacks, such as September 11, 2001, writing, “Three years ago, I witnessed the most foundationally shaking moment of my adult life. It is a sobering reminder that even our great democracy is vulnerable to those willing to hold on to power at all costs. That day, democracy prevailed. We must work to make sure it always does.” 

“Our Democracy isn’t given. We have to work to protect it. Three years ago this was proven. We all have the sacred responsibility of honoring the outcome of our elections. Those who do not must be held accountable,” wrote Sen. Ben Ray Luján.

The New Mexico Democrat Party added, “Even three years after the January 6th, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, NM Republicans are still beholden to insurrectionist MAGA ideology. Despite being largely rejected by the voters ever since the insurrection, New Mexico Republicans and their prominent figureheads refuse to respect our democracy.”

The Party continued, “New Mexican voters spoke loud and clear in the 2022 election and rejected Trump’s radical brand of extremism. But the New Mexico Republican Party continues to put Trump’s MAGA agenda ahead of the needs of everyday New Mexicans.” 

Unconstitutional Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wrote, “As we celebrate the 112th anniversary of statehood, we are also reminded of the duty we all have in upholding democracy. The acts of insurrection on Jan. 6 have no place in the United States. As governor, I commit to safeguarding democracy today and for generations to come,” despite unilaterally taking away New Mexicans’ gun rights via executive order — the opposite of “democracy.” 

Note: Not a single individual has been convicted for the charge of “insurrection,” while Democrats attempt to pursue “insurrection” charges to forcibly thwart President Trump from the ballot in 2024. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear the case on the matter. 

Member of NM House GOP leadership tapped for open state Senate seat

In a recent development within New Mexico’s political landscape, Greg Nibert, a Republican and a member of the State House since 2017 and the House Minority Whip since 2023, has been appointed to the State Senate.

Sen. Greg Nibert’s official photograph.

This appointment, announced on January 5, comes from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and fills the vacancy in Senate District 27. This seat was left open following the retirement of Republican Senator Stuart Ingle in October.

Senate District 27, which Nibert will now represent, is situated around the Roswell area. This move to the Senate marks a significant shift in Nibert’s political career, offering him a broader platform and increased responsibilities within the state’s legislative framework.

As Nibert transitions to the Senate for the 2024 legislative session, his departure from the House of Representatives triggers a need for a replacement. The process to fill his now-vacant House seat is set to commence, overseen by the Chaves County Commission alone, as his former House district only covers one county. 

The upcoming legislative session will likely be an important period for Nibert as he adjusts to his new role and tackles the challenges and opportunities that come with being a state senator. 

As the process of finding Nibert’s successor in the House begins, attention will also be paid to how this change affects the balance and dynamics within the New Mexico legislature. However, the Chaves County Commission must work fast to name Nibert’s successor, as the 2024 Legislative Session begins on January 16.

It is immediately unclear who the potential candidates are to replace Nibert in the minority whip position following his promotion to the Senate.

MLG looks to squander away NM’s revenue on growing gov’t in budget ask

On Thursday, far-left Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham unveiled her FY25 executive budget recommendation, featuring a massive 9.9% increase in recurring spending, totaling $10.5 billion, calling out-of-control spending “historic – but prudent.”

The executive budget recommendation aims to spend away New Mexico’s record revenue, mainly from oil and gas production, while maintaining reserves at 34.2%. Many argue that such a substantial increase in spending may jeopardize the promised reserve levels, prompting questions about the state’s financial stability.

In the realm of water and natural resources, the budget proposes a $500 million capital appropriation for the Strategic Water Supply from severance tax bonds, a $250 million general fund transfer to the Land of Enchantment Conservation Fund, and $20 million for low-interest loans to communities for carbon emission reduction projects.

For housing and homelessness, the proposal includes $250 million for the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund, $250 million to the NM Finance Authority Opportunity Enterprise Revolving Fund for affordable housing, and $40 million for homelessness initiatives statewide.

Education funding sees allocations of $33 million for expanding universal socialist early pre-kindergarten, a $101.2 million increase to the State Equalization Guarantee Distribution, $58.1 million for structured literacy (including $30 million for a new Structured Literacy Institute), $43.5 million for school meals, and a three percent pay increase ($96 million) for all educators.

In the healthcare sector, the proposal includes $2.15 billion in recurring general funds for the Health Care Authority, $100 million for the Rural Healthcare Delivery Fund, $87.9 million for Medicaid provider rate increases, and $24.7 million to create a new Family Services division — more bureaucracy. 

Public safety allocations comprise $35 million for corrections and law enforcement recruitment statewide, $5 million for the Governor’s Commission on Organized Crime, and $35 million for the Firefighter and EMT Recruitment Fund.

Economic Development & Infrastructure funding includes $100 million to launch the New Mexico Match Fund for federal funding leverage, $25 million for the Local Economic Development Act Program (LEDA), $9.7 million for the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), $5 million for the New Mexico Media Academy, and $1.5 million special funding for the Economic Development Department’s international market reach.

The executive budget also includes a 3% compensation increase for state employees, a further bolstering of the state instead of cuts of unnecessary boards, agencies, divisions, and departments. 

Power The Future’s Larry Behrens commented following the announcement, “With a massive amount of new money delivered from the state’s oil and natural gas workers, Governor Lujan Grisham has another opportunity to give some of that money to families through rebates. New Mexicans are paying 17 percent more for everything over the last three years and deserve to share in the state’s oil and gas revenue windfall. Unfortunately, Governor Lujan Grisham’s budget priority is to take the money and grow more bureaucracy in Santa Fe.”

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