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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A GOP U.S. senatorial candidate in New Mexico is joining top Republicans in Congress in rebuffing President Donald Trump's suggestions the 2020 elections be delayed. Mark Ronchetti's campaign manager Jeff Glassburner said Thursday the Albuquerque Republican does not support moving the election from November 3rd. Trump suggested the delay as he pushed unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic would result in fraud. The Republican Party of New Mexico, however, is defending Trump and said the president was only raising questions. Ronchetti is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján for an open Senate seat in New Mexico.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor authorities are approving unemployment benefits automatically for people who don't return to work because of their advanced age or for a variety of serious medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Workforce Solutions Department Secretary Bill McCamley on Thursday said people 65 and older and other "high-risk workers" should consider not returning to work immediately because of the COVID-19 pandemic. State health officials including New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have scheduled an update on the spread of the coronavirus and the state's response. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Mexico surpassed 20,000 this week.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Can a Latina running mate help Joe Biden win crossover votes and energize Democrats in November? The answer may rest with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The former congresswoman has led an unflinching response to COVID-19 in the nation's most Hispanic state. Biden has promised to run alongside a woman, and the allure of a Latina candidate is baked into the nation's shifting racial and ethnic demographics as the number of potential Hispanic voters is likely to eclipse the number of eligible Black voters by November. The pandemic has thrust Lujan Grisham into the national spotlight and life-and-death decisions.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Hispanic activist who demanded the state's largest university remove some Ethnic Studies classes is no longer a leader in the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group. The League of United Latin American Citizens New Mexico Director Fred Baca told The Associated Press that Ralph Arellanes was informed this week he won't be returning as the group's state executive director. Baca says Arellanes then resigned. Arellanes drew anger among LULAC members nationally last week after writing a letter to the president of the University of New Mexico and urging the school to remove any classes that teach that Spanish conquistadors committed genocide against Indigenous populations. 


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking to ease more rules for oil and gas drilling that were adopted under the Obama administration. The latest changes are projected to save energy companies more than $130 million over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposal would streamline requirements for measuring and reporting oil and gas produced from federal lands. Critics say the measure backtracks on rules meant to ensure companies drill responsibly and that the public gets paid for energy extracted from public lands. Drilling in the U.S. slowed dramatically when the coronavirus pandemic caused demand for fuel to drop, but is beginning to rebound.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man is facing charges after authorities say he became combative with police over a fear of snakes and tried to grab an officer's gun. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Nathaniel Ryan Ramirez was arrested Saturday following a disturbance at a Las Cruces gas station. According to police, Ramirez complained about snakes and claimed he was bitten. But officers say he had no bite marks. After he was taken into custody, police say Ramirez kicked an officer's vehicle then tried to grab the officer's gun. Ramirez was eventually taken to MountainView Regional Medical Center. It was not known if he had an attorney.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. government has set an execution date for the only Native American on federal death row. Lezmond Mitchell is scheduled to be put to death in late August. The Navajo man was among the first of a handful of inmates set to be executed after the Trump administration ended an informal 17-year moratorium. Mitchell temporarily was spared by a federal appeals court as his attorneys argued to interview jurors for potential racial bias. The court sided against Mitchell in late April. Mitchell was convicted of the 2001 murder of a Navajo woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say the state has 352 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bring the state's total to 20,136. The state Department of Health said Wednesday that six more people died from the virus and New Mexico's death total is now 632. There are 158 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in the state. In addition, there are 7,817 COVID-19 cases designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.