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

5 Republicans vie for governor in New Mexico primary

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican voters are choosing a nominee for New Mexico governor from a field of five candidates. The winner of Tuesday's GOP contest will take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as she seeks a second term after guiding New Mexico through the coronavirus pandemic with aggressive public health restrictions and a surge in state government spending linked to record-setting oil production. Former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and state Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences are prominent Republican contenders in a primary campaign for governor touching on concerns about U.S. border security, urban crime, education and economic recovery.

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

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man convicted in a 2009 double homicide case has been sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms. Prosecutors say 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 say 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.

'Viewpoint discrimination' case may head to Supreme Court

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — 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 says he was silenced in a discriminatory fashion after criticizing Griffin about the upkeep of a courthouse. Swanson's attorney confirmed the petition to the Supreme Court.

2022 midterms: What to watch in primaries in 7 states

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Primary elections in seven states Tuesday will set the stage for U.S. House and Senate battles this fall that will play into control of Congress. Many contests are being shaped by political divisions in both major parties — and the lingering shadow of former President Donald Trump. A string of Republican House incumbents are contending with challenges from the political right. Some challengers 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. The primaries are in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Water drop on fire crew in New Mexico prompts investigation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities say three firefighters battling the largest blaze burning in the U.S. were injured — one of them seriously — when a helicopter dropped part of a load of water on them. It happened last weekend in northern New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness. One member of the hotshot crew underwent several surgeries at an Albuquerque hospital to repair skull fractures and a broken kneecap. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed Friday that an investigation was ongoing. The blaze was the result of two government planned burns aimed at clearing the forest of overgrown and dead vegetation.

Biden to visit New Mexico as state battles record wildfire

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to travel to New Mexico to hear from state and federal officials as the largest wildfire in state history continues to burn outside Santa Fe. The White House says Biden will meet June 11 with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, first responders and personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The nearly two-month-old fire is 62% contained after charring roughly 495 square miles (1,282 square kilometers) in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe.

Florida man killed in Colorado avalanche identified

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a man who was killed in a rock fall and avalanche that also injured two other climbers at Rocky Mountain National Park. The Boulder County coroner's office identified the victim Friday as 25-year-old Christopher Clark, of Land O' Lakes, Florida. Two New Mexico climbers were injured in Sunday's avalanche. A helicopter crew on Tuesday lifted Clark's body from the avalanche zone on Mount Meeker, where rescuers worked in winter conditions in terrain above 11,500 feet at the site near Dreamweaver Couloir. Climbers in the area witnessed the slide.

Volcanic cones near peak sacred to tribes gain protection

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A national conservation group has acquired a sprawling ranch near a New Mexico mountain peak held sacred by Native American tribes. The Trust for Public Land announced Thursday that land managers will be able create New Mexico's largest state-owned recreation property, near Mount Taylor. The $34 million effort comes as state and federal officials look for opportunities to preserve more natural landscapes amid climate change. The property encompasses more than 84 square miles of grassland, volcanic cones, rugged mesas and part of the Mount Taylor Traditional Cultural Property, which is on the state register of historic places due to its significance to Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona.