Financial disclosures show Rebecca Dow is Mark Ronchetti’s only formidable opponent.
The just-released financial disclosure reports have all but closed the door on four of the six Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Records released this week show Mark Ronchetti more than doubled every other Republican candidate in campaign funding since October.
Despite a narrow delegate victory in the February pre-primary convention, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block posted a disappointing $119,000 in fundraising since October, compared to Greg Zanetti’s $169,000 and Rebecca Dow’s $751,000.
Six weeks after declaring himself the front-runner and calling on Ronchetti to drop out of the race, Block’s fundraising numbers all but guarantee his own departure. The question is when.
Zanetti faces the same fate. In January, Zanetti disseminated a push-poll showing that he was the only candidate who could beat incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. While both candidates have shown themselves to be capable leaders with appealing platforms, their inability to convert their message into dollars make it almost impossible to compete in this June’s GOP primary.
Zanetti has signaled he will continue campaigning to the primary, and Block has said that with continuous straw polls showing him as the favorite among Republican voters, he’s not going anywhere. State legislator Rebecca Dow’s $751,0 haul unofficially makes this a two-person race.
The fundraising shows it, the betting odds back it up, and the party knows it.
But winning a party nomination is little more than personal bragging rights if the nominee can’t make it to the governor’s mansion, and the current occupant has raised more than than every Republican candidate combined.
There is always a principled reason to continue rooting for “your guy” — or gal, in the case of Dow, or even Karen Bedonie and Ethal Maharg — but there’s little hope for any of these eventual also-rans if they can’t garner the donor support to blanket the state with their message.
In a more sane time, Grisham wouldn’t stand a chance against any of the Republican candidates. Despite her uplifting rhetoric, the record shows she has been a disaster for the state. Unfortunately, Democrats are living in a fantasy world of anti-Trumpian delusions that makes them more concerned about saving face for bad votes (coughcoughBiden) than facing reality.
That’s evident in the numbers. Grisham is sitting on a $5 million war chest, and we’re still six months from the general election.
Much as we’re loathe to admit it, funding is a good bellwether of election results, and Grisham is ahead.
For Republicans, fighting to the bitter end in an all-but-decided race will hurt the eventual nominee financially and in the general election; it will split fundraising between six candidates and sow intra-party divisions between now and June that forces Republican voters into camps they may not be able to leave once the nominee is chosen.
No candidate who wants a better New Mexico can say that any of the Republican candidates would be worse than Grisham. And yet the next several months will be a mud-slinging contest to tear down the one man who oddsmakers and donors are confident will take the nomination.
It is still early, and staying in the race doesn’t mean the campaign needs to be a blood bath. We’ve yet to see a prime time TV debate. The campaigns are all sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. There are dozens of events, speeches, and news articles yet to be seen by voters. Anything can happen.
But if the goal is to oust Grisham, the candidates who see the writing on the wall need to be careful about forcing their supporters into an all-or-nothing commitment.
At The Conservative New Mexican, we’ve been critical of Ronchetti’s campaign style, in part because it deserves criticism, and in part because criticism provides the opportunity to improve. We would like to see Ronchetti come out with clear policy proposals and a realistic plan to get the Democrat-controlled legislature on board. But at a certain point, we have to accept reality for what it is. Ronchetti’s campaign strategy is smart. His biggest asset is his face and the name recognition that comes with being a well-known weatherman.
Like it or not, that strategy is working. His fundraising proves it. His opponents see it, and so do Republican voters.
We have no doubt that Block and Zanetti and Bedonie and Maharg all want what’s best for the state. But at a certain point they need to understand that the majority of voters don’t necessarily think it’s them. By continuing to battle against the eventual nominee, they may be doing more harm to New Mexico by staying in the race than they would be lending their support for the man who can make an actual run at the governor’s mansion.
Block said after the financial disclosures came out, “I’ve been in combat. I’m not surrendering.” It’s that passion that was part of the reason we’ve supported his campaign. But as the fourth-place finisher in fundraising, Block needs to understand that the person he’s battling isn’t the real enemy, and by fighting against the presumed nominee, he, and Zanetti, and Bedonie, and Maharg, and even Dow, are only helping Michelle Lujan Grisham.