Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Dow has been put on the defensive over her 2020 vote to issue stimulus checks to illegal immigrants, and her attempted defense of her vote proved as unprincipled and politically inept as the vote itself.
Responding to opponent Mark Ronchetti’s TV ad accusing her of “rewarding illegal immigration,” state legislator Dow claimed she had no choice in giving illegal immigrants stimulus money.
Dow says she and other Republicans had to vote on the bill as a whole, without the option to vote against payments for undocumented immigrants.
“We were in a complete shutdown,” she said, “and our focus was getting dollars to citizens, giving food to citizens, getting relief to citizens whose entire lives had been shut down and were sheltering in place.”
She said she opposes the payments and would have voted against them if there had been a separate vote.— “Ronchetti slams Dow for legislative voting record,” The Albuquerque Journal, May 4, 2022
As the Journal reports, HB1 passed by a vote of 58–11 — in a chamber that is nearly two-thirds majority Democrat — meaning that even if Dow voted against sending taxpayer money to illegals, it wouldn’t have mattered. The bill would have passed had she not shown up at all.
The problem with politics is optics. If Dow didn’t vote for the bill, she couldn’t go out bragging about “delivering for New Mexicans” or whatever the message was after the bill passed. She would have had to say, “I would have voted to give you back the money your government took from you, but I voted against the bill on principle, because it would have meant that some of your money would go to people who entered this country illegally and who didn’t contribute to the tax base.”
That may be too complicated for some voters, but it’s the principled position. Neither Dow nor any of the other Republicans “had to” vote for the bill as a whole. It would have passed without a single Republican vote, so why not take the principled stance, vote no, and demand a bill that didn’t give taxpayer money to non-taxpayers?
After all, it was Dow herself who once tweeted, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
Voting your conscience isn’t only principled, it’s also good politics, as Ronchetti proved.
He used Dow’s vote to damage her “strong on immigration” claims, and it worked. You can’t claim to oppose immigration if you give taxpayer money to illegals, and you can’t claim to be politically savvy if you play politics with a lesser-of-two-evils justification only to have your misguided attempt at consequentialism slingshot back at you in an ad that undermines the very moral convictions that serve as the foundation of your entire campaign.
The vote was a political miscalculation. The willingness to acquiesce was a failure of leadership. And the claim that she had no choice is just patently false.
If this is the mettle of New Mexico Conservatives, what exactly are we conserving?
Categories: 2022 Governor's Race