During the one and only televised debate between candidates running for the New Mexico GOP gubernatorial nomination, anti-abortion advocate
used her candidate-to-candidate question to ask frontrunner Mark Ronchetti, a former weatherman, about his lack of political experience.
“I am the candidate with the most experience. You have none. You have money, but that’s all you have. I can communicate with the people of New Mexico, and you cannot. Why are you not supporting me?”— Ethal Maharg, KOAT debate
It’s a fair question.
Ronchetti hasn’t created jobs as a weatherman. He has never been elected to political office — though he did run for U.S. Senate in 2020, losing to Ben Ray Lujan by 6%.
Ronchetti knows it’s a weakness, and his response to the question is hard to argue.
“We have leadership in Michelle Lujan Grisham and Joe Biden that have that political experience that you all seem to tout so often. And what has it gotten us? Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 25 years of experience has been absolutely devastating for the state of New Mexico. We have crime that’s out of control, we have issues with getting good jobs into this state, and we have a president in President Biden who has been absolutely incompetent in every area of this job.
So I’m sorry if I don’t have the ultimate respect for political experience here. But it’s absolutely critical to get someone without these deep ties to politics to start to change things in this state.”— Mark Ronchetti, KOAT debate
He said virtually the same thing when asked about political experience by The Albuquerque Journal: “Tell me what the experience has gotten us. Especially right now in Santa Fe.”
But the interesting part about Maharg’s question wasn’t its content so much as its delivery.
Maharg asked the question in Spanish.
What appeared to be a bilingual flex — or a gotcha question intended to force the big White guy in the debate to ask for a translation in a state where the majority of residents are Hispanic—turned out to be an opportunity for Ronchetti to connect with the very people Maharg claims she alone can “communicate with.”
While Ronchetti didn’t answer the question in Spanish — which was probably smart, considering it would cut out English-only speakers from the conversation — he proved to know enough Spanish to understand the question and respond.
He answered confidently with a point few can argue against. New Mexico is, by almost every measure, a failing state, and its cohorts of career politicians haven’t managed to change that.
We’re left wondering whether or not Maharg knew Ronchetti spoke Spanish. If she assumed he didn’t (because he’s White), the question would have made him look like a foreigner in his own land.
On the other hand, if she knew he spoke Spanish, was her question intended to carve out a niche among Spanish-only speakers, or was it discretely intended to help Ronchetti among that voting bloc? — because, if they were watching, that was the effect.
Conspiracy Corner is a recurring column that
reads between the lines of news events in New Mexico.
The insinuations made herein may not be true, but they might not be false.