Desperate times call for desperate measures — especially in politics.
As New Mexico’s Republican gubernatorial primary closes in on next week’s primary, one soon-to-be “also ran” candidate is throwing literally everything at the wall hoping something sticks.
In a mailer sent out by the Rebecca Dow campaign, the state representative from Truth or Consequences accuses frontrunner Mark Ronchetti of crowning Donald Trump as “The stupidest man who’s ever lived,” calling for the former president’s impeachment, and claiming Trump “committed a felony.”
Dow’s source: a Twitter account run by what appears to be an Indian dentist from Rockville, Maryland.
“As proof to back the claims of its mailer, Dow’s campaign provided links to tweets from the Twitter handle @KRQEMark — Ronchetti used to be the chief meteorologist at KRQE-TV news — as well as tweets in which Ronchetti’s wife, Krysty, interacted with the account, including posting photos of the couple, over a four-year period ending Jan. 4, 2020.”— The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 29, 2022
In politics, it’s easy to cherry pick quotes or misrepresent votes to make your opponent look bad. But in this case, verifying the authenticity of the source material wasn’t particularly challenging.
Ronchetti has a verified Twitter account, @MarkRonchettiNM, with nearly 15,000 followers. During the timeframe in question, he was tweeting extensively about his campaign for U.S. Senate. Before and since that race (which he lost to Ben Ray Lujan), Ronchetti’s account has been focused on news (and weather) in New Mexico.
Across the social media pond, the @KRQEMark Twitter account garnered a following of…fourteen (14)…and tweeted for three months, between May and August 2020 (nothing since), about everything from U.S. politics to Indian actors, with a few tweets promoting “local dental offices”…in Rockville, Maryland.
(For the curious minds, read more about “45 years of Rajini” here.)
Ronchetti’s campaign explained the handle change pretty simply: Ronchetti announced his run for U.S. Senate on January 7, 2020. To maintain the appearance of objectivity, they agreed he would change his Twitter handle from @KRQEMark to something unaffiliated with the news station. Thus @MarkRonchettiNM was born. It was the same account (Twitter allows you to change your handle without losing followers or past tweets) but without the appearance of a major local news network’s partisan backing.
The next month, someone picked up the @KRQEMark handle. They began tweeting in May of 2020.
Only one of these two scenarios is possible: either Rebecca Dow’s campaign has the media literacy of a boomer on dial-up internet who thinks Ronchetti is a secret Indian dentist out of Maryland, or they’re lying.
As the mainstream media is wont to do, reporter Daniel Chacon’s article also discusses Ronchetti’s TV ad highlighting a 2015 molestation case at Dow’s daycare that resulted in a guilty plea by the perpetrator and a $260,000 settlement. But conflating the two “attacks” as equals in a routine campaign mudslinging fest is a mischaracterization at best.
One was well-documented in the media (despite successful efforts to seal the majority of official records), and the campaign published the available courts documents to back up the information it cited in the ad. The other attack is based on a social media account that clearly doesn’t belong to Ronchetti.
Dow’s response to Ronchetti’s ad was revealing. She accused Ronchetti of “re-victimizing” the child rape victim — an acknowledgement of the facts of the case — then denying any role in the situation beyond sitting on the board of the organizations in question, adding that Ronchetti’s “timeline and incidents described are factually inaccurate.”
In fact, they’re not, as we documented here: “Ronchetti Hits Dow on ‘Deeply Troubling’ Daycare Molestation Case”
If Dow plans to sue, as she insinuated — “I’m sure a judge will agree that Mark’s lies are dishonest and slanderous” — she better sue The Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Political Report (“State lawmaker settles lawsuit for $260,000”), and even The Connecticut Post — all of which reported the same information cited in Ronchetti’s ad.
“Hernandez worked for Dow when he molested one boy and raped another boy, both of whom were under his supervision while working for Dow. Hernandez pleaded guilty last year to two charges of sexual contact and criminal sexual penetration. He is currently serving a six-year sentence in the Otero County Prison Facility.
Dow runs both the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra County and AppleTree Educational Center in Truth or Consequences.”— NM Political Reporter, “Questions of what should be public in civil suit against House candidate,” October 10, 2016
Categories: 2022 Governor's Race