New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is in a tight race with Republican Mark Ronchetti, and her continuous attempts to cast her opponent as an “extremist” reveals a level of discomfort with her re-election odds.
MLG is the seventh-least popular governor in the country. Crime is rising, with Albuquerque in particular heading for its fourth homicide record in three years. During COVID, she locked down businesses and schools, fined churches and restaurants, mandated vaccines for workers, and even banned children from attending the state fair without proof of vaccination.
It’s no wonder polls show the race a statistical tie.
During a campaign rally with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this weekend, Ronchetti proved that the incumbent’s rhetoric accusing him of being an “extremist” and a “white nationalist” sympathizer who wants to “attack women’s rights” and “defund the police” is just that: rhetoric.
In contrast to the governor’s histrionics, Ronchetti laid out a clear case for change in New Mexico.
He talked about family, and why he decided to run for governor.
“For our family, we felt like if we can carry forward your voice, and if you can bring your voice along with us, we will do something that will shock the country and the state of New Mexico when we take our state back.”
He talked about Grisham’s failures as governor, from being last in education to rising crime. He talked about human trafficking and drugs coming across the border from Mexico, and the governor’s decision to pull out state National Guard troops. And he brought a message of change for New Mexico families.
“We can do it better,” Ronchetti said, “and we will.”
He vowed to end catch and release and support police officers, from the state and county down to individual municipalities, providing both respect and resources, because “they are heroes.”
And he made a promise: “Your safety is my first priority.”
On education, Ronchetti lamented New Mexico’s last-place education rank and expressed his belief that parents and school boards, not government bureaucrats, should decide what’s taught in schools. “What we’re doing is not working,” Ronchetti said. While he is opposed to cutting education spending, he does support allowing parents to decide what school they can attend. “We will give you that power.”
On energy Ronchetti pointed out, as he has time and time again on the campaign trail, that New Mexico “is part of the cleanest, most efficient oil industry in the world.” He wants to keep it that way, a contrast from Grisham’s position of ending New Mexico oil and gas in the name of climate change.
While Grisham has overseen a 35% increase in government spending since taking office in 2019–and 14% this last legislative session alone–he wants New Mexico families, not the government, to have a slice of that pie.
Ronchetti has proposed an oil and gas rebate program similar to the one in Alaska, where residents are cut a check every year based on oil revenue. Ronchetti’s plan is to give $100 back to every New Mexican for every $1 billion in oil revenue generated. Based on current revenue, he said, a family of four would receive $2,000 per year.
“Remember, the state of New Mexico has a government that has never been bigger, and has never been richer. Are you feeling that benefit?”
“People create prosperity,” Ronchetti said, “not government.”
If all of this sounds like common-sense policy positions that a majority of New Mexicans would be insane not to support, that’s because it is. The vitriol of his opponent says more about her fear of losing–and the state of the race–than it does about Ronchetti’s actual priorities as governor.
Grisham’s attacks on Ronchetti have been continuous and passionate, but the content of those attacks lack accuracy. Ever mainstream local media have called out Grisham for falsely accusing Ronchetti of wanting to “defund the police.” Such claims were blatantly false, and the media fact-checked her for that. But Grisham’s attacks on Ronchetti’s abortion stance are equally false.
While Grisham calls Ronchetti “an anti-choice extremist” whose “plan all along” has been to “ban abortion,” Ronchetti’s position is much more nuanced. His self-described “middle-ground” on abortion is forcing Grisham to outright lie about Ronchetti’s position.
Ronchetti has repeatedly stated that state law should align with the values of the majority of New Mexicans, not that Republicans should push through policies that a vocal Conservative minority support. Grisham can’t admit that her position advocating abortion without constraints, including up-to-birth abortions–which are legal in the state–run counter to most people’s views on the issue. The vast majority of Americans supports limiting abortion after the first trimester, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother–which is exactly what Ronchetti has proposed.
Grisham is campaigning on easily debunked lies, while Ronchetti has consistently campaigned against Grisham’s actual record as governor. It’s no wonder she’s nervous.
According to SourceNM, their journalist Shaun Griswold was denied access to the Ronchetti/DeSantis rally “because of a critical article I published weeks ago” (according to Axios’ Russell Contreras, it may have been racially motivated, as Griswold is allegedly a “Native American” reporter).
The presumed article in question accused Ronchetti of failing “denounce violent extremist groups.”
Griswold didn’t write the article in question, but the rationale for denying SourceNM access to the rally isn’t inaccurate.
According to The Albuquerque Journal, Ronchetti spokesman Enrique Knell said, “Source New Mexico was denied a credential because they are ‘a left-wing advocacy group, not a legitimate news organization.'”
We’ll leave it to readers to determine the accuracy of this statement. Their articles can be read here: https://sourcenm.com/
The “violent extremist groups” cited by SourceNM include the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. During a June radio interview, Ronchetti was asked about his position on these groups, to which he responded, “I have no idea what that is.”
When the host explained to Ronchetti that these were right-wing groups associated with January 6, Ronchetti responded thusly:
“Look, what we have right now in New Mexico — and we say this when we talk to groups all the time — we have a far-left in this country who seeks to demonize whoever they can. And this turns into one of these fights where we need to make sure that we get everybody pulling in the same direction.”—Ronchetti radio interview, June 2, 2022
This is Ronchetti’s response to the Santa Fe New Mexican‘s gubernatorial questionnaire when asked, “The national Republican Party calls the Jan. 6 takeover at the U.S. Capitol ‘legitimate political discourse.’ Do you agree?”
“There is a difference between protesting and violent riots. I believe in each and every person’s freedom of speech and right to protest. Regardless of political affiliation, legitimate political discourse crosses a line when there is destruction of property, breaking of our laws, or violence of any kind. It’s disappointing that some on the left are willing to support prosecution of rioters on January 6th, but defend those who burned down police stations and looted during the riots of last summer. When protestors of any political persuasion break the law and riot, they should be prosecuted.”—GOP gubernatorial candidate questionnaires, May 14, 2022
There are three reasons Ronchetti answered the way he did. One, like most Americans, he didn’t know who these groups were. Two, nobody cares. And three, it’s not objective journalism to throw out a name and criticize a candidate for not adequately denouncing the group in question. It doesn’t deserve any further response than what has already been said.
If SourceNM wrote the same piece asking Grisham about Black Lives Matter or Antifa, subtly accusing the governor of sympathizing with those who committed cold-blooded murder as a means to achieving partisan political ends, they might have a case for claiming to be objective. They didn’t.
There is nothing wrong with being partisan. The Conservative New Mexican is partisan. The difference is that we’re explicitly so.
As Andrew Breitbart once said, “feigned objectivity isn’t objectivity.”
Categories: 2022 Governor's Race