First it was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in August. Then Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in September. This week, New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti hosted Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at two campaign events, leaving some wondering: What else does Ronchetti have in the bag as Election Day draws near?
The Youngkin endorsement is a big feather in Ronchetti’s cap. Both are political outsiders in states struggling to find sanity amid increasingly partisan rifts over COVID, Critical Race Theory, and Abortion. But even bigger, Youngkin’s trek signals that national party leaders have more than a passing interest in the New Mexico governor’s race.
Also this week, Ronchetti kicked a leg out from under third-party candidate Karen Bedonie with an endorsement from former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who ran the state from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican before running unsuccessfully for president as a Libertarian in 2012 and 2016.
Bedonie is little more than a nuisance. The Libertarian state party treasurer recently tweeted that their candidates are polling at 4-5% even without campaigning or fundraising, meaning Bedonie has virtually 0% support personally, but by virtue of not being part of the two-party system she may attract some disaffected votes. Johnson’s endorsement of Ronchetti seals her fate as an also-ran.
Grisham, meanwhile, seems to be taking the “Biden in the Basement” approach to campaigning. Her events are pass-through photo opps at best. Other than local endorsements around the state and a visit from former Democrat Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, no national figures have come out on her behalf. With some of the worst rankings in the nation on crime, education, and the economy, big-name Democrats haven’t shown much interest mingling their political fortunes with the governor. If it weren’t for abortion and legalizing marijuana, she wouldn’t have much to campaign on at all.
A recent poll from Cygnal showed Ronchetti within 1.8 points of incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, 44.4% to 46.2%, with Bedonie at 4.5% and 4.9% undecided. The automated survey of 400 likely voters has a 4.9% margin of error.
To keep turning heads, Ronchetti needs to keep getting headlines. These big endorsements help.
Categories: 2022 Governor's Race