GOP taps seasoned broadcaster for New Mexico governor race

Jun 7, 2022, 11:22 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 1:15 pm
FILE - New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers the State of the State address during the 56...

FILE - New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers the State of the State address during the 56th legislative session Jan. 18, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Five Republican candidates are competing to take on Grisham. The incumbent is favored to keep her job in a state where Democrats control every statewide office and dominate the Legislature. (Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool, File)

(Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republicans picked a seasoned TV broadcaster to take on New Mexico’s incumbent Democratic governor, nominating former network meteorologist Mark Ronchetti on his pledges to rein in state spending, shore up policing and unleash already record-setting oil production.

Ronchetti won Tuesday’s primary by a wide margin in a field of five candidates that included state Rep. Rebecca Dow, a prominent voice among Republicans in the Legislature.

The GOP nominee, joined on the victory stage by his wife and school-aged daughters, pledged to back police officers by restoring immunity from prosecution and blasted Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for a lengthy suspension of in-person teaching and student proficiency testing during the pandemic.

“Now our children are even further behind, and she has no plan to catch them up,” Ronchetti said. “Every at-risk child deserves to know that they have a chance with a great education.”

He added a jab at new social studies standards that increase instruction related to racial and social identity in a heavily Latino and Native American state.

“We’ll focus on teaching them reading, writing, history, science and math. One thing we won’t teach them is how to hate each other,” Ronchetti said.

New Mexico is home to 23 federally recognized Native American tribes and nations, while nearly half the population claims Hispanic ethnicity.

Separately, the Democratic nomination for attorney general went to Raúl Torrez, a second-term district attorney for Albuquerque and its outskirts. He defeated State Auditor Brian Colón to vie in an open race against Republican attorney and U.S. Marine veteran Jeremy Michael Gay of Gallup.

Torrez has pledged to expand the state’s capacity and expertise to handle consumer-rights litigation. He has criticized some provisions of judicial reforms that limit the use of money bail in decisions about pre-trial release.

New Mexico has alternated between Democratic and Republican governors since the early 1980s. An incumbent governor last lost reelection in 1994.

The November election for New Mexico governor will be a test of Democratic resolve in an oil-producing region with a strong culture of gun ownership and evolving opinions on abortion access.

The GOP in 2020 flipped a congressional district along the U.S. border with Mexico with the election of Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a firm defender of former President Donald Trump.

Ronchetti has pledged to deploy 150 state law enforcement personnel to the remote international border with Mexico to combat illegal migration and drug and human trafficking. The proposal echoes National Guard deployments by Republican governors in Arizona and Texas.

In a nod to his days as a TV personality, Ronchetti cracked some jokes on the victory stage. He ridiculed the governor for what he called lavish public spending at the governor’s mansion on premium beef and liquor, contrasting that with his own offer of chips, salsa and a cash bar for supporters on election night.

Lujan Grisham spent much of Election Day surveying recent destruction from the largest wildfire in recorded New Mexico history. President Joe Biden is scheduled to discuss relief efforts during a planned visit Saturday to Santa Fe.

Republicans have faltered in a string of statewide elections, ceding control of every statewide elected office to Democrats, including the five-seat state Supreme Court.

Since taking office in 2019, Lujan Grisham and the Democratic-led Legislature have enacted reforms to ensure access to abortion, expand government oversight of guns and expand police accountability by lifting immunity from prosecution for misconduct.

The incumbent governor has walked a fine line on the environment with climate change initiatives that rein in methane pollution from oilfield infrastructure, phase out coal-fired power plants and mandate new renewable energy investments without restricting oil production. New Mexico last year surpassed North Dakota to become the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas.

Lujan Grisham has harnessed a surge in state government income to underwrite teacher raises, offer free college education to in-state students, expand preschool and bolster Medicaid coverage across a state with high rates of poverty.

In response to inflation, the state is sending out staggered payments of up to $1,500 per household between June and August.

New Mexico’s most recent Republican governor was Susana Martinez, an El Paso native with family ties in Mexico who served as a district attorney before winning an open race to succeed termed-out Gov. Bill Richardson.

First-term congresswomen were seeking reelection to New Mexico’s three congressional districts, without primary challengers.

In the 2nd District of southern New Mexico, Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez won the Democratic nomination to challenge Herrell. He defeated rural physician Darshan Patel.

In the 1st District that includes most of Albuquerque and rural communities to the south, the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury was won by former police Detective Michelle Garcia Holmes.

Holmes ran for the same congressional seat in 2020 and was defeated by Democrat Deb Haaland, now serving as U.S. Interior secretary.

In other statewide races, former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer, defeating former Magistrate Judge and Treasury official Heather Benavidez. Montoya will compete against former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya in an open race to replace termed out State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg.

The Democratic nomination for state auditor went to utilities regulator Joseph Maestas, an elected member of the Public Regulation Commission. He’ll confront Libertarian write-in candidate Robert Vaillancourt in a general election without a Republican contender.

In state legislative races, state Rep. Roger Montoya of Velarde was ousted in the Democratic primary by Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde, who gave up the seat in 2020 to run unsuccessfully for Congress.

About 25% of eligible voters participated in the primary, with higher turnout among registered Republicans.

___

AP writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed from Albuquerque.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

WHO panel says Monkeypox is not a global emergency ‘at this stage’

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency. In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic […]
19 hours ago
Police in riot gear surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona ...
Associated Press

Dueling narratives of Arizona protests ended with tear gas

PHOENIX (AP) — Protests outside the Arizona Capitol over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that ended with a volley of tear gas were variously described Saturday as either peaceful or driven by anarchists intent on destruction. Republican Senate President Karen Fann issued a news release describing it as a thwarted […]
19 hours ago
Emergency personnel look over the sight of a  helicopter that crashed in Blair, W.Va., on Thursday,...
Associated Press

West Virginia helicopter crash victims identified

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Medical examiners in West Virginia have released the names of six people killed in the crash of a Vietnam-era helicopter that gave tour rides. The aircraft crashed Wednesday during its last planned flight at an annual reunion for helicopter enthusiasts in Logan County. All six people aboard were killed. The state’s […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Army private’s plea shelved internet fantasy chat defense

NEW YORK (AP) — An Army private charged with plotting to murder members of his unit overseas with help from a secretive violent anarchist group was planning a defense calling it all an internet fantasy before pleading guilty just before trial, court records show. Plans for the defense of Ethan Phelan Melzer was revealed in […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Jury awards $21M to family of pregnant teen shot by police

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A federal jury awarded $21 million to the family of a pregnant teen who was shot and killed by undercover police officers in Northern California five years ago, attorneys said. Elena Mondragon was a passenger in a BMW pulling out of a Hayward apartment complex when an unmarked van filled […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

LAPD officer who died was beaten in training, mother claims

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles police officer who died of neck injuries suffered during training had been beaten by fellow officers in an exercise meant to “simulate a mob,” according to a wrongful-death claim filed against the city by his mother. Houston Tipping, 32, was hurt May 26 at the police academy and […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
GOP taps seasoned broadcaster for New Mexico governor race