1st debate highlights stakes in New Mexico race for governor

Sep 30, 2022, 9:33 PM | Updated: 9:51 pm
FILE - Republican Mark Ronchetti addresses the crowd with his wife and two daughters after winning ...

FILE - Republican Mark Ronchetti addresses the crowd with his wife and two daughters after winning the Republican primary for governor of New Mexico, during an election party in northeast Albuquerque, N.M., June 7, 2022. Ronchetti is campaigning on a law-and-order platform with proposals for annual tax rebates tied to oilfield production and a referendum that could ban abortion with limited exceptions. (Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

(Chancey Bush/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican nominee for governor Mark Ronchetti sounded a rallying cry for residents who are dissatisfied with crime and public education in a live-broadcast debate Friday, while incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vowed to protect abortion access and defended her response to disasters and her approach to investments in social programs.

The two candidates clashed in their first televised debate of the campaign, on KOB 4, ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. Early voting begins Oct. 11.

Ronchetti painted a dire portrait of public safety conditions and economic prospects for small businesses, arguing that a windfall in state government income could be put to better use — including annual individual rebates linked to oil field production and education stipends to improve early literacy.

The former television meteorologist repeatedly asked viewers if they thought they were better off amid pressures of inflation, and whether they could feel the effects of the governor’s programs.

“Have you felt it in your bottom line? Do you look at things now and say, ‘yes, I can afford what I need to afford,'” Ronchetti said. “A lot of your programs are not making a difference for people on the ground.”

Lujan Grisham noted her administration already this year delivered cuts to taxes on sales and gross receipts, along with tax rebates of up to $1,500 per household, touting her ability to work with a Democrat-led Legislature.

“He says he proposes it, I already did it,” said Lujan Grisham, a former three-term congresswoman.

She urged the public to support and sustain new state spending in public education and college subsidies, arguing the small businesses crave a prepared workforce.

“We’ve invested billions of dollars into public school classrooms and to the pay raises for teachers and to expanded pre-K and daycare and … tuition-free higher education for thousands of New Mexicans,” the governor said. “The seeds are planted. Positive change is truly our destiny.”

Lujan Grisham, the state’s third consecutive Hispanic governor, used the debate to cast herself as a staunch defender of access to abortion.

In 2021, Lujan Grisham helped legislators repealed a dormant 1969 statute that had outlawed most abortion procedures as felonies.

“Because I’m governor, abortion is legal in the state of New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said. “As long as I’m governor, a woman’s constitutional right to privacy to make her own highly, deeply personal decisions about her health care and her family’s will stay legal.”

Ronchetti, who lost a 2020 bid for U.S. Senate to Democrat Ben Ray Luján, is advocating for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and risk to the physical health of the mother, suggesting that the Legislature schedule a statewide referendum on abortion restrictions.

“Everybody in the state of New Mexico should be able to vote on it and come up with something that fits our shared values,” said Ronchetti, describing the governor’s approach to abortion as extreme.

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

Recent Republican losses at the ballot box have locked the GOP out of all statewide elected offices and the state Supreme Court, as Democratic majorities lead in both chambers of the Legislature.

Still, the November election for governor will be a test of Democratic resolve as the state grapples with economic whiplash from the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about a violent crime surge in Albuquerque and beyond.

On issues of criminal justice, Ronchetti has pledged to back police officers by restoring immunity from prosecution to policing agencies, while railing against the state’s pretrial release system. A voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2016 made it harder to deny bail while defendants await trial.

“We have soft-on-crime judges and we still have catch-and-release,” said Ronchetti, vowing a new approach to judicial appointments. “If you think the system is broken, she is the head of the system.”

The GOP nominee also has pledged to deploy soldiers and police to the remote international border with Mexico to combat illegal migration and drug and human trafficking, in a plan echoing National Guard deployments by Republican governors in Arizona and Texas.

Lujan Grisham — also critical of the state’s bail system — this year signed legislation that boosts retention pay for municipal police and sheriff’s deputies, bestows million-dollar death benefits for relatives of police killed in the line of duty and expands intervention programs to rein in gun violence.

“We’re giving our police officers the raises and dignity they deserve, the professional development training, the tools to keep them safe, the equipment and vehicles, a new crime lab,” Lujan Grisham said.

Libertarian Party candidate for governor Karen Bedonie was not included in the debate.

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

AP

FILE - Oranges rot on the ground on Oct. 12, 2022, at Roy Petteway's Citrus and Cattle Farm after t...
Associated Press

USDA: Florida orange crop down 36% after twin hurricanes

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Production of oranges in Florida this season is forecast to be down 36% from earlier estimates, in part a reflection of twin hurricanes that battered growing regions, according to U.S. Agriculture Department figures released Friday. The latest forecast calls for about 18 million boxes of oranges to be produced in […]
13 hours ago
FILE - A JetBlue Airbus A320 taxis to a gate on Oct. 26, 2016, after landing, as an American Airlin...
Associated Press

American, JetBlue expand deal that US is trying to kill

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are pushing ahead with an expansion of their partnership in the Northeast, even as a federal judge considers the government’s attempt to kill the deal. The airlines said Friday that American will add six new routes from New York City while dropping one. JetBlue will […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Guyana opens bidding on 24 new offshore oil, gas blocks

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Guyana on Friday opened bidding on 14 new offshore oil and gas blocks, hoping to capitalize on interest in lucrative fields that are expected to make the South American nation a major oil producer. Guyana is home to one of the largest oil discoveries in the last decade. In 2019, two […]
13 hours ago
FILE - TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., is pictured on June 25, 2017. U.S. saf...
Associated Press

US reports another Takata air bag death, bringing toll to 33

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators and Honda Motor Co. are urging drivers once again to make sure their vehicles haven’t been recalled after another person was killed by an exploding Takata air bag. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that the person was killed in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord […]
13 hours ago
FILE - The Flint water plant tower is pictured on Jan. 6, 2022, in Flint, Mich. A judge dismissed c...
Associated Press

Flint water crisis charges dismissed against ex-Gov. Snyder

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the Flint water crisis, months after the state Supreme Court said indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid. Snyder, a Republican who left office in 2019, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. […]
13 hours ago
FILE - A person walks past the WTO Ministerial MC12 logo before the opening of the 12th Ministerial...
Associated Press

WTO rules against Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Trade Organization has rejected the 2018 import taxes that then-President Donald Trump imposed on foreign steel and aluminum, saying they violated global trade rules. Trump’s tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminum outraged America’s long-standing allies, including the European Union and Japan, because he relied on a […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
1st debate highlights stakes in New Mexico race for governor