GOP taps veteran broadcaster for New Mexico gubernatorial race | Texas News
By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press
SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Republicans have chosen a veteran television broadcaster to take on New Mexico’s incumbent Democratic governor, naming former network weatherman Mark Ronchetti over his promises to rein in state spending, strengthen the police and unleash an already record oil production.
Ronchetti won by a wide margin in a five-candidate field that included state Representative Rebecca Dow, a prominent voice among Republicans in the Legislature.
The GOP candidate, a family man joined on the victory stage by his wife and school-aged daughters, pledged to support police by restoring immunity from prosecution and blasted Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for a long suspension from in-person instruction and student proficiency testing during the pandemic.
“Now our children are even further behind, and she has no intention of catching up with them,” Ronchetti said. “Every at-risk child deserves to know they have a chance with a great education.”
It added a swipe at new social studies standards that increase teaching tied to racial and social identity in a heavily Latino and Native American state.
“We will 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 of the population claims Hispanic ethnicity.
Elsewhere, the Democratic nomination for attorney general went to Raúl Torrez, second-term attorney for Albuquerque and its outskirts.
He beat State Auditor Brian Colón to enter an open race against Republican attorney and U.S. Navy veteran Jeremy Michael Gay of Gallup.
New Mexico has alternated between Democratic and Republican governors since the early 1980s. An incumbent governor last lost re-election in 1994.
The November election for governor of New Mexico will be a test of Democratic resolve in an oil-producing region with lingering undercurrents of Catholicism and a strong culture of gun ownership.
In 2020, the GOP flipped a congressional district along the US border with Mexico with the election of US Republican Yvette Herrell, a staunch 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 the Republican governors of Arizona and Texas.
In a nod to his days as a television personality, Ronchetti made a few jokes on the victory scene. He ridiculed the Governor for his lavish public spending at the Governor’s Mansion on premium beef and liquor, contrasting this with his own offering of fries, 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 New Mexico’s recorded history. President Joe Biden is due to discuss relief efforts during a visit scheduled for Saturday in Santa Fe.
An incumbent governor hasn’t lost an election since 1994. And Republicans failed in a series of statewide elections, ceding control of every elected office statewide to the Democrats, including the five-seat state Supreme Court.
Since taking office in 2019, Lujan Grisham and the Democratic-led Legislature have passed reforms to ensure abortion access, expand government oversight of guns and expand police accountability by lifting immunity from wrongful prosecution.
The outgoing governor has respected the environment with climate change initiatives that curb methane pollution from oil infrastructure, phase out coal-fired power plants and mandate new investment in renewable energy without restricting oil production. Last year, New Mexico overtook North Dakota in 2021 to become the nation’s second-largest oil producer behind Texas.
Lujan Grisham tapped a boost in state government revenue to secure teacher raises, provide free college education to state students, expand preschool and bolster Medicaid coverage in a state with low poverty rates. are high.
In response to inflation, the state sends installment 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 to Mexico, who served as a district attorney before winning an open race to succeed Governor Bill Richardson.
First-term congressmen were seeking re-election in New Mexico’s three congressional districts, with no major challengers.
In New Mexico’s southern 2nd District, Las Cruces Councilman Gabe Vasquez won the Democratic nomination to challenge Herrell. He defeated rural doctor Darshan Patel.
In the 1st District which includes most of Albuquerque and rural southern communities, the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Representative 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 United States Secretary of the Interior.
In other statewide races, former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer, beating the former magistrate judge and treasury official. Heather Benavidez. Montoya will face former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya in an open race to replace State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg.
The Democratic nomination for state auditor went to utility regulator Joseph Maestas, an elected member of the Public Regulatory Commission. He will face libertarian written candidate Robert Vaillancourt in a general election without a Republican candidate.
In state legislative races, state Rep. Roger Montoya de Velarde was ousted in the Democratic primary by Joseph Sanchez d’Alcalde, who gave up the seat in 2020 to run unsuccessfully for Congress.
AP writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed from Albuquerque.
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