On June 3, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham made it official that she is running for a second 4-year term. Protesters showed up and yelled into bullhorns. Some criticized her response to the COVID-19 pandemic while still others held anti-vaccination signs while at least one protester held a sign that compared Lujan Grisham to Adolf Hitler.
The Governor’s announcement speech was very short and she said:
“I’m sorry that we picked the same location that the QAnon lizard people meeting was at. … We’re gonna protect New Mexico and no amount of noise will deter, intimidate or create a vacuum in leadership. That makes a difference for every single New Mexican this day, and every day.”
Every governor since then has won a second term.
Links to related news coverage are here:
FIRST POLL SINCE ANNOUNCEMENT
On June 30, KOB 4 published the results of the first poll taken on the Governor’s approval rating. The report was prepared by KOB 4 reporter Chris Ramirez. Below is the Channel 4 news report followed by links to the news story and poll data:
KOB 4 partnered with the non-partisan polling company Survey USA to gauge New Mexicans’ opinions on a variety of important issues, including the governor’s job performance.
New Mexicans were asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Michelle Lujan Grisham is doing as governor of New Mexico?
• Approve- 50%
• Disapprove- 32%
• Not sure- 18%
The governor scores the highest with people living in urban environments. She did particularly well in Doña Ana County and with adults ages 50-64.
People who identify as Democrats gave the governor an 80% approval rating.
She scored low with conservatives, people making more than $80,000 and Hispanics.
UNM political science professor Lonna Atkeson dived into the numbers.
“They (Hispanics) are a very important constituency to the Democratic Party, and it is critical for them to support the governor,” she said.
KOB 4 also asked New Mexicans how they feel the governor handled key issues.
• The coronavirus- 59% approval
• The economy- 49% approval
• Crime- 40% approval
• Policing issues- 40% approval
Atkeson believes the low public safety scores are a vulnerable spot for the governor’s re-election bid…
“On coronavirus, she is just really high in approval, but on crime, she doesn’t have approval above 50 percent,” Atkeson said. “It’s telling me that there are all these specific issues and people are saying I’m really on coronavirus, but I’m not so high on these other things and that is what is pushing her down and creating so much uncertainty. “
The link to the Channel 4 news story is here:
The link to the full poll is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In 2018 when elected to her first 4 year term, Michelle Lujan Grisham won with 57.2% of the vote (398,368) to 42.8% of the vote (298,091) cast for Steve Pearce. A more than 100,000 margin in votes is a blowout win.
A 50% overall approval rating and a 32% disapproval rating should not be surprising at this point in time for a Governor that has shown real leadership making difficult decisions and who has been very effective in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The 59% approval rating dealing with the pandemic and the 49% approval rating dealing with the economy in all likely will increase as the state begins to reopen and things get back to normal.
Low approval ratings of 40% in both crime and policing issues is what Governors’ and Mayors’ across the country are dealing with as violent crime is a national trend. However, Governor Lujan Grisham has not totally ignored the issue and in fact has gotten behind legislation to deal with the issue, something that will be fleshed out as her bid for a second term gains full speed in the months ahead.
The one constituency that the Governor appears to need to work on is her 47% approval rating among Hispanics. 30% of Hispanics disapprove and 23% saying they were not sure of her job performance.
With an 80% approval rating from people who identify as Democrats, it is more likely than not Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will have no opposition in the Democratic primary, and if so, it will be weak at best.
NASTY REPUBLICAN OPPOSITION
The race for New Mexico governor is a year and a half away. Two Republican candidates have announced their bid and have already gone negative.
SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSIONER JAY BLOCK
On April 18, 2021 Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block announced he running for the Republican nomination for governor. Block, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 21 years the Air Force and moved to Rio Rancho in 2015. Block has aligned himself with former President Donald Trump. In his announcement he said he is in favor of defunding abortion services and restoring qualified immunity for police officers.
In his announcement video Block said:
“This is a movement of shared values. … It’s time Michelle Lujan Grisham is out of office so we can start a new era of prosperity for New Mexicans.”
Block has already gotten nasty with his remarks about the Governor when he said:
“Michelle is proud of where New Mexico stands today. Michelle is proud New Mexico ranks last in education. Michelle is proud New Mexico ranks first in child poverty.”
On June 14, Republican Greg Zanetti announced his campaign. Zanetti is a former Bernalillo County Republican Chairman and a former New Mexico National Guard Brigadier General who now works in the business of wealth management. He has said in the past that he does not intend to get vaccinated for covid. With respect to the Governor, Zanetti had this to say:
“We had this autocratic governor come down and impose all these rules where we shut down businesses, locked down the kids, we shut the state down, and as the facts changed and we learned more about COVID, she didn’t adjust.”
Surprisingly, Republican conservative Zanetti is distancing himself from Der Führer of his party and former president Donald Trump and said:
“This isn’t about Donald Trump. It’s not about one person, it’s about a bigger message.”
Ostensibly, Zanetti did not get the memo from New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pierce that the Republican Party in the state and nationally are very much in lock step with Trump.
Former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” learned the hard way when she crossed Trump by not endorsing him. On May 26, 2015, appearing at a campaign rally in Albuquerque, Der Führer Trump unleashed a blistering assault on the former Republican Governor who skipped the event, by saying she was “not doing the job.” Trump faulted her by falsely asserting she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the state, and blamed her for Albuquerque’s unemployment numbers as well as the increase in the number of New Mexico residents on food stamps.