On Tuesday, February 1, candidates for federal and state offices filed their required paperwork with the New Secretary of State’s Office to seek their respective party nomination on the June 7 primary election. On the June 7 primary ballot will be the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor , Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Auditor and all 3 of New Mexico’s Congressional races with newly drawn congressional districts.
This blog article is a report on those who have been identified as qualifying for the June primary.
Not surprising, only incumbent Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham filed for the Democratic nomination for Governor seeking her second term. However, the number of candidates running for the New Mexico “Der Führer” Republican Party nomination went from 7 to 5 candidates.
DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM
Governor Lujan Grisham (61) was born and raised in New Mexico. Lujan Grisham previously served as the U.S. representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district from 2013 to 2019. Lujan Grisham served as the state Secretary of Health from 2004 to 2007 and as Bernalillo County commissioner from 2010 to 2012. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. In 2016, Lujan Grisham was selected as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She won the Democratic nomination for governor of New Mexico in 2018 and defeated Republican Steve Pearce on November 6, 2018 in a landslide.
Lujan Grisham’s priorities during her first term have been dealing with the Corona Virus pandemic, public education reform, funding from K thorough 12 and college education funding, rebuilding the state’s mental health care system destroyed by her predecessor, creation of the “Early Childhood Department”, revitalization and funding of the “Children Youth and Family Department”, increase funding for law enforcement to deal with crime and enactment of anti crime measures just to mention a few.
THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR
Virtually all 5 of the Republican candidates for Governor are right wing conservatives. All 5 have the same philosophy of government as former President Trump and State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pierce. Those filing for the New Mexico “Der Führer” Trump Republican Party nomination for Governor are the following 5:
1. FORMER KRQE METEOROLOGIST MARK RONCHETTI
On October 27, TV Personality and KRQE weatherman Mark Ronchetti announced he is running for Governor. Ronchetti ran for United States Senator in 2020 and lost to Ben Ray Lujan. Ronchetti has already hired Republican political consultant Jay McCleskey who is known for his slash and burn tactics and defamation of candidates. There is no doubt that Ronchetti knows New Mexico as long as it’s on a green screen. It’s likely an inaccurate forecast that he will be elected Governor with absolutely no knowledge as to how government works.
2. REPUBLICAN NEW MEXICO STATE REPRESENTATIVE REBECCA DOW
On July 7, three term Republican State Representative Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences announced that she is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. In her announcement, she vowed to address “hard truths” related to the state’s high unemployment rate, low education rankings and chronic child welfare issues. She is a former early child care professional. Dow in her announcement immediately attacked Governor Lujan Grisham and described the governor as a “power hungry” career politician whose policies have hurt New Mexico and said:
“As a state, we have never experienced more dire conditions than we are currently struggling through right now.”
One hard truth that Dow no doubt wants to forget about is that on January 13, 2022 it was reported that the ethics charges filed against Dow with the New Mexico Ethics Commission are going forward after “probable cause” was found to support the allegations that Dow violated state laws on financial disclosure and governmental conduct.
According to District Court pleadings filed, the New Mexico Ethics Commission last year subpoenaed Dow’s financial records and scheduled her deposition which is allowed under the law. Dow contested the agency’s demand for her sworn testimony. The Ethics Commission went to court to enforce the subpoena. The ethics commission secured a court order from State District Court Judge James T. Martin of the 3rd Judicial District compelling Dow to produce the financial documents and appear for her deposition. Dow refused to comply with the court order, did not produce the financial documents and failed to appear for her scheduled deposition. The Ethics Commission went back to court to get a court order.
In August, State District Court Judge James T. Martin issued another order finding Dow in Contempt of Court and making findings that Dow violated the earlier court order by failing to appear at a scheduled deposition and not producing financial documents that had been subpoenaed by the Ethics Commission. Judge Martin found that the failure to produce the documents and to appear for the deposition “lacks a justification.” Judge Martin ordered fines of $50 a day until she complied with the court order for a deposition. According to the court filings, Dow paid $4,115. The amount paid included reimbursing the State Ethics Commission for costs incurred when she did not appear at the scheduled deposition.
The link to full Albuquerque Journal article is here:
3. FORMER REPUBLICAN BERNALILLO COUNTY CHAIR AND FINANCIAL ADVISER GREG ZANETTI
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.”
Zanetti has said in the past that he does not intend to get vaccinated for covid and has yet to say if he has since been vaccinated. On February 2, it was reported that U.S. soldiers who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine will be immediately discharged, saying the move was critical to maintain combat readiness. The Army’s order applies to regular Army soldiers, active-duty Army reservists and cadets unless they have approved or pending exemptions. All of the U.S. military services have now begun disciplinary actions and discharges for troops who have refused to get the mandated coronavirus vaccine with as many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces at risk of being removed from service. Former Brigadier General Zanetti needs to disclose it he would have carried out orders to have his troops vaccinated or be discharged from the New Mexico National Guard.
With respect to Governor Lujan Grisahm, 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 trying to distance himself from Der Führer 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 Der Führer Trump.
It is so damn laughable that Zanetti calls Lujan Grisham an “autocratic governor” who imposes and enforces rules. Zanetti is a retired New Mexico National Guard Brigadier General and he will likely bring his personal version of being an “autocratic governor” to Santa Fe. Brigadier General’s give out orders and demand that those orders be followed or suffer the consequences.
The biggest perception that Zanetti is going to find difficult to overcome is that it is very doubtful to believe that a “wealth manager” will understand the needs and concerns of the average New Mexican, many which live in poverty and live pay check to pay check on the minimum wage, something Zanetti opposes to increasing.
4. REPUBLICAN SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSIONER JAY BLOCK
On April 18, 2021 Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block announced he is running for the Republican nomination for Governor. Block is a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 21 years in the Air Force and moved to Rio Rancho in 2015. Block has fully aligned himself with former President Der Führer Donald Trump, even though Trump has disparaged the military and called those who served and died in World War II losers. 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 got downright 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.”
What Block is very ignorant about is exactly why New Mexico ranks last in education and first in child poverty. Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham inherited both from her Republican predecessor Susana Martinez. Over 8 years, Martinez destroyed the state’s public education system resulting in the land mark decision Yazzie vs Martinez mandating sweeping reforms now costing millions to repair our public education system. Martinez made cuts in child care assistant programs with the cuts making things even worse for children living in poverty.
Yazzie v Martinez was brought by a coalition of parents, students, lawmakers and others in 2014 and charged New Mexico had not done enough to address the needs of Native Americans, English-language learners, disabled and low-income students and that children were deprived the constitutional right to a basic education. As a result of the State Court ruling, the 2019 legislature approved a whopping $3.2 Billion public education budget, a 16% increase over the previous year’s budget, out of the total state budget of $7 Billion. Included in the budget was a $500 million in additional funding for K-12 education and increases in teacher pay. The 2022 legislature is increasing funding for education and teacher pay even more and by millions. In particular more than $70 million in spending is pending in the 2022 session to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those students.
Under former Republican Governor Susana Martinez, the Children’s, Youth and Family’s Department budgets were slashed, hundreds of social worker positions that dealt with child abuse cases went unfilled, abused children fell through the cracks and youth programs were eliminated that acted as a safety net, all for the cause of resisting tax increases which Republicans always oppose even for critical essential services. Republicans always advocate the slashing of budgets and reducing the size of government to avoid any and all tax increases, even if for essential services.
A major priority of Governor Lujan Grisham was the creation of a new “Early Childhood Department” that commenced on January 1, 2020. The new department focuses state resources on children from birth to 5 years of age. A major goal of the new department, coupled with other investments, will be more New Mexico children growing up to secure gainful employment as adults who don’t require government services.
Block should not be “proud”, to use his word, when he makes a fool of himself on the issues of child education and child welfare issues, things he knows absolutely nothing about.
5. REPUBLICAN ANTI-ABORTION ACTIVIST ETHEL ROSE MAHARG
To quote Maharg’s web page promoting her candidacy for Governor:
“Ethel Rose Maharg is running for Governor to breathe life into New Mexico. Ethel is pro-life, without exception, from conception to natural death. And, she wears it like a badge of honor, it is who she is. Ethel believes in LIFE. Ethel believes that to breathe LIFE into New Mexico we must capitalize on our strengths. No one wants to bring a new business with good jobs to a state where politicians and elected officials complain about being at the top of the bad lists. It’s time for bold leadership. Bold leadership that is willing to make the right decision, not the popular or political decision. Bold leadership that understands the challenges everyday New Mexicans face. Bold leadership that will fight everyday for New Mexico. Bold leadership that will breathe LIFE into New Mexico.”
It is more likely than not that the United States Supreme Court will reverse in June the landmark case of Roe v. Wade setting aside a woman’s right to choose and leaving it up to the individual states to decide the issue. Last year, the New Mexico legislature repealed the New Mexico law making abortion a crime. If Roe v. Wade is in fact reversed, you can expect a Governor Ethel Maharg to advocate making abortion a crime in New Mexico and providing “bold leadership” back into the dark ages of woman’s rights and not caring if abortions are performed with a coat hanger, which should be her campaign lapel pin.
STATE PARTY CHAIRS REACT TO GOVERNOR CANDIDATES
New Mexico Der Führer” Trump Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce, who lost to Governor Lujan Grisham four years ago in a landslide, said any of the Republican candidates can beat Lujan Grisham in the November 8 general election and said:
“This governor has damaged New Mexico’s economy, its businesses and its education system. … We need strong conservative leadership, and we are confident that we will see a Republican in the governor’s office next year.”
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Jessica Velasquez said Lujan Grisham is in strong position to win reelection and had this to say:
“None of the GOP candidates for governor have a plan to lead New Mexico and instead of offering up concrete policy proposals, they continue to pander to extremists with empty rhetoric.”
OTHER OFFICE FILINGS
The other offices on the June primary are as follows:
Democrat Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, and educator, is the only Democrat who filed for Lieutenant Governor seeking a second term. He and Governor Lujan Grisham will run as a team ticket.
Democrat Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, 43, was born and raised in New Mexico and is from Silver City. Morales was an educator at Grant County public schools before entering politics. From 1995 to 2000, Morales was a special education teacher in Silver City. From 2000 to 2005, he was the special education and transition coordinator for the Cobre School District. Morales was later an educator/administrator at Gila Regional Medical Center. Morales is a long-serving volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Grant County.
As a State Senator, Morales served in the New Mexico Legislature on the Legislative Finance Committee for 11 years. Morales sponsored legislation to create a universal, state-level single-payer healthcare system for New Mexico.
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR LUIUTENANT GOVERNOR
There are 3 Republicans identified as running for the nomination of Lieutenant Governor and they are:
1. Former Republican Land Commissioner Pat Lyons.
Pat Lyons is a former chairman and commissioner of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. During his 2003-2011 tenure as Land Commissioner, Lyons faced criticism after he orchestrated a swap of 7,205 acres of state trust land in White Peak, an area highly valued by hunters, for 3,330 acres of a fellow rancher’s land. Sportsmen roundly criticized the deal, pointing out that it put prime hunting land off-limits, and after the state attorney general investigated, the Supreme Court ruled the swap illegal in 2010. A 2010 audit by the New Mexico Auditor’s Office found that Lyons’ Land Office had mismanaged or wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer funds. In his 2018 campaign for another term as Commissioner of Public Lands, Lyons used a list of Land Office lessees from his time in office to solicit donations from them, which drew allegations that such appeals invited the risk of special favors to lessees Lyons would be in charge of regulating if he were elected. A significant portion of Lyons’ campaign funding came from the oil and gas industry, and Chevron paid $2 million to a mostly oil-funded PAC that supports Lyons.
2. APS School Board two term member Peggy Muller Aragon
Muller-Aragon is a member of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education in New Mexico, representing District 2. Muller-Aragon assumed office in 2015. Muller-Aragon’s current term ends on December 31, 2023. Muller-Aragon ran in a special election to the U.S. House to represent New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. Muller-Aragon withdrew before the special Republican convention on March 27, 2021. Muller-Aragon was first elected to the school board on February 3, 2015, after defeating former incumbent Kathy Korte. Muller-Aragon was the target of a recall effort in September 2015, but the petition to recall her was withdrawn due to lack of legal representation. At issue was her participation in a unanimous vote to buyout former Superintendent Luis Valentino’s contract amidst a number of controversies. She was also accused of refusing to listen to her constituents and instead answering to New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
3. Former Doña Ana County Commissioner Isabella Solis.
Solis was elected as a Democrat to the District 4 seat on the county commission in 2016, but switched party affiliations and became a Republican in 2019, weeks after she lost a bid for Las Cruces mayor.
Two Democrat Candidates for Attorney General have filed and will be running against each other for the nomination. They are first term New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon and Second term Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez. Colon was elected Auditor to a 4-year term in 2016 and decided not to run for a second term while District Attorney Raul Torrez was elected to a second 4-year term in 2020.
Gallup-based attorney Jeremy Michael Gay is seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General.
There are 2 Democrats and 1 Republican seeking their party’s nominations for State Treasurer and the candidates are:
Democrat and former two term Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya, 44, is running State Treasurer to succeed Democrat State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg who is now in his second term and cannot run for reelection this year.
Democrat Heather Benavidez, a former municipal and magistrate judge who oversees state treasury programs including investment and savings accounts for people with disabilities. She has been endorsed by State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg.
Republican Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya is seeking the GOP nomination for State Treasurer.
There are two Democrats running for New Mexico State Auditor.
On June 20, 2021, Democrat Zack Quintero, 30, a UNM law school graduate, announced he is running for State Auditor. He is New Mexico’s State Ombudsman and he ran for Albuquerque City Council and narrowly lost the runoff in 2019 to incumbent Isaac Benton.
Democrat New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner,Joseph Maestas, 60, is also running for State Auditor. Maestas is serving on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission which will change from a 5 person elected commission to a 5 member governor-appointed board in 2023. Maestas has served on the Española City Council, as mayor of Española and as a Santa Fe city councilor. He lost a previous run for the Public Regulation Commission and an attempt three years ago to become Santa Fe’s mayor.
No Republican nor Independant has filed to run for State Auditor and therefore the winner of the Democratic Party nomination on June 6 will become the next State Auditor by default.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CANDIDATES
Those who have filed for New Mexico’s 3 Congressional seats are as follows:
Newly drawn Congressional District 1st covers much of the eastern party of Albuquerque, most of Rio Rancho, the East Mountains and a part of Roswell.
Democrat United States Representative Melanie Stansburyis running unopposed for her first full term. Stansbury is a former Albquerquerqu area state representative who replace congresswoman Debra Haaland when she was appointed Secretary of the Interior. Stanbury won a special election last June.
There are 4 Republican running to oppose Stansbury and they are:
1. Michelle Garcia Holmes who is a retired APD police officer. Garcia Holmes ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018 and lost a run for Congress in 2020 to Deb Haaland, before Haaland’s appointment as U.S. secretary of interior. She also ran for Mayor in 2017.
2. Louie Sanchez, a salesman and investor who first announce he was running for Governor and is now running for congress. Sanchez owns a firearms store and shooting range and is NOT the Albuquerque westside city councilor of the same name just elected to the City Council on November 2, 2021.
3. Nurse practitioner Jacquelyn Reeve.
4. City planner Joshua Taylor Neal also are seeking the GOP nomination in the First District.
District 2 was the entire southern New Mexico but was redrawn to include much of the Albuquerque West Side, South Valley and parts of the Barelas neighborhood in addition to southern parts of New Mexico.
Republican Representative Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo is unopposed for the New Mexico Der Führer Trump Republican Party nomination. She is a staunch supporter of “Der Führer” Trump and has yet to concede that President Joe Biden was elected in 2020.
Democrat Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez and Darshan Patel, a physician who works in Lea County, are seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.
District 3 was the entire northern portion of New Mexico but was redrawn to include stretches from Farmington and Santa Fe and into the conservative oil patch south east portions of New Mexico including Hobbs.
First term Democrat US Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez is unopposed in the primary.
The Republican candidates are Alexis Martinez Johnson, an oil and gas engineer living in Santa Fe, and Jerald Steve McFall, a farmer from Angel Fire.
Alexis Martinez Johnson lost to Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez two years ago. Republican Jerald Steve McFall lost to Democrat Ben Ray Lujan, Jr.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
With the candidates filing their necessary nominating petitions and filing of the necessary paper work for the June primary with the Secretary of State, the 2022 midterm elections have officially begun.
Select your candidates, get involved, donate if possible and please vote.