“A Stronger New Mexico”, a political action committee linked to the Democratic Governors Association, released a TV ad which asserts Republican candidate for Governor Mark Ronchetti “opposed a woman’s right to control her own body ‘at all stages’ and praised” the U.S. Supreme Court “for giving that power over women to politicians like him.” The ad claims “governors get power over abortion rights” with Roe v. Wade overturned.
The TV ad also links Ronchetti to a 2020 endorsement for US Senate from “National Right to Life”, the nation’s largest anti-abortion group, when it says “Extremists who’d outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest said he’s their choice for New Mexico, which makes Ronchetti the wrong choice for governor.”
Ronchetti first responded to the TV ad in a statement. In his statement, he called himself “pro-life”. He said after the Supreme Court ruling reversing Roe v. Wade and striking down a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, New Mexico should allow abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk. Ronchetti called his updated stance on abortion “a very reasonable position” that most in New Mexico will support regardless of party affiliation. Ronchetti said this:
“While I am pro-life, governors cannot act alone and any changes to our laws will require collaboration and agreement with the Legislature. … As governor, I would seek a middle ground.”
RONCHETTI RELEASES TV AD
In response to the “A Stronger New Mexico” TV ad, Ronchetti doubled downed and released his own rebuttal TV ad on abortion. The ad is entitled “You Deserve the Truth”. It has Ronchetti sitting on a leather couch, ostensibly in his home, wearing an open collar shirt and blue gens, as he speaks directly into the camera and “over articulating” his words, as he tends to do, and exposing his TV weatherman “bleached” white teeth. Ronchetti says this in the ad:
“You deserve to know where candidates stand and not be scared by false ads. … The governor supports abortion up to birth. … That’s extreme. … I’m personally pro-life, but I believe we can all come together on a policy that reflects our shared values. … We can end late-term abortion while protecting access to contraception and health care.”
The on-screen graphics say first that the governor supports abortion “up to moment of birth” and that she made New Mexico the “late-term abortion capital of U.S.” The ad goes on to say Ronchetti proposes banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to preserve the life of the mother.”
Interesting that Ronchetti did not have his two daughters sitting beside him as props as he has in previous commercials. It would be interesting to know what the Ronchetti daughters feel about having one of their constitutional rights taken away by the Supreme Court and if they agree with thier dad.
A fact check done by Channel News 4 of the ad revealed that the phrase “late-term” is not a medical designation. The CDC and New Mexico’s latest category for abortions is 21 weeks. Typical gestation for women is 40 weeks. Laurie Sobel of the Kaiser Family Foundation told Politifact in a recent abortion fact check “People cannot opt for an abortion instead of childbirth when they are full term”.
Numbers from the CDC and New Mexico Department of Health show abortions after 21 weeks account for 1% to 2% of such procedures. Reported data in 2019 differs for New Mexico when considering both sources. The CDC data, which puts New Mexico’s percentage at 11.6%, does not include about 12% of the abortions in New Mexico.
Links to quoted news sources are here:
LEGACY CHURCH PASTOR EXPOSES MARK RONCHETTI AS HYPOCRITE
Legacy Church located in Albuquerque is the a largest ecumenical congregation church in the state that has 6 campuses in Albuquerque. Very conservative Republican Pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon is its founder and its head pastor. Smothermon is a strong supporter of Mark Ronchetti and all things Republican. Smothermon is also outspoken critic of Governor Lujan Grisham, whom he has called “wicked and evil” and “demonic”. He got cross ways with Lujan Grisham during the pandemic when she ordered the closure of businesses and churches and imposed masked restrictions. Smothermon went so far as to defy the Governor and held church services in violation of the health care orders to the point that he and his church were cited and fined upwards of $10,000.
On Sunday, July 10, the very conservative Republican pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church during his Sunday church service, exposed Mark Ronchetti’s new moderate as nothing more than ruse to get elected. Ronchetti’s new stance on abortion is approving abortion for up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk. This is what Smothermon preached and said from his pulpit:
I know Mark Ronchetti came out, and some people are very upset, because he said I think [abortion] is reasonable up to 15 weeks. . . I know a lot of us got mad. I did too. I had a long talk with him for hours. I said, dude right out of the gate you blew it and he said here’s what I was trying to do. I know what you were trying to do but you didn’t do it and here’s what he said.
He said, ‘listen, I just want to start with getting rid of partial birth abortion in the whole state’–which we should be happy with–and he said ‘but I can’t just go in and do it 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said I just want to start but his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico. Just so you know.
How do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours and I said I won’t support anybody that believes in killing a baby ever. I don’t care how much you are right on other issues. That one issue is enough for me because if you don’t believe in life, something’s wrong.
The full video of the Smothemon sermon can be viewed with comments on Ronchetti starting at 27:10.
In an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican, Smothermon tried to backtrack and placed a positive spin on what he said from the pulpit about Ronchetti. Smothermon said this:
“Mark was clear with me that he is personally pro-life and what he intends to do as governor, which is identical to what he says in his campaign commercial. … My comments were not intended to convey his strategy as governor. … I believe Mark is committed to ending the terrible practice of late-term abortion in our state, a practice that the current governor sadly embraces.”
Ronchetti’s campaign spokesman Enrique Knell, while declining an interview with Ronchetti, was quick to respond with a statement in an attempt to explain Ronchetti’s position and distance Ronchetti from Smotherman. According to the statement:
“[Mark Ronchetti told Smothermon] exactly what he has told everyone else. … He wants to end late-term abortion in New Mexico by limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks. … His position has been clear and consistent. [Smothermon] is free to express his position on these issues”.
Knell also took a shot at Lujan Grisham, calling her an extremist who is “pushing abortion up to the moment of birth.”
The link to the quoted news source material is here:
GOVERNOR LUJAN GRISHAM’S REACTION AND HER ABORTION STAND
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham campaign was quick to seize upon Smothermon’s revelations and called Ronchetti a liar who is trying to trick voters to get elected. Kendall Witmer, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham’s campaign had this to say:
[“Ronchetti is] dangerous for women who depend on abortion health care. The rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies in New Mexico depends on reelecting Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.”
“Lujan Grisham told CNN recently New Mexico doesn’t have any restrictions on abortion, which she supports. There are no restrictions, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper, because “this is a privacy right and a personal decision between a woman and her doctor, and to interfere in any of these medical decisions creates … unknown, untold reductions in civil liberties for any number of individuals, including women’s access to contraceptives.”
The link to the quoted news source material is here:
In 2021, in anticipation of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Governor Lujan Grisham worked and lobbied the New Mexico legislature to repeal the state’s 1969 criminal law that made abortion a crime so that the state law could not become enforceable. In June, Lujan Grisham issued an executive order aimed at protecting patients and providers from lawsuits and arrest warrants filed in other states.
SMOTHERMON RECALLS 2013 CITY LATE TERM ABORTION INITIATIVE
Pastor Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church has an extensive history of being extremely political and attempting to sway his congregation to vote for Republican candidates at all levels of government, city, county and state, and conservative causes. His opposition to any and all abortions is well known.
During his July 10, 2022 sermon Smotherman told his congregation about his battle with former Albuquerque Republican Mayor Richard Berry over placing an anti-abortion late term abortion initiative on the 2013 city election ballot when Berry was running for a second term against Republican Paul Heh and Democrat Pete Dinelli. Smothermon said this about what happened in 2013:
“This church helped get petitions. We worked with groups to stop partial birth abortion in Albuquerque, and we lost the vote. . .We lost for two reasons. Number one–RJ Berry. You don’t ever hear his name anymore. Because I told him long after people forgot who you are, we will still be here loving our city. Because he was arrogant, and he’ll be known for two things–the (ART transit) debacle on Central because no one rides it. They ruined businesses. And then he’ll be known for this. We had all the signatures, we were going to get on the ballot when he was running for mayor, and he made sure it did not get on the ballot. It gave the opposition eight more weeks to spend millions of dollars and we lose.”
Republican political operative and campaign consultant Jay McCleskey is Mark Ronchetti’s political consultant for his race for Governor as was the case for his US Senate 2020 bid. McClesky is known for his negative slash-and-burn tactics to disparage and viciously malign Democrats and Republicans who get in his way. Jay McClesky has managed the successful campaigns of Republicans running for Governor, the state legislator, Mayor, and Alburquerque City Council.
McClesky is not above slandering people in order to win at any cost. A case in point is where Southern New Mexico rancher Scott Chandler settled a defamation lawsuit he filed against McCleskey for circulating two mailers about Chandler damaging his chances of winning a primary election for House District 32. The fliers referred to a 2013 New Mexico State Police investigation of Chandler’s Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program in Hillsboro, north of Deming. No criminal charges were ever filed as a result of the investigation. Chandler received legal settlements approaching $1 million from the state related to the investigation
Jay McClesky was Mayor Berry’s political consultant and ran his bid for a second term in 2013. Republican Richard Berry and Paul Heh, both made it known that they supported the late term abortion issue and would vote for it while lone Democrat Pete Dinelli opposed it. McClesky and Mayor Berry were fearful that an anti-abortion vote at the same time as the mayoral election would hurt Berry in the 2013 Mayor’s, and city hall political observers felt that was highly likely and that Dinelli would benefit.
In 2013, Republicans held the majority on the city council. The City Council, at Republican Berry’s insistence, voted to schedule the anti-abortion, late term abortion imitative in a separate election a month after the October 7 Mayor’s race election so it would not have any influence over the mayor’s race. The strategy worked. The late term abortion initiative failed six weeks later on a 55% to 45% vote with a heavy Democrat vote.
Republican Mayor Berry was elected to a second term in 2013 by a landslide in the lowest voter turnout election in the city’s history with only 19% of eligible voters voting with a higher Republican Party vote over the Democrat Party vote. Berry spent $1.1 million in private financing that included donations from Republican heavy weights such as the National Republican Party that donated $10,000 to Berry. Dinelli was seriously out spent having qualified for $330,000 in public fiancé.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
This whole story about Ronchetti and his changing stand on abortion can only be described as the epitome of “political hypocrisy”. This coming from a candidate who runs for office as an “outsider” an describes himself as an “anti-politician” who fights the “political elites”, but who confesses in private that he says one thing and intends to another once he is elected.
There is very little doubt that both Mark Ronchetti and Jay McClesky know the extent of political damage that has occurred because of Pastor Steven Smothermon’s attempt to influence the election. Mark Wrongchetti has been exposed by one of his very own supporters for the true hypocrite he is. Smothermon’s disclosures are proof that Ronchetti and McClesky are prepared to do anything to win an election at any cost, including lying to the general public on such thorny issues as abortion.
Governor Lujan Grisham can give her nemesis Steve Smothermon a big thank you as her campaign uses Smotherman’s so-called sermon in future ad campaigns. Lujan Grisham should also make Jay McClesky an issue in the campaign seeing as he will likely return as a strong arm and “shadow governor” as he was under Governor Susana Martinez should Ronchetti win.
As Media would say “Please give me a “HALLELUJER” and an “AMEN” for Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon!