On October 31, Halloween, former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of Mark Ronchetti for New Mexico Governor. Trump made the announcement early Monday Holloween morning on his “Truth Social” media platform and said this:
“New Mexico has an absolutely terrible Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham. She is WEAK on Crime, bad on the Border where illegal aliens are pouring into our Country at record numbers, & has almost no support from Law Enforcement, which fully understands what a disaster she has been. Also, Drugs & Human Trafficking are OUT OF CONTROL. The good news is that Republican Nominee Mark Ronchetti is outstanding. He will be tough & smart on Crime, the Border & everything else. Mark as my Total Endorsement!”
Ronchetti has received high-profile endorsements from former Vice President Mike Pence, Virgina Governor Glenn Youngkin and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with all 3 traveling to New Mexico to make their endorsements.
The Ronchetti campaign responded to Trump’s support in a statement and said this:
“Mark is supported by people from all walks of life and all different viewpoints – including Democratic sheriffs, former Libertarian presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and now former President Trump. With crime at record levels and just 1 in 5 students learning at grade level, it’s not hard to see that, as governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham has made things worse and New Mexico needs to go in a different – and better – direction.”
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham released the following statement in response to Trump’s endorsement:
“Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mark Ronchetti emphasizes the clear choice in this race: I will keep delivering on the issues that matter to New Mexico families, while Mark Ronchetti would bring Donald Trump’s extreme national Republican policies to New Mexico.
For the past four years, I have kept New Mexicans and their families at the heart of every decision I have made as governor. Together, we have made historic investments in public education and public safety, diversified and grown our economy, and expanded access to affordable health care. We are now the first state in the country to offer nearly universal child care and tuition-free higher education. We have a 14-year-low unemployment rate, have added 32,000 jobs in the last year, and have record surpluses supported by growing industries like clean energy, film, and cannabis. We are making strides in lowering the cost of healthcare and making every New Mexico community safer.
My opponent would set us backward. Mark Ronchetti has made it clear that he will bring a far-right Trump agenda to the Roundhouse. Like Donald Trump, he would attempt to drain funding from public schools, rip away health care from New Mexicans, and ban abortion in our state. On Election Day, New Mexicans will stand up to continue our progress and stop Donald Trump’s chosen candidate.”
Links to quoted news sources are here:
SMOTHERMON INSISTS RONCHETTI CONFESSED HE WOULD BAN ABORTION
Legacy Church Senior Pastor Steve Smothermon has for a second time exerted himself into the race for New Mexico Governor. On November 1, it was reported that Smothermon in a second Sunday sermon to his congregation is saying that Ronchetti publicly “misrepresented” a previous discussion between the 2 of them about abortion and that Ronchetti does indeed plan on banning all abortions in New Mexico if elected Governor.
Smothermon during a recent sermon cited Ronchetti’s remarks during the October 17 televised debate with Governor Lujan Grisham. Ronchetti was asked about whether he had previously told Smothermon his goal would be to “end abortion in New Mexico.” Ronchetti responded by saying this:
“You’d have to ask Pastor Smothermon that, but I told him everything I’ve told everybody else in this [race] and that is that I am pro-life, but I believe this is a very personal issue and we need to treat it as such.”
Ronchetti has also said in interviews he has never called for a complete abortion ban.
Smothermon in his recent sermon disputed Ronchetti and said the church’s vetting of candidates is not intended to be confidential. Smothermon told his congregation:
“Folks, I assure you, he told me exactly what I said. Exactly. But he got on TV and said he didn’t … It doesn’t matter what we say we believe, it matters what we do and that determines what we believe.”
In his recent sermon, Smothermon was as also very critical of Lujan Grisham. He called the governor a “murderer” and “reprobate” for her stance on abortion.
During his campaign, Ronchetti has called for abortion to be banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with allowable exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life is in jeopardy. He is also calling for a constitutional amendment for voters to decide if abortions should be banned that would require legislative approval.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for her part opposes limiting abortion rights. During the 2021 legislative session, she successively lobbied lawmakers last year to repeal a long-dormant 1969 state law that banned abortion in most situations.
That law would have been reimposed in New Mexico after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion and empowering states to set new restrictions. During the October 12 live debate on KOAT TV 7, the Govenor highlighted her signing of a bill that repealed New Mexico’s 1969 criminal abortion law outlawing abortions and she said:
“Women have a choice in New Mexico today because I’m governor”
The link to quoted news source material is here:
THE FIRST TIME RECALLED
It was on July 10, that the very conservative Republican pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church, during his Sunday church service, that Smothermon 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.
Ronchetti’s campaign spokesman Enrique Knell 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.”
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.”
The link to the quoted news source material is here:
EARLY VOTING TURN OUT
On October 27, it was reported that upwards of 12% of registered voters in New Mexico have already cast their ballots in the Nov. 8 election. More than 165,000 ballots have been cast so far, according to figures released by the Secretary of State’s Office. About 55% of those who have cast ballots so far are Democrats. Republicans had cast 33% of the votes and independents about 11%.
On October 29, the Albuquerque Journal released its second and final poll in the Governors race that revealed that Governor Lujan Grisham has an 8% lead over Make Ronchetti. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham polled at 50%, Republican Mark Ronchetti polled at 42%, Undecided polled at 5% and Libertarian Karen Bedonie polled at 3%.
Among the political parties, Governor MLJ has 87% support of Democrats while Rochetti has support of 9% of Democrat. Among Republicans, Ronchetti has 88% support among Republicans and Gov. MLG has 5% support of Republicans. Amongst Independents, Gov. MLG has 42% support while Ronchetti has 37% support.
The link to the final Albuquerque Journal poll article is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
You gotta wonder given the manner in which Der Führer Trump made his endorsement if Mark Ronchetti even knew it was going to happen and if he asked for it. Ronchetti has tried to distance himself from Trump during the campaign. Ronchetti once lampooned Trump during a public event at the University of New Mexico. Ronchetti said this at the event:
“I’m a Christian conservative who used to be a Republican until the “Orange One”. I’m afraid that has taken a part of my soul, and that’s not coming back.”
Ronchetti faced questions from other Republicans during this year’s primary race about his loyalty to Trump, with some GOP rivals citing Ronchetti’s referring to Trump as the “orange one” during a 2019 climate symposium. In response, Ronchetti’s campaign said the comments about Trump were “old jokes” taken out of context.
Given what Ronchetti said about Trump in public, his late endorsement of Ronchetti is very puzzling if not downright suspicious. Trump is known for going after Republican elected officials and candidates who do not support him, and New Mexico Republicans are no different. On May 25, 2016 appearing at a campaign rally in Albuquerque when he was running for President, Trump unleashed a blistering assault on then Republican Governor Susana Martinez who skipped the event. Martinez had been critical of Trump and refuse to endorse him for President expressing concerns about him. Trump attacked Republican Governor Susana Martinez saying she was “not doing her job.” At the time, Martinez was considered the most prominent Republican Hispanic woman in American politics and she was the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association. Trump faulted Martinez 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. “It’s your governor’s fault … We have to get your governor and get going. She’s got to do a better job, O.K.? Your governor has got to do a better job.”
It is painfully obvious that Ronchetti downplayed Der Führer Trump’s endorsement when his campaign said “Mark is supported by people from all walks of life and all different viewpoints – including Democratic sheriffs, former Libertarian presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and now former President Trump.” By mentioning Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians in the same breath, Ronchetti clumsily attempted a political pivot by trying to say he has a cross appeal, which he does not.
Simply put, Der Führer Trump’s endorsement has done Ronchetti far more harm than good and he should have rejected it if he did not ask for it. It’s very likely Ronchetti already has Trump supporters voting for him given the fact that the second and last Albuquerque Journal poll revealed that Ronchetti has 88% support among Republicans. In order for Ronchtti to prevail, he needed strong cross over votes from Democrats and Independents. The only thing the Trump endorsement has accomplished is to galvanize and motivate Democrats to get out and vote for Governor Lujan Grisham.
The Trump endorsement and Ronchetti’s failure to reject it makes the Albuquerque Journal look very foolish. Ronchetti sought to distance himself from Trump in some ways, saying in response to the Albuquerque Journal candidate questionnaire this fall that he does not believe Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. Least anyone forgets, on October 23, the Albuquerque Journal endorsed Mark Ronchetti for Governor as it trashed Governor Lujan Grisham. In its endorsement, the Journal editor’s wrote in part:
“New Mexico is at a crossroads … We simply cannot afford four more years of the same. … We could not do this if Ronchetti agreed with or even waffled over whether the 2020 election was stolen; unlike most Republicans in the 2022 general election, he answered a straight up “no” when asked if he believed former President Trump’s Big Lie.”
Der Führer Trump has made it clear repeatedly that he will not endorse Republican’s unless they buy into his big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Trump is also known to go after Repubican elected officials and candidates who do not support him as evidence by his attack on New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez. The Trump endorsement likely means that Ronchetti lied to the Journal over if he believes the 2020 election was stolen.
Republican pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon’s recent sermon disputing Ronchetti’s version of what he told Smothermon in private has again seriously harmed the Ronchetti campaign. With a pastor like Smothermon, you can be assured that nothing is sacred said to him in private, especially when it comes from lying politicians like Mark Ronchetti.
Given the fact that 55% of the 165,000 early votes cast so far are Democrats and that the Governor has 87% support of Democrats in Journal poll, it likely she already has a considerable lead in the race. It was reported only 33% of the votes cast are Republican with Ronchetti having 88% support among Republicans in the Journal poll.
Ronchetti’s acceptance of the Trump endorsement and his private confession to Pastor Steve Smother only confirms that Mark Ronchetti will say and do whatever it takes, even lie, to be elected Governor.