Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign stay in New Mexico on Sunday will probably be worth watching for just two reasons: Hawaii is among the GOP’s best opportunities to flip a Democratic governorship. And the Republican nominee has gotten this far without help from Donald Trump.
Why it matters: New Mexico gets the largest share of Hispanic voters of any state in the united kingdom. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham happens to be the country’s only Latina governor. But she’s unpopular sufficient reason for Hispanic voters poised to keep their rightward shift, Republican Mark Ronchetti, a former TV meteorologist, is suddenly in play.
- He’s well positioned after soundly defeating several MAGA allies in the GOP primary. Real Clear Politics shows Lujan Grisham’s polling lead is at the margin of error.
- New Mexico has surpassed more traditional battlegrounds like Michigan and Pennsylvania on the GOP’s radar because of the nomination of weak Republican candidates in those states.
The intrigue: Ronchetti has kept his distance from Trump, who’s deeply unpopular in New Mexico, but is betting DeSantis is a popular surrogate.
- That is clearly a risky bet: Ronchetti is really a well-liked meteorologist and self-branded family man. DeSantis’ harder-edged rhetoric risk turning off some swing voters. Ronchetti will have to make an impression on independents and also some moderate Democrats to prevail.
What they’re saying: Ronchetti told Axios that Republicans can’t win in New Mexico with harsh rhetoric about Hispanics and must concentrate on issues like crime and the economy to make an impression on the state’s swing Latino voters.
- “We’ve plenty of conservatives in this state, that are wondering, ‘Can we create a movement to get this done?’ We are able to. But don’t venture out and start convinced that it is possible to exclude people in your party,” Ronchetti said.
The picture as a whole: Crime and public safety have emerged because the top issues in the campaign, in accordance with strategists mixed up in New Mexico race.
- This month, Lujan Grisham released an out-of-context campaign ad accusing Ronchetti of attempting to “defund the authorities” predicated on debate comments criticizing Lujan Grisham’s insufficient support for police. Ronchetti and the Republican Governors’ Association hit back by calling her attack an outright lie.
- The state’s Fraternal Order of Police, which hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race, criticized the Democrat for misrepresenting Ronchetti’s position.
Between your lines: Lujan Grisham has been beset with low approval ratings, staff upheaval and charges of hypocrisy.
- She initially drew praise on her behalf handling of the pandemic but sparked outrage when she wagged her finger at a press conference at residents who weren’t wearing masks.
- She was then slammed for buying jewelry after she ordered the closure of most nonessential businesses.
- Lujan Grisham once told a Democratic candidate to leave a lieutenant governor’s race over allegations of workplace harassment, and then later spend thousands to a former campaign staffer accusing her of sexual misconduct.
Multiple cabinet secretaries in the state’s education, health insurance and youth services departments have resigned or been fired in her four years in office as staff complained concerning the toxic environment of her administration.
Another side: David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, said Republicans’ claim they might flip New Mexico is “more bluster than substance.”
- He said the DGA committed $2.5 million to greatly help Lujan Grisham in-may, plus they expect her to win re-election.
- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham hasn’t experienced a stronger position for re-election her campaign has recently raised a monumental $7.8 million up to now,” Dominic Gabello, senior campaign adviser to the governor’s re-election campaign, told Axios.
Remember: Ronchetti won a contested GOP primary without the support from Trump.
- Before he ran for Senate in 2019, he said: “I’m a Christian conservative who was previously a Republican before Orange One. I’m afraid which has taken part of my soul, and that is not returning.” As an applicant, his campaign later said he was joking.
- In 2020, Ronchetti came within six points of defeating Sen. Ben Ray Lujn (D-N.M.) even while President Biden carried New Mexico by 11 points. As a familiar face on New Mexico TV, he won over independent voters with a pragmatic campaign message.