Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Albuquerque retired teacher and ultramarathon runner Tim Walsh said Wednesday he was entering New Mexico’s 2022 gubernatorial race, becoming the fourth Republican to announce plans to challenge Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Walsh, 74, previously worked as an education adviser to former Gov. Gary Johnson and described himself as cut from the same political cloth as the ex-governor, a Republican-turned-Libertarian, who was a political neophyte when first elected in 1994.
“I’m not an insider,” Walsh told the Journal. “I’m not a (political) party individual.”
If elected, Walsh said. he would push to overhaul the state’s public pension funds to a 401(k) model to address unfunded liabilities and do away with the state’s high-profile film incentive program.
He also said he would push to eliminate the Rail Runner commuter train and the state’s involvement in Spaceport America, both legacies of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.
But those ideas could encounter fierce opposition in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, as lawmakers voted in 2019 to lift an annual cap on film incentive spending.
A North Dakota native, Walsh has worked for the Mayo Clinic’s business office and as a city councilor in Minnesota.
He has also worked in recent years for Trident Tuition Funds, a scholarship program affiliated with the National Navy SEAL Museum.
Walsh described education issues as “close to his heart” and said that if elected governor, he would push for a universal school voucher program, which could draw opposition from teacher unions.
Crime rates in Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico were also cited as a top priority by Walsh, who expressed opposition to a 2016 bail overhaul amendment that critics say has allowed for the release of violent and dangerous offenders.
Backers of the bail changes have said they are working as intended, saying most people released pending trial show up for subsequent court hearings and are not committing new crimes.
“I’d like to see this state grow in a positive manner,” said Walsh, who added his Cabinet would include a mix of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and independents.
The three other Republicans who have previously announced campaigns for the 2022 gubernatorial race are Greg Zanetti of Albuquerque, Jay Block of Rio Rancho and Karen Bedonie of Farmington.
Lujan Grisham, who was elected governor in 2018 and is seeking a new four-year term, is the only Democrat currently running.