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Bernalillo County GOP at odds as losses mount

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Amid a recent losing streak, Bernalillo County Republicans are at odds over the direction of the party.

Some members of the county Republican Party central committee have recently sought to stage an intervention of sorts – and possibly vote to remove the current GOP county chairwoman.

But the party’s executive committee has ruled the dissenters have fallen short of the requirements needed to call a special meeting this week.

Bernalillo County GOP Chairwoman Julie Wright, who was elected to the post in January, said a state Republican Party rules committee was reviewing the matter but added the meeting would be invalid under the current ruling.

She also acknowledged some Republicans are angry after a recent string of election losses, including Democrat Melanie Stansbury easily winning last month’s race for an open Albuquerque-based congressional seat over a field that included GOP candidate Mark Moores.

However, she said the county party has limited sway in the outcome of such elections, adding, “As long as I’m chair, I’m going to do what I can to pull the party together.”

A letter to call the special meeting of the Bernalillo County GOP central committee was signed by nearly 60 members, though it’s unclear if all of them are in good standing with the party.

The purpose of the meeting is to address issues such as the “failure of current leadership” to win elections and craft a plan to get Republicans elected in the future. A motion to remove the chairwoman is also on the agenda if central committee members are unable to resolve the stated issues.

Internal party rules allow for a central committee meeting to be called by one-third or more members acting in unison, though party insiders say such meetings are typically called by elected officers.

One of those who signed the recent letter, former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, said Monday there’s need for better dialogue within the local Republican Party.

“I know there are people that are mad … but I don’t think it will even be considered,” Arnold-Jones said of the possible motion to remove Wright from her position as chairwoman.

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s state GOP issued a terse statement Monday saying simply that county-level parties have autonomy and the state party has “very little standing” in such matters.

The Bernalillo County GOP infighting comes as state Republican leaders are gearing up for a crucial 2022 election cycle in which statewide offices like governor, attorney general and secretary of state will all be on the ballot.

After big Democratic election gains in 2018 and 2020, only two Republican lawmakers from Albuquerque are still in office – Moores and Rep. Bill Rehm – out of more than 20 seats in the metro area.

Internal GOP divides have also emerged in other states, as some Republicans have faced criticism and even censure for not supporting former President Donald Trump and his claims of widespread voter fraud, which have been dismissed by most courts.

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