Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – With her reelection matchup for November now officially set, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is launching her first big television ad splash of the general election cycle.
In one of two new TV ads that will start airing statewide on Tuesday, the Democratic incumbent enlists the help of former Bernalillo police chief Tom Romero to push back against criticism from Republican Mark Ronchetti on crime-related issues.
“Do you think a TV weatherman has any idea how to fight crime in New Mexico?” Romero says during the 30-second spot in a reference to Ronchetti’s former job as a KRQE-TV meteorologist.
The ad, which will air on network and cable channels, marks a new phase of this year’s race for governor. It could also provide a sneak peek into one of Lujan Grisham’s main lines of attack against Ronchetti – his lack of political experience.
In addition to criticizing Ronchetti, the new ad also features Romero touting Lujan Grisham’s actions as governor to increase funding for law enforcement officers – including a salary increase for State Police officers in this year’s budget – and stiffen criminal penalties.
Lujan Grisham signed a bill this year increasing the penalties for being a felon in possession of a firearm and brandishing a gun while committing a felony offense, among other criminal code changes, but her push to change the state’s pretrial detention system was largely rebuffed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Since taking office in 2019, the governor has called for more police officers in New Mexico. She also said in 2020 it was time to address the “ugly truth” of racism in core institutions, including law enforcement agencies.
On his way to comfortably winning a five-way GOP primary race last week, Ronchetti hammered the governor over her handling of crime, immigration and economic issues, describing her as a political elite who is more interested in keeping power than helping New Mexicans.
However, Lujan Grisham, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, entered the general election cycle with a hefty financial advantage over her Republican opponent, as the governor recently reported having $3.1 million in her reelection account.
Ronchetti had about $470,000 in his campaign account, after already having spent more than $2.3 million on TV ads and other expenses during the primary election cycle.
But he’s already received some outside help, as a political committee associated with the Republican Governor Association last week launched TV ads in New Mexico targeting Lujan Grisham.
Meanwhile, the governor’s other new TV ad features a nursing student at Clovis Community College who benefitted from the state’s Opportunity Scholarship, a program pushed by Lujan Grisham that covers tuition and fees for older students who go back to college.
The general election is set for Nov. 8, with Libertarian candidate Karen Bedonie appearing on the ballot in the governor’s race along with Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti.