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SANTA FE – An Albuquerque pastor has once again waded into New Mexico’s gubernatorial race, saying in a recent sermon that Republican Mark Ronchetti had publicly misrepresented a previous discussion between the two of them about abortion.
Specifically, Steve Smothermon, senior pastor of Legacy Church, cited Ronchetti’s remarks during an Oct. 17 televised debate when the GOP candidate was asked about whether he had previously told the pastor his goal would be to “end abortion in New Mexico.”
“You’d have to ask Pastor Smothermon that, but I told him everything I’ve told everybody else in this (race),” Ronchetti said during the debate. “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.”
He also said he has never called for a complete abortion ban, an assertion he has also made in interviews.
But Smothermon appeared to dispute that in his recent sermon, in which he also insisted he had not betrayed Ronchetti since the church’s vetting of candidates is not intended to be confidential.
“Folks, I assure you, he told me exactly what I said. Exactly. But he got on TV and said he didn’t,” Smothermon said in the sermon.
“It doesn’t matter what we say we believe, it matters what we do and that determines what we believe,” he added.
Abortion has emerged as a hot-button issue in this year’s race for governor between Ronchetti and Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic incumbent.
Lujan Grisham, who is seeking reelection to a second term, opposes limiting abortion rights and pushed lawmakers last year to repeal a long-dormant 1969 state law that banned abortion in most situations.
That law likely could 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.
Amid the national debate, 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 has also said statewide voters should decide the issue via a constitutional amendment that would require legislative approval.
However, Smothermon told his massive congregation in July that Ronchetti believes pushing for a total ban would keep him from getting elected, so he’s starting with a
less expansive proposal.
“His goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico, just so you know,” Smothermon said at the time. “You say, how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.”
In a subsequent statement, however, Smothermon said his remarks weren’t intended to convey what Ronchetti would do in office and that Ronchetti’s private remarks to him were not at odds with his campaign stance.
Smothermon has also been critical of Lujan Grisham, calling her a “murderer” and “reprobate” in his recent sermon for her stance on abortion.
With the Nov. 8 general election nearing, former President Donald Trump endorsed Ronchetti on Monday in a post on the social media site Truth Social.
In response, Ronchetti campaign spokesman Ryan Sabel cited Ronchetti’s support from other political figures, including former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.