Trump backs Ronchetti in NM race for governor - Albuquerque Journal

Trump backs Ronchetti in NM race for governor

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Mesa, Ariz., in this Oct. 9 file photo. Trump endorsed New Mexico Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark Ronchetti in a social media post this week. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Mark Ronchetti for governor, the latest twist in a combative race that’s drawn increasing national attention in the run-up to next week’s Election Day.

In a Monday post on the social media site Truth Social, Trump criticized incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for being weak on crime and border enforcement issues.

In contrast, he said Ronchetti, a Republican, would be “tough & smart on crime, the border & everything else” before adding that Ronchetti has his “total endorsement.”

Trump has not campaigned for Ronchetti in New Mexico – he last appeared in the state for a 2019 rally in Rio Rancho as president – and the endorsement was not solicited, according to the Ronchetti campaign.

Ronchetti campaign spokesman Ryan Sabel addressed the endorsement in a statement sent to the Journal.

“Mark is supported by people from all walks of life and all different viewpoints – including Democratic sheriffs, a former Libertarian presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, (former) United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and now former President Trump,” Sabel said.

He also said Ronchetti is trying to win support from Democrats, Republicans and independents alike during a 42-stop tour across New Mexico leading up to Election Day.

However, Democrats seized on Trump’s endorsement of Ronchetti in a state in which Trump was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden by 11 percentage points – or nearly 100,000 votes – in the 2020 presidential election.

“Mark Ronchetti has been in lock-step with the MAGA GOP since day one, so it’s no surprise Trump is backing his campaign,” said Christina Amestoy, senior communications advisor for the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Governors Association.

Ronchetti faced questions from other Republicans during this year’s primary race about his loyalty to Trump, with some GOP rivals citing the former KRQE-TV meteorologist referring to Trump as the “orange one” during a 2019 climate symposium.

In response, Ronchetti’s campaign said the comments about Trump were “old jokes” taken out of context.

In addition, a spokesman said in April that Ronchetti will vote for the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024 – whether it ends up being Trump or someone else.

But Ronchetti has also sought to distance himself from Trump in some ways, saying in response to a Journal candidate questionnaire this fall that he does not believe Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, the Trump endorsement comes after Vice President Kamala Harris made a quick stop in New Mexico last week to attend a private fundraiser for Lujan Grisham and take part in a moderated discussion about reproductive rights.

President Joe Biden will also travel to the state Thursday, when he’s expected to take part in an Albuquerque rally with Lujan Grisham aimed at energizing supporters before the Nov. 8 general election.

Several Republican governors have stumped for Ronchetti in New Mexico, including Youngkin, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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