2022 Governor's Race

‘Carla’ in ‘Portales’ Gets ‘Free College’ Before It’s Free, Thanks to MLG

Carla from Portales just finished her nursing degree. She did it in record time, paid for with a program that haven’t taken effect yet, and landed a job in her town at a hospital that doesn’t exist.

Haters on social media were quick to point out the holes in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s newest campaign ad.

They criticized the “nurse” for grabbing her coat despite 95-degree heat (mafia?), for not having a license plate on her car (drug dealer?), for her husband’s terrible beard (unemployed Netflix extra?), for skinny-shaming nurses whose physical fitness more closely aligns with the health services they provide (based psy-opp?), and for having a bookshelf showcasing only three J.R.R. Martin books, a novel about Nazis, and a novella about a stick donkey named Pando (…Pando?).

(If you needed a reason not to go on the Internet, like ever, there it is.)

But there were legitimate questions surrounding the ad.

Several observers claimed the house in question is in Santa Rosa, not Portales, and that the “building in the background where Carla is turning into is not in Portales. It is the Santa Rosa Middle School where my kids go.”

The twitter user “FreespeechRefugee” also claims the hospital in the ad is not Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales but “Guadalupe County Hospital in Santa Rosa.” Both allegations check out. (For those thinking “Well, she commutes,” Portales is two hours from Santa Rosa.)

But the real issue with the ad is that “Carla” seems to be conflating the “free college” program just signed by the legislature with some previous version of the “Opportunity Scholarship” that has been around for several years.

Not to be confused with the “Lottery Scholarship,” which also offered “free” college to recent high school graduates, past versions of the “Opportunity Scholarship” were criticized for its access limitations and complicated rules for what funding gaps it covered, and when.

It can be confusing keeping up with all of the “free” programs the state has offered, but the timing of the ad, coming after the governor signed the state’s first official “free college” bill–to the fanfare of none other than Bernie Sanders–clearly intends to insinuate that “Carla” is taking advantage of the latest attempt by the governor to provide herself with some modicum of positive campaign messaging.

Lord knows she needs it. New Mexico continues to rank last in education nationally. What the keen observer might notice is, free college will do nothing to change that.

While it’s true that New Mexicans have the second-worst college completion rate (read: “dropout rate”) in the country, making post-secondary education “free” (read: “taxpayer funded”) will do nothing to quell criticisms of the governor’s leadership on K-12’s utter failures–or to improve college drop-out rates, for that matter.

People don’t value things that are free. Residents have left millions of dollars on the table every year in “opportunity scholarships.” They have scoffed at the post-high school lottery scholarships. And even when they do enroll, less than half finish. (Shout out to Alaska: thanks for being worse.)

Probably not Carla, probably not from Portales, probably didn’t take advantage of free college program that isn’t available yet

That’s not a problem of funding. It’s a problem of jobs, parenting, and the bureaucratic bloat of K-12 education.

None of which are solved by throwing taxpayer dollars at yet another “free” education program.

You can’t fault the governor for trying. Well…actually you can. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. They say money is the root of all evil. Nobody says money is the solution to the failings of big government education.

But solving poor graduation rates is not what MLG is going for with this ad. Without job prospects, college is a waste of time, and New Mexicans have shown year after year that it’s not worth the time investment when the job market offers positions they could have secured without spending six years living in poverty.

It’s election season, and after three years of notably not doing anything to move the needle on education, happy headlines are all she can hope for.

Enter Carla, who is likely not from Portales, did not use the governor’s new “free college” program, and who does not work at a hospital in Portales–at least not the one featured in the ad.

Sources close to The Conservative New Mexican say it’s very possible Carla’s real name isn’t. even. Carla.

That’s political advertising for ya. Welcome to the campaign trail. It’s all downhill from here. (And by downhill we mean riding a mudslide into a bog of political hogwash.)

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