UPDATE: Steve Pearce has won re-election, with 55% of the vote. Sarah Jane Allen took second with 20.7%, followed by Robert Aragon at 13.2%, Eddy Aragon with 10.4%, and Rodney Tahe with one half of one percent. 386 Republican Party members voted out of 520, or 74%.
Four years ago, coming off a “walloping at the polls” where New Mexico Republicans lost “not just every statewide race but every congressional district and a row of seats in the Legislature,” party delegates decided to elect Steve Pearce as the new GOP chair.
In his first two-year term, Pearce oversaw another walloping, losing 8 more seats to Democrats in the New Mexico legislature. In 2022, news reports sang a similar tune, “a bruising midterm election,” “Republican candidates failed,” “GOP officials facing pressure.”
Democrats hold majorities in the House (44 seats to 24 for Republicans) and the Senate (27 to 15). They lost the only Republican seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. And their candidate for governor–a moderate with statewide name recognition and a huge war chest–lost by six points to one of the least popular incumbent governors in the country.
“The GOP last week descended to its lowest point,” Sante Fe New Mexican editor Milan Simonich wrote after the midterms. “Republican candidates failed in all nine contested statewide elections for administrative offices and judicial seats. Republicans forfeited the election for state auditor because Pearce didn’t find a candidate.”
It was a hard election for Republicans to swallow. The party was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. A more MAGA candidate wouldn’t have stood a chance in a majority-Democrat electorate. Being a White male with an Italian last name probably didn’t help. A certain pastor basically calling Ronchetti a liar in public for his stance on abortion surely didn’t win over many voters.
But then the hot takes from voters.
- “If someone like Ronchetti can’t beat a Dem like MICHELLE…Republicans are F***ED.”
- “white aint right in a majority minority state full of triggered antitrumper dems”
- “New Mexico favored Biden by 10 points so maybe we need a gov candidate in his 80s next time?”
New Mexico has no industry outside of oil and national labs, we’re #1 in welfare, and worst in the nation in education (a fault more of parents than the failed bureaucracy that is government education). We’re last in childhood well-being, fourth-highest in suicide, and fighting for top slot in crime. The state legislature is run by Democrats, a re-elected Democrat in the governor’s mansion, a full blue Supreme Court, and on the federal level: all blue.
Politics is about more than elections. It’s about policy and their effects on lives and land. Democrats simply haven’t delivered for New Mexico, despite maintaining majority control of the Roundhouse for the better part of a century. But the question we have to ask is, Could Republicans do it better? or is New Mexico beyond help?
Winning elections and governing require similar skillsets (organization, communication, an effective sales pitch), and though plenty of politicians are good at one and not the other, New Mexicans don’t have much confidence in the party that claims to have all the answers but can’t eek out a single electoral victory.
Pearce is urging patience, telling The Santa Fe New Mexican, “We’re making progress. It’s not as fast as maybe all of us want, but it’s definitely progress.”
In terms of voter registration, he’s right. The GOP added 40,000 voters since 2018, versus 25,000 for Democrats. The Republican gubernatorial candidate this year earned 25,000 more votes than the candidate in 2018 (which was Pearce). The problem is, slow progress still means across-the-board electoral losses.
Pearce’s top challenger for the GOP chairmanship, Robert Aragon, is younger by a decade and Hispanic. He’s a party insider with friends in high places and enemies in every county. He hasn’t promoted a platform for the public to dissect, because party chairs don’t have to, but he’s got moderate odds of beating Pearce if emotions win the day.
Aragon’s pitch: “I know New Mexico!”
Pearce’s pitch: “Be patient.”
And then there are the also-rans–candidates with less chance on paper but capable of a hail mary considering how disjointed the New Mexico Republican Party has become.
There’s Eddy Aragon, the recently DWI’d shock jock who called Pearce “a proven loser” who is “too old” to be running the party. Eddy secured 18% of the vote in the Albuquerque mayoral race against a so-called “Conservative” Democrat Manny Gonzales, who couldn’t pronounce words and hired an pronouned LTBTQ Californian to run his campaign, with expected results. Aragon and Gonzales lost to New Mexico’s Justin Trudeau, Mayor Tim Keller, by a wide enough margin that neither candidacy mattered. A good fight, but the better politician won, much to Albuquerque’s chagrin. Aragon is a firecracker who would shake things up. Whether he could organize a movement remains to be seen.
There’s Sarah Jane Allen, who holds a leadership position in the Bernalillo County GOP and heads the Bernalillo branch of “Moms For Liberty.” She’s “mousey, refined, and passive,” as one reader put it–the latter of which is an automatic disqualification considering how hands-off the existing NMGOP leadership has been not only in communication of policy to the electorate but in selection of candidates.
Last and least, there’s Rodney Tahe. Nobody will be voting for Tahe.
Most signs point to a Pearce re-election, and depending on how blackpilled you are about the state of Conservatism in America, the re-election may be welcomed. There’s a silver lining to managed decline. Perhaps the prospect of rock bottom will spur real change in the party…next time.
For others there is real hope that a long-term strategy is what’s been missing all these years. The patience Pearce is encouraging wasn’t awarded to the last five party chairs, and maybe that was part of the problem.
But maybe not.
Categories: New Mexico
Seems from my perspective the NM Party is more of a social club for the insiders to enjoy themselves. Ronchetti made a solid effort and might even be a better choice for Party leadership. He might be able to meet with those who supported him and pull together some new candidates to benefit from his experience. At least he has a dynamic personality unlike the dullards now in charge.
Excellent article. The last Anglo Republican governor in NM was Gary Johnson in the 1990s. Because of demographic changes over the last 40 years, I don’t think a Republican Anglo will ever win statewide office in NM again. It has to be the Susanna Martinez model. In 1980, state’s Hispanic population was 36 percent. Today it is 50 percent.