U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján maintained a double-digit lead in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat according to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report. The poll showed that Luján led Republican Mark Ronchetti 51 percent to 41 percent, with 3 percent saying they would vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh. Six percent said they were not sure. Related: Biden with leads Trump by 14 points in NM
The open U.S. Senate race came after Tom Udall said he would not seek a third term. Udall was initially elected in 2008 and easily won reelection in 2014.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. She was 87. The vacancy her seat creates will now give Republicans the opportunity to try to place another conservative justice to the bench. President Donald Trump, reacting to two Supreme Court decisions in June that he didn’t like, tweeted that he would have a new list of conservatives to appoint to the bench by September 1. Within just a few hours of the announcement of Ginsburg’s death, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not wait to bring to a vote for a Trump appointee this election year, according to multiple media sources.
A new poll, commissioned by NM Political Report and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that Democrats lead in the races for U.S. Senate and president in the state and that voters in the state approve of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic more than they do of President Donald Trump’s. Trump’s campaign has said they will target New Mexico as a potential pickup in his reelection effort, but polling across the country in recent weeks has shown presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a lead over the incumbent in key swing states. The poll found that Biden leads Trump 53 percent to 39 percent in New Mexico, with 8 percent unsure. Biden leads among Democrats, 80 percent to 14 percent, while Trump leads among Republicans, 85 percent to 12 percent. But Biden has a large lead among independents, 52 percent to Trump’s 30 percent, with 18 percent not sure.
Biden has a large lead among Hispanic or Latino voters, 68 percent to 22 percent, while Trump leads among white voters, 53 percent to 41 percent.
Former television news meteorologist Mark Ronchetti won the state’s Republican primary election for U.S. Senate, taking more than half the votes in a three-way race through partial results on Tuesday night. The results reported from the Secretary of State’s office as of 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday showed Ronchetti won 55.57 percent of the votes.
One of his opponents, anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez got 26.62 percent of the votes and Ronchetti’s other opponent, former Trump official Gavin Clarkson got 17.8 percent of the votes. Ronchetti will now face Democratic U.S. Rep Ben Ray Luján and Libertarian Bob Walsh in the November general election. Neither had competition in their parties’ primaries. The seat is currently held by Sen. Tom Udall, who announced he would not run for another term.
Former T.V. meteorologist and Republican primary candidate for U.S. Senate Mark Ronchetti found himself in hot water with his opponents this week. Already a target for some local conservatives, Ronchetti now has to explain comments he made during a presentation on climate change at the University of New Mexico last year that seemed to be a criticism of President Donald Trump. “I’m a Christain conservative, who used to be a Republican, until the orange one,” Ronchetti said, invoking laughter from the crowd. “I’m afraid that has taken a part of my soul and that’s not coming back.”
Ronchetti did not respond to a request for an interview, but his campaign manager told the Albuquerque Journal that the comments were in jest and that he does indeed support the president. But his opponents, namely the one who said he found the video clip, are not buying it.
Gavin Clarkson, a former Trump appointee and one of Ronchetti’s opponents, said he thinks “Support for Trump is a baseline qualification for the GOP.”
“If you’re going to say, ‘I support the president,’ prove it,” Clarkson told NM Political Report.
Clarkson said he found the video while searching online to back up his claim that Ronchetti’s previous public views on climate change differ from Trump’s.
“He spent the next 45 minutes to an hour talking about policies that this president doesn’t support,” Clarkson added.
But this week’s claims that Ronchetti wavers in his support for the White House are not the first for him or for other GOP candidates in the state.