Mark Ronchetti Wins New Mexico GOP Gubernatorial Primary New Mexico GOP gubernatorial-nominee Mark Ronchetti (Jaelyn deMaria/AP)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 07 June 2022 09:56 PM
Republican voters in New Mexico on Tuesday night have selected Mark Ronchetti to take on Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the November midterms.
Tuesday's primary election campaign was dominated by concerns about the economy, violent crime and security at the southern U.S. border.
Lujan Grisham seeks a second term after guiding New Mexico through the coronavirus pandemic with aggressive public health restrictions and a surge in state government spending linked to record-setting oil production.
A former television meteorologist, Ronchetti overcame state Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, investment adviser Gregory Zanetti, and anti-abortion activist Ethel Maharg.
Former President Donald Trump did not weigh in directly on the race after losing the New Mexico vote in 2020 by 11 percentage points.
Ronchetti, a seasoned broadcaster and household name, lost a Republican bid for U.S. Senate in 2020 by 6 percentage points to Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. None of the GOP candidates has held federal or statewide elected office.
New Mexico has alternated between Democrat and Republican governors since the early 1980s. The last incumbent governor to lose reelection was Democrat Bruce King, defeated in 1994 by then-Republican Gary Johnson.
Amid bruising attack ads, candidates in the Republican primary have emphasized plans to send soldiers or law enforcement personnel to the state's remote international border with Mexico, which echoes border deployments by Republican governors in Texas and Arizona.
Support for gun rights and opposition to abortion were on prominent display in the primary, along with concerns about New Mexico's last-place employment rate and lagging student proficiency in schools.
The fall election will test the staying power of a Democrat governor who revoked a state ban on most abortion procedures, ushered in new controls on gun access and sought greater police accountability by lifting immunity provisions for law enforcement agencies amid concerns about police brutality.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.