Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE — A New Mexico Republican Party convention meant to clarify a key election cycle instead turned into what one candidate described as “chaos and dysfunction” on Saturday due to long delays in voting and counting .
Nearly eight hours after the candidates finished delivering speeches to delegates in Ruidoso, the state’s GOP announced it would delay the release of voting results in the interest of “election integrity.” .
The party issued a press release just before 11 p.m. announcing that Jay Block had received the most votes in the gubernatorial race, 29%, and would be leading the poll. Rebecca Dow and financial adviser Greg Zanetti also received enough votes to be on the ballot, garnering 28% and 23% respectively, according to the statement.
The handling of the pre-primary convention has drawn criticism — both inside and outside the Republican Party — and references to potential lawsuits by candidates.
Mark Ronchetti, a former KRQE-TV weatherman who is one of five Republican gubernatorial candidates, described the GOP convention that drew 748 delegates from across New Mexico as “just another example of a faulty process”.
He said he had already submitted enough voter signatures to ensure he would also end up on the primary election ballot and urged delegates on Saturday to ‘get as many people on that ballot ” as possible.
“When you have the party elite trying to come in and decide who’s going to be on the ballot…it doesn’t serve anyone well,” Ronchetti said in an interview, referring to party rule changes that limited who could vote at the convention. .
Dow acknowledged the voting delays, but described the GOP convention as a high-energy event and said many Republicans waited at Ruidoso for hours hoping to hear the results.
“My message was that it’s time for a course correction and a smaller government,” said Dow, a three-term Truth or Consequences state representative.
The prolonged delay in voting — and vote tabulation — was caused by “problems” with the electronic voting system used by the state’s Republican Party that prompted the switch to paper ballots, a source said. State GOP spokesperson.
While Republican Party spokesman Mike Curtis called the change fluid, several candidates called the process choppy and said many delegates left the convention before it was announced.
The state’s Democratic Party, which will hold its own convention next weekend, slammed Republicans in a press release for their “incredible incompetence.”
The GOP feels optimistic
The convention drama came as Republicans feel optimistic about this year’s election cycle, believing that a new wave of candidates and voter dissatisfaction with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and other Democratic lawmakers will result in favorable results in November.
Several GOP candidates took aim at Lujan Grisham during their Saturday remarks, Block, a Sandoval County commissioner, reportedly called the governor an “evil witch” and promised to overturn some of his policies by executive order if he was elected.
Anti-abortion lawyer Ethel Maharg is also vying for the Republican nomination.
However, Democrats have won big victories in recent election years and entered this year holding all the elected offices statewide and significant majorities in both houses of the Legislative Assembly.
Whoever wins the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination on June 7 will face Lujan Grisham, who is running unopposed, in the general election. Two libertarian candidates also ran for governor.
The Saturday pre-primary convention was a first step in the nominating process, and it also sets the voting order for the primary election.
Candidates who fail to secure 20% of the delegate vote are required to submit more voter petition signatures if they still wish to qualify for the ballot.
Ronchetti said he submitted more than 7,000 voter signatures to the secretary of state’s office when he filed for governor this month – more than double the amount needed to ensure he would appear on the primary ballot.
Other races in the running
In addition to the governor, delegates also voted Saturday on disputed GOP primary races for lieutenant governor and two of New Mexico’s three congressional districts.
The candidates for the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District seat are Michelle Garcia Holmes, Louie Sanchez and Jacquelyn Reeve. Both Sanchez and Garcia Holmes received enough delegate votes to be on the ballot
In addition, several Republicans are running unopposed in the primary election.
That list includes U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell, the only Republican member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation.
It also includes Secretary of State candidate Audrey Trujillo from Corrales, Attorney General candidate Jeremy Gay from Gallup, State Treasurer candidate Harry Montoya from Santa Fe, and Lands Commissioner candidate Jefferson Byrd from Tucumcari.