After winning the GOP primary for governor by a long shot on Tuesday, Republican Mark Ronchetti will take on Democratic incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in November’s general election.
“We have a governor that has decided that she will look out for the best interests of the elites in Santa Fe instead of you,” Ronchetti said in his victory speech.
Beating out four other opponents, including state Rep. Rebecca Dow, Ronchetti’s campaign stances like strict border security, opposition to abortion and support for gun-owners’ rights contrast Lujan Grisham’s positions favoring reproductive health care access and gun policy reform.
The candidates share some similar crime policy positions with calls for additional law enforcement funding and lessening the number of people who are released before their trials.
Both seek to transform New Mexico’s low-ranking education status. Lujan Grisham recently signed legislation for teacher raises, less administrative paperwork for teachers and free in-state college tuition. Ronchetti is focused on eliminating liberal ideologies he says are being taught in school through boosted local authority and control, as well as a return to education basics he says were lost due to remote education during the pandemic.
“I'm grateful to every New Mexican who believes in this campaign. I humbly accept the nomination for Governor. We're not done delivering for our state,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement on social media following Tuesday’s election.
Democrat Raúl Torrez eked out a win in his primary late Tuesday night, beating state Auditor Brian Colón for the slot by six percentage points.
Torrez is the Bernallillo County district attorney and a prosecutor from Albuquerque. He told the League of Women Voters that if elected, his priorities would be to bring his experience and “modern approach” to prosecuting crime and corruption. He said he would also use the office to take on corporations who target workers, elderly people and the environment.
He’s been criticized for championing tough-on-crime approaches that aren’t evidence-based, like changes to pre-trial release rules, which he backed along with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during the 2022 legislative session. The measure failed.
Torrez will face Jeremy Michael Gay, a Republican from Gallup, in November.
Democrat Laura Montoya, a Las Vegas native, won her primary Tuesday night, despite a barrage of attacks ads from incumbent Treasurer Tim Eichenberg. He’d reached his term limit and backed Montoya’s opponent Heather Benavidez.
Montoya, who spent eight years as the Sandoval County treasurer, will face Republican Harry Montoya in the general election and could become the first woman to hold the position.
After a competitive campaign, Democrat Joseph Maestas secured the nomination for state auditor. With decades of government service already under his belt, Maestas said he wants to prevent fraud, waste and abuse, as well as provide government accountability.
Republicans haven’t held the office for over 50 years. Masteas’ opponent in the general election will be write-in candidate Libertarian Robert Jason Vaillancourt.
Phil Scherer contributed to this report