Another Reason Republicans Didn't Do So Well on Tuesday

Republicans have been bemoaning Tuesday's election results.  As to why Republican candidates did not do better, the two primary reasons given are either that the GOP had a lousy candidate or the Dems are insane and will vote for any Dem candidate, à la John Fetterman.

I believe that there is a third reason why Republicans did not do better.  In some states, the system set up by Dems makes it almost impossible for a Republican to win statewide office, regardless of the quality of the Republican candidate.  That's what happened in New Mexico.

Republicans thought Mark Ronchetti had a good shot of winning the governor's race against incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham.  Here's why:

1. Marie Antoinette–like behavior by Governor Grisham

In March 2020, Governor Grisham ordered all "non-essential businesses" to be closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Nonetheless, it was discovered that after the lockdown order had been issued, she requested that an Albuquerque "non-essential business" jewelry store open just for her so that she could buy some jewelry.  The store opened and sold her representative the jewelry.  Rules for thee but not for me.

A review of Governor Grisham's campaign spending reports revealed payment to a former staffer in the sum of $150,000.  Further digging revealed that the ex- staffer was paid for a sexual harassment claim.  He alleged that Governor Grisham had poured a bottle of water on his crotch in front of other staffers and then grabbed his genitals through his clothes while she laughed.

It was also discovered by inspection of public records that the governor was using contingency funds meant for food for needy children or those affected badly by the COVID-19 pandemic for personal expenses.  Those expenses included hundreds of dollars for alcohol; expensive meats, including Wagyu beef; a doggy door; and $800 to clean rugs due to animal stains.  Not a good look.

2. A crime explosion

Most places run by Democrats don't do a good job controlling crime, and that's especially true in New Mexico.  Criminals and criminal defense attorneys are still cheering a state constitutional amendment in 2016 that largely eliminated pre-trial bail.  FBI crime stats show that New Mexico is #2 in the country for violent crime per capita and #2 for property crime per capita.  Between Q3 2021 and Q3 2022, among the nation's 50 largest cities, Albuquerque had the sixth highest increase in homicides.

3. An awful K–12 public school system that got even worse

For many years, New Mexico's public education system has ranked at or near the bottom among the 50 states.  Despite spending enormous sums of money, only a small percentage of students are grade-level competent in reading and math.

On March 16, 2020, Governor Grisham ordered all public schools closed in N.M.  The schools did not reopen for in-person learning until April 5, 2021.  New Mexico's schools were shut the sixth longest of any state in the country.  Here's the problem: by May and June of 2020, published health statistics clearly indicated that the Wuhan virus was no more dangerous to children than the common cold.  Nonetheless, Governor Grisham commanded that the schools be shut and remain shut.  Why?  Because the teachers' unions wanted the schools closed.  In the battle between what was best for the children and what was best for the teachers' unions, she chose the unions.

The results of the school lockdowns have been catastrophic.  On October 24, the Nation's Report Card published post-lockdown reading and math test score results for all states and the District of Columbia.  N.M. students ranked 51st for fourth-grade math, fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade math, and eighth-grade reading.  New Mexico eighth-grade math scores showed a proficiency rate of 12.69%.

4. A well run campaign with a competent Republican candidate

This was not Mr. Ronchetti's first political rodeo.  Two years prior, he ran a strong campaign for U.S. Senate against Ben Ray Lujan.  He lost by six percentage points, but President Trump lost the state to Mr. Biden by nearly eleven.  A Trafalgar poll showed him in the lead.

He was a familiar face, having been on TV in New Mexico for many years, and had 100% name recognition.  He performed very well in the two televised debates with Governor Grisham and came close to matching her fundraising.  Down the stretch, he had the money to go toe to toe with her with TV and radio advertising spots.

He also had an excellent campaign manager in Jay McCleskey.  Mr. McCleskey had been successful in getting New Mexico's last Republican governor, Susana Martinez, over the finish line, twice.  He kept Mr. Ronchetti on message, pounding away with the key themes of crime and education.  The message resonated with the voters.

5. A brutal but ineffective Wuhan virus lockdown

By almost any standard, New Mexico had one of the toughest Wuhan virus lockdowns in the country.  Unlike most other states, the lockdown decisions were made exclusively by Governor Grisham.  Thanks to a law passed by a previous Democrat-controlled legislature (NMSA 12-10A-5), the governor alone had the power to declare a public health emergency and had to consult with only her Health Department secretary (who was appointed by the governor).  The executive orders declaring a public health emergency were not subject to legislative or judicial review.  During the lockdown, the Democrat-controlled state Legislature made no attempt to amend or repeal the statute to curb the governor's emergency powers.  The full blow-by-blow of what New Mexicans were put through can be seen at the N.M. Health Department's website.  The state was carpet-bombed with 76 executive orders and 74 public health orders between 03/13/00 and 09/27/22.

The primary stated reason for the harshness of the lockdown in N.M. was to save lives.  By that standard, Governor Grisham's lockdown policies were an abject failure.  When one looks at the Worldometers statistics, one sees that N.M. had the sixth highest virus death rate per million in the U.S.  By contrast, states that were much more open than N.M. had both less economic disruption and lower death rates: Florida was twelfth, South Dakota was twenty-second, and Texas was thirty-first.  These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, as newly emerging data are showing a dramatic increase in all-cause mortality rates and decrease in life expectancy in NM.

But the election wasn't even close.  Governor Grisham won by 6 percentage points.  What happened?

By way of background, no state in the United States has had single-party Dem rule longer than New Mexico.  The last time Republicans held a majority in both houses of the state legislature at the same time was 1930, and the last time they held a majority on the N.M. Supreme Court was in the 1920s.  It's not quite as lopsided for the governor's office: since 1931, Democrats have held the governorship for 59 of the last 92 years.

The Dems have a significant lead in voter registration, but it's not insurmountable.  As of September 30, voter registration in N.M. was 44.3% Democrat, 31.1% Republican, and 24.6% other.

First, as a result of nearly 90 years of single party Dem rule, the state has an enormous welfare class and enormous public-sector workforce.  Those blocs, when combined, constitute over 50% of the electorate and are opposed to fundamental change.  They both rely on government spending and are satisfied with the status quo.  They have been taken care of by Dems and see no reason to change.

Second, it's almost impossible to prove voter fraud in N.M.  No physical ID is required for in-person voting or to obtain an absentee ballot.  Additionally, there is no signature verification on absentee ballots.  We'll never know in N.M. whether a statewide election has been honest.

Third, the voters who would ordinarily vote Republican have left the state or never came.  In most parts of the country, population growth follows job growth.  One of the most telling statistics about New Mexico is its population.  In the 1930 Census, neighboring Arizona's population was 435,000 compared to N.M.'s 423,000.  Today, Arizona is 7.3 million compared to N.M.'s 2.1 million.  Why such anemic population growth in N.M. compared to Arizona?  Because 90 years of single-party Dem rule in N.M. has made the state unattractive for many private businesses compared to surrounding states.  No reason to come to N.M. when other states are so much more hospitable.

Fourth, a changing population. The Hispanic population in N.M. has surged from 36.6% in 1980 to 47.7% in 2020.  In N.M., Hispanics have voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats.  The last time Republicans elected a non-Hispanic white governor was Gary Johnson, who left office on 01/01/2003.

Other deep blue states, including Oregon and Washington, had strong Republican candidates who didn't make it across the finish line.  It may be that those states have also set up systems where it is almost impossible for a Republican to win, regardless of the quality of the candidate.

Image: cagdesign via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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