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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Weatherman Turns Politico; All Wet Or Sunny Skies Ahead? Plus: R's Eye MLG's Hallinan Problem  

Ronchetti
Is the weatherman all wet? Or are sunny skies ahead? 

The expected entry of longtime KRQE-TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti into the chase for the GOP US senate nomination this week has R's who aren't meteorologists putting their fingers to the wind and trying to predict what's next. In a party devastated by heavy losses and torn asunder by factionalism, predicting where Ronchetti will fit into the picture is like trying to predict what Iran will do next. 

Th first reaction of many was to question why Ronchetti would give up his well-paying weather gig that he has had since 2006 and at which he has been highly successful. Would the station take him back if his Senate bid failed, or is Ronchetti looking for something new and jumping without a net?

Dem Chris Catecheis joked:

Why would he quit a job where he could be wrong 80% of the time and still stay employed, just to run for the senate?


Don't expect the other GOP candidates to yield to him. That means the R's March pre-primary convention is pivotal. 

That convention will place candidates on the June primary ballot. If a contender doesn't get 20 percent of delegate support, he doesn't get an official ballot spot and would have to file additional petition signatures to make the ballot. However, failing to get 20 percent at the convention dries up the money and is almost always the death knell for a candidacy.

As for Ronchetti, the popular media personality is aligned with the Gov. Martinez and consultant Jay McCleskey faction of the GOP and not the ruling faction led by GOP Chairman Steve Pearce. Former Governor Martinez was no Trumper but it’s the Trumpers in command of today's party. 

On his website Ronchetti is said to "support all the President has done to energize America's economy." He is described as a "conservative who also believes taxes should be low and 2nd Amendment rights should be protected." He will run as a "pragmatic outsider."

So far, the national R's have shown no interest in taking on heavily favored Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the presumptive Dem nominee who is banking millions in preparation for November.

Ronchetti, 46, who can tap into what's left of Martinez’s donor list, will be joining Gavin Clarkson, Mick Rich, Elisa Martinez and Louie Sanchez in the GOP race. He has celebrity but to raise money he'll have to make a compelling case that Lujan can be defeated. So far, there are no takers for that proposition. 

In the US Senate race you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing--at least not yet. 

MLG WATCH

The sexual abuse allegations made against Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham by her campaign communications director, James Hallinan, continue to be dissected in political circles. Republicans are watching for any opportunity for their down and out party. A GOP operative analyzes:

When NM Democratic Party Chair, Richard Ellenberg, stepped down in 2018 for not dealing with sexual harassment issues appropriately, then candidate for Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “As Democrats, we stand with the silence-breakers who have come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Questioning the credibility of sexual misconduct allegations is contrary to our values.” 

She couldn’t have said it better, but apparently it doesn’t apply to her. Her office did everything they could to trash Hallinan, calling the allegations “bizarre” and “slanderous” and dissing his work performance. Where are the Democrat leaders who made comments that victims should be believed? Kind of shows you the double standard that exists in their Party and why they’re losing membership. 

The Governor’s image has yet to be cemented statewide. Maybe it’s time stop the pranks? The water fights? People are going to quickly tire of the “rambunctious” Governor’s office and Facebook posts of staff goofing off at the Capitol, especially if there aren’t tangible results to go with it. 


LEGAL BEAGLE TAKE

A Legal Beagle weighs in on the campaign meeting where Hallinan alleges that MLG threw a bottled water on his crotch and grabbed his genitals. No one at the meeting has corroborated Hallinan's story and ABQ Rep. Deborah Armstrong, who was there, says it never happened. Our Beagle says:

The witnesses to the alleged Hallinan groping by MLG will no doubt want to support MLG. But if Hallinan files a civil suit, he gets discovery --that's under oath. Will the three witnesses and the defendant MLG commit perjury? Discovery will raise the stakes a lot. MLG is not off the hook.

Hallinan says he is going to contact a "detective" about the alleged assault but has said nothing else of his legal plans regarding the incident.


THE BOTTOM LINES

From BernCo:

Governor MLG has appointed James M. Collie as the new commissioner in District 3. Collie currently serves as a member of the Bernalillo County Planning Commission and is a retired pastor and administrator in the Presbyterian Church. .  Collie replaces (Democrat) Maggie Hart Stebbins who resigned her seat to accept a position in state government.

MLG said she would appoint a commissioner who pledged not to run for the seat in 2020. Collie won't and there are several Dem candidates now seeking the Hart Stebbins seat.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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