The forecast for Mark Ronchetti?
A battle with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján for New Mexico’s open U.S. Senate seat.
The Albuquerque television weatherman appeared headed for an easy victory against two rivals in the Republican Senate primary Tuesday. With a small percentage of precincts fully reporting results, Ronchetti — the longtime meteorologist at KRQE-TV — had a commanding lead over anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez and Gavin Clarkson, a former New Mexico State University professor who served briefly in President Donald Trump’s Interior Department.
Ronchetti had more than 55 percent of the votes cast late Tuesday, while Martinez had over 26 percent and Clarkson 18 percent.
The GOP Senatorial Committee sent a statement congratulating Ronchetti for his victory and slamming Luján’s record in the House of Representatives.
Ronchetti now faces Democrat Luján and Libertarian Bob Walsh in the November general election to fill the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.
Walsh and Luján ran unopposed in their primary races.
Ronchetti, 46, ran on a platform focused on public safety issues, stronger border policies and a need to bring more jobs to New Mexico.
He released a statement regarding the high-profile killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man whose death in police custody has sparked protests and riots in cities nationwide. Ronchetti said “bad cops and those who engage in police brutality and worse must feel the absolute full force of the law.”
He said the nation needs “to have a dialogue across the board to discuss a variety of issues and possible solutions. But first, as a country, we need to bring a boiling point down.”
Asked to comment on Trump’s remarks to governors earlier this week that they should use military force to quell violence, Ronchetti said, “I think that we have to come together and bring this thing down. That doesn’t necessarily mean military force.”
In April, Ronchetti faced attacks from Clarkson and Martinez, who called him a “Never Trumper” after a video surfaced of the meteorologist appearing to criticize the president.
Martinez conceded to Ronchetti shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday and said she would support him in the general election.
“I think it’s important that we support our Republican candidates and work on turning New Mexico red and retire career politician Ben Ray Luján,” she said.
Martinez said she would continue her work at New Mexico Alliance for Life but wasn’t sure if she would run for another office in the future.
“I’m planning to sit on a beach somewhere,” she said. “But I’ll continue to be involved in supporting pro-life, conservative candidates.”
Clarkson’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, said in a statement Tuesday night that Ronchetti’s pragmatic outsider perspective would give New Mexico the kind of representation it hasn’t had in a long time.
Heading into the general election campaign, Luján leads the Senate race in fundraising, with more than $2.7 million in cash on hand. Ronchetti has $430,306.66 cash on hand out of $850,343.19 raised so far, according to Federal Election Committee filings. Walsh, who raised $1,798.01, has $397.41 cash on hand.
In a statement Tuesday, Luján said if he were senator, he would “fight for the resources that New Mexico needs to recover and rebuild during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ll also work to restart our economy by supporting small businesses and pushing for fair wages, while expanding access to high-quality and affordable health care,” he said.