Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Dow is taking a predictable but politically suicidal posture as COVID-19 infections rise.

Dow, a state representative, opposes Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's latest public health order on masks and vaccinations.

By Dow's estimation, Lujan Grisham isn't making adjustments to stop the spread of a terrible virus. By George, the governor's orders threaten liberty and prosperity.

"We've already endured months of MLG's harrowing mandates and restrictions that have crushed our businesses and driven New Mexicans to freer states," Dow wrote in a statement. "I'm not looking forward to the fallout from this one, and I believe it is cause to fear for our future."

Then again, a better reason for fear is an onslaught of COVID-19 cases that would fill hospitals and create a need for makeshift morgues.

Dow is from Truth or Consequences, a hometown with a fitting name after her demagoguery.

One truth is Lujan Grisham's requirements on masks and vaccinations are not an imposition. Most New Mexicans realize the measures are sensible in a pandemic.

Those whining about masks never would have survived World War II, even if they were far from foreign lands where the fighting was heavy and fierce. Americans at home sacrificed by acceding to rationing of gas, meat, sugar, canned milk and other goods.

People carping about a mask mandate while they order a $5 latte can appreciate Dow's platform. But these complainers were already disposed to vote against Lujan Grisham. Dow can't gain much ground in a general election by preaching to the pouters.

They ignore that even Donald Trump, in a moment of clarity, called himself a wartime president against the invisible enemy of COVID-19.

Many of us know someone who died of COVID-19 or became seriously ill when stricken. Better to live with vaccinations and masks than to hear of a hospitalized friend, comatose with a tube down his throat.

Another truth is Dow is running for governor of New Mexico, but she's tailoring her campaign to voters in Texas.

The consequence for Dow is she's mauling any chance she has of winning a statewide general election. That's the price of mimicking Amarillo Steve Pearce, chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party.

Pearce created a clumsy gimmick he calls Operation Freedom in which he pays homage to Texas politicians for their optional system on masks and other wondrous freedoms. All the while, he announced his displeasure with Lujan Grisham.

Of course Pearce would be displeased. Lujan Grisham crushed him by 14 percentage points in the 2018 election for the open governor's seat.

Pearce was no better than a regional candidate. He did fine in the congressional district he long dominated in Southern New Mexico. He had little appeal in Albuquerque or Northern New Mexico.

Dow is packaging her campaign to resemble Pearce's failed approach.

She might see her opposition to mask mandates as necessary to defeat a field of other little-known Republican candidates for the gubernatorial nomination. The primary is as far as that strategy will take her. Most voters in New Mexico's larger cities will reject the dogma that masks in a pandemic amount to shackles.

Here's what Lujan Grisham has ordered with the idea of preventing more infections of COVID-19 and its delta variant.

In most instances, people must wear masks in public indoor settings, even if they have been vaccinated.

Those working in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and other close-contact areas must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Lujan Grisham also ordered employees of schools, public and private, to either be vaccinated or agree to testing for COVID-19 each week.

Dow did more than criticize all these policies. She misrepresented the last one.

In her statement, Dow said the governor had required school employees "to be vaccinated and COVID tested on a weekly basis." Not so.

Any politician can pander. It's a tactic that can be effective on occasion, as when Trump promised Americans would become sick of winning if only they elected him.

Dow's pandering comes under a red, white and blue banner promising freedom. She accuses Lujan Grisham of imposing "stifling and entirely unconstitutional vaccine and mask mandates."

I doubt anyone raised the Constitution as a reason he should be able to pump all the gas he wanted while World War II rationing orders were in place. People then were tougher and more committed to the common good.

Dow's Texas two-step — optional masks and vaccinations — might be a popular campaign pitch in another state.

She will have a harder time justifying to New Mexico voters what's wrong with school employees either being vaccinated against COVID-19 or being tested weekly. After all, doesn't every candidate in every campaign say the children come first?

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at or 505-986-3080.

(34) comments

Stefanie Beninato

Ahh, the common good--what a concept in this age of I am the universe.

Emily Hartigan

Lessons for the newbie from the column and comments:

No, this is not about a viable Republican candidate, but another ignorance-spreader (forget Dow).

Yes, some literate (well, Michael could stop splitting infinitives, but overall coherent) people are still drinking the anti-science kool-aid during a pandemic.

No, anti-science folks aren't ready to be rational about the SOCIETAL aspects of behavior, such as the economy. Without the new mandate, I wouldn't be going to Indian Market, a celebration of beauty and creative vitality in the community.

Yes, the Governor continues to act as if she is protecting those who live in her state from sickness, death, and long-term side-effects that make vac side-effects pale.

Stay safe out there, and as the gentle guy in Rome says, love your neighbor.

Bill Cass

I always find it amusing when the party that thinks there are 53 genders and that men can have babies calls Republicans anti-science. Points for creativity.

As for the societal aspects of MLG's actions, I split my time between GA and NM. NM has had draconian lock downs, and the economy is dying. GA has stayed mostly open, and the economy is booming. And the COVID rates are essentially identical. But, hey, science.

Khal Spencer

The whole gender identity issue has been massacred to the point of absurd.

All humans are born with biological characteristics of sex, either male, female, or intersex. Gender, however, is a social construct and generally based on the norms, behaviors, and societal roles expected of individuals based primarily on their sex. Gender identity describes a person’s self-perceived gender, which could be male, female, or otherwise. In recent years, expanding the public understanding of gender has freed many to feel more comfortable in their own skin and live as the people they believe themselves to be. People whose gender identity corresponds to their biological sex may be referred to as cisgender. Transgender people have a gender identity that does not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth. And people whose gender identity feels neither masculine nor feminine may identify as non-binary, while those who feel no gender identity may refer to themselves as "agender."

Russell Scanlon

It will be a better world when certain folks quit caring so much about other folks’ sexuality.

rodney carswell


Russell Scanlon

Uh—the rate of infection in GA is 68 per 100k And in NM it is around 35 per 100K. But hey science. . . And facts

Ernest Green

The figures for new cases in GA vs NM (seven day avg ) are 73/100,000 and 36/100,000 so just more than double the rate of infection. This is a mathematic expression of relative risk based on known data gathered and reported by each state.

Khal Spencer

I'm the last person to uncritically praise our governor's decisions during the pandemic, which have ranged from pretty darn good to ham handed, autocratic, and goofy, but also realize that this pandemic is a no-man's land we have not been in since a pandemic a century ago. That said, the GOP, should it wish to offer a credible alternative, would be wise to couch criticism in rational terms rather than sounding like fools.

Milan, I am one of those people who almost lost a close friend to this pandemic. One of my three best friends from college was masked and goggled while food shopping in Las Vegas, NV, where he lives. Several youth came around a corner and one, to avoid soiling his mask, lowered it and accidentally sneezed on my friend. Days later my friend got Covid bad enough to require oxygen to survive; he was weak for months. By the way, he is incredibly fit, lean, and routinely scampers up mountains 12,000 feet high. Your WW II analogy is appropriate: there was a time we took care of each other rather than selfishly only looking out for #1.

The GOP of New Mexico should take heed of former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's famous admonition to the Party of Lincoln: Stop being the Stupid Party. Unfortunately, in this state, that warning is falling, for the most part, on deaf GOP ears. I recall most of my Republican friends in Los Alamos, and I had a fair number of them, went silently underground, abandoned that ship and became independents, or in, became a registered Democrat!

I'll likely not have a credible choice at the polls.

And we wonder why we are first in all the bad stuff and last in all the good stuff.

Russell Scanlon

I guess I can understand the non-stop resentment of MLG that occurs in these comments on a personal level—but extremist? What has she done that is so “extreme left”? Please enlighten me.

Robert Fields

Nothing. MLG isn’t extremist. I also don’t agree with everything she does but all anyone needs to do is look at a map of covid case counts and covid deaths to see she has saved a lot of lives in New Mexico. Had she done what republicans wanted, we would likely be as bad off as our other southern US neighbors with hospitals again stressed and full, rationing care, and crowds of people busy infecting as many people as they possibly can as they rally against MLG anyway. It really has little or nothing to do with MLG, and everything to do with this new, radical, bizarre, Trumpist republican party. (And not lumping Khal in with republicans. I think that was probably a slip.)

Robert Fields

And to be clear, Khal didn’t really call MLG or her actions extremist. Just not to his taste. I should have been more clear in my response.

Khal Spencer

Hi Robert. I didn't take your post that way.

I re-read what I posted (I was in a hurry as the dog was glaring at me to be walked) and no, I didn't call anyone an extremist. Some of the initial blanket closures penalized small businesses unfairly, no initial allowances were made for not masking outside when alone which is scientifically ridiculous, some orders went through without any advance warning, calling people "lizards" is ad hominem, etc. It was a "panic first, think later" response at times with an arrogance topping for good measure. But our governor is not an "extremist", which is kind of an ill-defined insult rather than valid criticism.

I reiterate my criticism of our Legislature, which cows to a strong governor in this state. What I would call for if I were a power broker in my party would be to amend the emergency public health order to require a validation by a majority of the Legislature periodically, say, every 90 days, so that the public knows our divided government still functions, even during the stress of a pandemic. Meanwhile, the governor is doing what she has the power to do, given that power by the Legislature, and there is no check or balance in play. That's my core beef and I think I can justify it on good government grounds.

Stay healthy, all. Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together, as my friend unfortunately found out. He is better now, thank goodness.

Khal Spencer

I never used the word extremist in my post. You talkin' to someone else, Russell?

Russell Scanlon

No you did not use the term “extremist” in this thread. I asked you because I have come to expect reasonable and intelligent answers from you. I do know that the terms “leftist” and “socialist” are thrown around a lot in these forums and are applied to the Democratic Party in general and MLG in particular. This concerns me, because the Right Wing media have been on a 30 plus year campaign to redefine the terms of the debate and move the goalposts. Nowadays Hillary Clinton is a “ leftist” and Biden is a “socialist”, etc. according to a sizable percentage of loyal viewers of Hannity, Carlson—and this is patently false. Sooner or later, the GOP will have to realize that they are the ones who are the minority and that no amount of obfuscation will change their dwindling appeal. (At least George W. Bush talked about being a “big tent”party.). Aside from all that, MLG has done a better job with COVID than most—just look at the maps for all the proof you need.

Khal Spencer

Hi Russell. Sorry for any confusion. The structure of the comments made me think you were asking me to justify my calling her an extremist so my response was essentially "huh?".

In my reply to another comment, I made clear that such a term is ill defined, meaningless, and analogous to calling someone a "Marxist", "Socialist", "Fascist", etc. These have become, as Orwell might say in Politics and the English Language, devalued and increasingly meaningless terms thrown around like spaghetti at a wall. As I said, I thought some of what she did was good and some was not. See above.

My party has at times been guilty of internecine food fighting. The Squad gets called all sorts of stuff. So does Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. It actually annoys me. If the Progressive wing of my D party really wants to give the bum's rush to those two, we might end up with two more GOP members in the Senate. Etc.

Mike Johnson

Good points Khal, but there is nothing even remotely similar between this pandemic and WWII. That is why people are not caring about those they do not know, and more importantly disregarding (dare I say despising) those that have different political values, views, and priorities from themselves. This is about politics, WWII was not, we were all in that together and acted that way, quite unlike today.

Robert Fields

Thing is, we’re all in this together too. Some don’t understand that or just don’t care.

Only (“only”) 407,000 Americans died in WWII. To date, 643,000 Americans have died of covid. In WWII people bought war bonds, rationed and did without, and supported the common good. Today, a significant fraction of the country refuses to even wear a mask to help prevent a highly infectious and deadly disease from overrunning hospitals and killing their fellow citizens.

There are still plenty of people who are willing to sacrifice for their country and fellow citizens. It’s just the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are not. And it is about politics. It’s disingenuous to try to say otherwise. If your choices were based on science and facts, you would be for vaccines, masks, and distancing.

Mike Johnson

Again, comparing combat deaths in a world war, or any war, and a disease is like comparing apples to horse dung. Not at all the same, not even close. When people are fighting a common foreign power enemy that wants to destroy our country, our freedoms, and our way of life, it is not like a contagious disease, perhaps you have never been in combat and don't know the difference?

Mike Johnson

Yes, all of MLG's edicts and draconian orders have been and are all about politics, not "public health". But the voters here, who have time and again voted for politicians who want to keep us last and play political games, are not inclined, or intelligent enough, to even understand the issues. It reminds me of what H.L. Mencken said long ago:“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” Perfectly describes the majority of NM voters in general.

Robert Fields

If you haven’t noticed (and you haven’t, have you, Mike?), New Mexico is currently 35th in the nation in terms of covid cases normalized for population according to Worldometer. Not quite last, but not bad considering the large pockets of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. It’s the republican-led states having the most issues with covid and now turning patients away from hospitals because their ICUs are full.

You don’t seem to understand that states ignoring sound public health practices in the face of covid are killing their own populations. Even though covid treatments have reduced the death rate, if people can’t get health care, those death rates will skyrocket, and not just from covid. Death rates from everything that requires life saving medical care will skyrockets. The first reports of people dying because they cannot get medical care are now coming in. You want that here too?

If you think covid is imaginary, go tour the new refrigerated trailers Texas got from FEMA this week for their dead that are piling up. Do you understand numbers? Almost 650,000 have died of covid - not counting those who died from covid complications and their states refuse to include them in covid dead. Do you understand that 650,000 dead is 2 people out of every 1000 over the whole US population? Do you not understand the magnitude of that or just not care as long as you accomplish your political purposes here?

Mike Johnson

Cherry picking stats I see. NM is 13th worst in deaths per capita according to Worldometer, not quite last but hardly something to be proud of at all and little evidence of MLG's fantastic prowess at "public health", a job she was fired from in an earlier life of politics here. NM is worse than Texas and Florida in deaths per capita, who had hardly any draconian edicts and orders. But, you are free to chose your own stats to fit your political views and political agenda you are pushing, and as I said, this IS all about politics isn't it? You have proven that.

Robert Fields

A high death rate is even more reason to mask up and get the vaccine. When did MLG get charged with whatever you are claiming about the hospitals? Sticking with what MLG can control, she’s done well in keeping people out of the hospitals, no?

It seems obvious to me that ignoring common sense health guidance and mandates makes it more likely you would end up in our “substandard” (your opinion) hospitals which then makes you more likely to die from covid. Why on earth would you want to behave in ways more likely to put you in one? “Muh rights”?

Robert Fields

Is it to much to hope that Dow chooses Couy Griffin as a running mate? If sanity loses, at least New Mexico could share moon unit bragging rights with Colorado and Lauren Bobert, Florida and Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz, Ohio's Gym Jordan, Texas, Oklahoma, etc, ad nauseum. Heck, the pair could possibly even challenge Fox, OAN, and Newsmax in a race to depths of conservative insanity. Trump turned the republican party into a clown car.

Russell Scanlon

The GOP has become an obsolete heap of reactionaries and “Populists” (polite term). Want to understand why? Look no further than the latest US Census. As the country (and the world) move forward into the next millennium these folks will be shaking their fists (or leaving truck bombs at the US Capitol) and wondering what happened. If the GOP wants the votes of the reasonable people who still populate the middle of the spectrum they are going to have to renounce the corrosive nfluence of the odious Donald Trump and his acolytes.

Miguel Perez

It looks like will have to choose between a left wing extremist and a right wing extremist. We need a reasonable, moderate candidate who has the ability to actually help pull our state out of the mess that we are in. MLG has proven that she is not that person.

Khal Spencer

Ok, I'll announce my candidacy tomorrow. Send in the checks...

Mike Johnson


Mike Johnson


John Cook

Rep. Dow is right that she has to pander to the Trump crowd to win the primary. That is reality in today's Republican party. In normal times she would, if she wins the primary, pivot to the center for the general election. However, the Trumpies will abandon her in the general if she strays from the 'purity' of insanity.

Tom Diaz

Milan, that is a good analogy to World War II gas rationing. Actually, there were more than a few people who thought they had a right to use all the gas they wanted. At the time they were cranks and customers on the black market. I suspect many of the anti-maskers would act the same way if they were transported back in time. In fact, the internet gives anti-masker people and politicians a platform they would not have had in the 1940s; that makes me think there were even more of the anti-rationing cranks than we appreciate now.

John McDivitt

Gasoline rationing in WWII was NOT about gasoline. Back then we had plenty to fight a war and provide ample supplies at home. It was about rubber... we had none when the Dutch East Indies fell until we developed supplies from Brazil. The rationing was to save tires.

Khal Spencer


Robert Fields

Until republicans repudiate Trump en masse, he controls them. Anyone who doesn’t kiss the ring has support pour out for their republican opponents. It’s backfired in some races, though. It all depends on the level of intelligence of the constituents and what appeals to them. Folks like Yvette Herrell, Couy Griffin, Steve Pierce, and now this Rebecca Dow person all seem to think their constituents just aren’t that smart. Time will tell.

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