Democrats dominate Santa Fe the way Casey did Mudville. He could strike out at a crucial moment but remain his town’s star player.

That’s the unappealing reality facing Alexis Martinez Johnson, the lone Republican in Santa Fe’s three-person mayoral election. She is stuck in the role of potential spoiler.

Martinez Johnson might take away enough votes from City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler to keep Mayor Alan Webber in power.

Or, in the city’s strange ranked-choice voting system, supporters of Martinez Johnson could deliver enough second-place votes to Vigil Coppler to help the councilor unseat Webber.

A third possibility exists. Martinez Johnson might have no effect on the outcome as she lags her opponents, both Democrats.

The mayoral election is nonpartisan, but that’s semantics. Martinez Johnson’s Republicanism and her support for former President Donald Trump are heavy baggage for her.

“I stand with President Donald Trump!” Martinez Johnson wrote on Twitter in December 2019, when she was a candidate in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. “He has achieved a record setting economy! NM Democrats: Stop wasting time with a biased impeachment.”

To an extent, Martinez Johnson’s praise of Trump paid off. She edged Harry Montoya to win the Republican congressional nomination. Montoya, a former Democrat, had named John F. Kennedy and not Trump as his political hero.

Backing Trump didn’t help Martinez Johnson in the general election. Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez thrashed Martinez Johnson, 58 percent to 41 percent. The margin was more decisive in Santa Fe County, where Martinez Johnson received only 21 percent of the vote.

Martinez Johnson, 39, still considers the election a moral victory.

“I received 131,000 votes — more than any Republican in the history of the 3rd District,” she said.

She doesn’t mention that Leger Fernandez had 186,000 votes, top in the district’s 38-year history.

During a wide-ranging interview, Martinez Johnson was both upbeat and downcast about the mayoral election.

She said she outpointed Vigil Coppler and Webber in a recent debate at a police lodge, calling herself the voice of rational thought as the Democrats bickered.

“It was sad to see my children in the distance, watching it,” said Martinez Johnson, married and the mother of four.

She also says she has excellent name recognition thanks to her congressional campaign.

Martinez Johnson is a distant third in fundraising, though, limiting her visibility in the race’s homestretch.



“I don’t have the money to be an adequate choice at this point,” she said.

She places much of the blame on Montoya, her old rival for the congressional nomination. Martinez Johnson said Montoya blocked her from receiving backing from the Santa Fe County Republican Party.

Montoya, first vice chairman of the party, tells a different story.

“Alexis was invited to an audience with the Republican Party officers. She sent surrogates. We asked her again, and she did not show up,” Montoya said.

Martinez Johnson said she became ill with COVID-19 and could not attend the scheduled meeting. She said Montoya knew this but moved against her during her illness.

“While I was hospitalized and struggling to breathe, he called my campaign manager and started to talk about JoAnne Vigil Coppler,” Martinez Johnson said. “He was using the nonpartisan label in a very backhanded and vindictive way.”

The county Republican Party did not back a candidate in the mayor’s race. Montoya says he is supporting Vigil Coppler.

Stung by a lack of help from county Republican officers, Martinez Johnson spoke of defecting.

“Maybe I need a new party,” she said.

What would it be?

“Maybe independent.”

Other members of the GOP are helping Martinez Johnson. The Santa Fe Federated Republican Women contributed $2,500 to her campaign. Republicans also are listed among Martinez Johnson’s individual donors, though the roster is short.

“If I had enough funding, I could really move a mountain,” Martinez Johnson said. “People tend to gravitate toward me because I’m a very authentic individual.”

An environmental engineer, Martinez Johnson calls herself a good fit for mayor because the job is about solving problems to make sure city services are efficient.

She had a public confrontation with the government she now wants to head. Martinez Johnson flouted a city ordinance while running for Congress. Police ticketed her for refusing to wear a mask during the pandemic while campaigning on the Plaza.

Martinez Johnson first said she had a constitutional right to go unmasked, but she pleaded no contest to the code violation in Municipal Court.

She couldn’t fight city hall then. Her battles have only escalated. Democrats are her familiar enemy, Republicans an unexpected one.

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

(19) comments

Peter Romero

I guess we can still only blame Democrats for everything, since they run the

S**t show in New Mexico and in the city of Santa Fe. Makes me feel good that a republican can't be blamed.

Richard Reinders

Don't forget DC too.

Carolyn DM

"She also says she has excellent name recognition thanks to her congressional campaign." Hilarious!! I've never heard of her, as I'm sure most haven't. But then again brainwashed Trumpf supporters hold no significance for most people in these pars.

Russell Scanlon

NM Republican Party: The FOX weatherman, Couy Griffin, and that guy driving around the Plaza yesterday with his huge flag banner reading “F*** Biden”.

Khal Spencer

That doesn't sound like Santa Fe to me. If you are a bit loopy in this town and on the left, its one thing. Loopy and on the right just puts people off.

Russell Scanlon

Well. . Those are all real people and real things. I ain’t making anything up.

Khal Spencer

I'm not disagreeing with you...

Jan Johnson

Please make sure you vote for your FIRST CHOICE for mayor only once when using the ranked choice system. You have the option of ranking just one candidate. You do not need to rank multiple candidates if you do not want to. When the ballot counter reads multiple candidates ranked the same, it will discard the ballot. Please make sure your vote counts! http://votedifferentsantafe.com/

Russell Scanlon

The death of Colin Powell only highlights the fact that the GOP has been become a repository of white resentment, patriarchy, and religious extremism, all funded by the fossil fuel industry, the NRA, and the Russians. The Trumpies need to be defeated at every level, from the mayor’s race to national offices. Trump is a toxin that has destroyed any credibility of the Republican Party. The late general understood this the minute he got a good look at Sarah Palin and listened to her yammering incoherence.

Diane Gonzales

She is a good example of Trumpism infiltrating local elections.

Emily Hartigan

No mask when required, supports Trump --- toxic indeed.

Andrew Lucero

The reality is, Johnson cannot win this election. And Webber knows that the only way he can win the election is for the ranked choice voting to go to a second round. So, mathematically speaking, if you don't want Webber to win, you rank Johnson second and leave Webber's name off the ballot completely.

John Cook

I don't understand why Webber needs the election to go to a second round. Why can't he just get more than 50% of the votes in the first round?

Janet Eduardo

She couldn't attend the meeting because she was in hospital with covid? Maybe she should have reconsidered not wanting to wear a mask?

Samuel Herrera

Weber stuck her in there to dilute the Hispanic vote. He thinks we don’t know.

Stefanie Beninato

Oh, please, Sam, where did you get this conspiracy theory? You would probably blame Webber if a bird used your head as a target!

Judy Klinger

[thumbup][beam]

Stan Biderman

Ha ha!

John Cook

We all think you don't know. All of us are right. You could make a better case that Webber broke ground on a 17,000 square foot teen center in South Santa Fe to dilute the Hispanic vote.

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