Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham poses Monday with Senator Ben Ray Luján in front of the White House.

The gloves came off when the face mask was on.

The highest-ranking Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives took a swipe at Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on social media Monday after she appeared on a national TV interview wearing a mask while talking about a $1 trillion infrastructure bill President Joe Biden signed into law later in the day.

“She might be trying to disguise herself. People know her as being incompetent,” House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, an Artesia Republican, tweeted.

Lujan Grisham traveled to Washington, D.C., on Sunday to attend Monday’s bill signing ceremony at the president’s invitation.

Face masks have been a recurring source of criticism against the governor by high-ranking members of the GOP, who contend mask mandates don’t work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that Lujan Grisham is simply exerting control over New Mexicans.

But the governor and her administration have stood firm in what they say is a proven line of defense against the coronavirus, which continues to plague the state. Though New Mexico lifted its mask mandate for indoor public spaces in July, the state reinstated it when COVID-19 cases started to surge once again. Just last week, the governor extended the indoor mask mandate under a new public health order.

Late Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico issued a news release calling her public health orders “illogical” as COVID-19 cases continue to spike.

“Her latest panic move is to follow other states and push for booster shots and to extend her own irrational indoor mask mandate that’s failed to do anything in this health crisis,” the news release states.

Delaney Corcoran, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said Republicans have no valid reason to criticize the governor.

“Republicans can’t find a critique of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s success securing countless good-paying jobs and billions of dollars for New Mexico through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” she wrote in an email. “So instead, they are pitifully lashing out from behind their computer screens. The New Mexico GOP has no plan to lead this state and it shows.”

Townsend, who has been critical of the governor in the past, did not return a message seeking comment.

His jab on Twitter came in response to a tweet from a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, which has targeted Lujan Grisham in her reelection bid.

The spokesman, Will Reinert, posted a screenshot of the governor wearing a 3M face mask during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about the infrastructure bill.

“Wear a mask if you want, but [Lujan Grisham] wearing one during a live [Morning Joe] hit a new level of ridiculousness,” Reinert tweeted.

Response to Reinert’s tweet ranged from Townsend’s swipe to support for the governor.

“Great way to lead by example,” wrote a Twitter user with the handle @KoshkaRoo. “Every politician and public health officer should be wearing a mask during public appearances if that’s their state policy. Don’t want to be a hypocrite, right?”

Like New Mexico, the nation’s Capitol has an indoor mask mandate. Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s press secretary, wrote in an email Lujan Grisham wore a mask during the TV interview because she was indoors.

“New Mexico continues to have an indoor mask requirement in place,” Sackett wrote. “The governor takes her role seriously and prioritizes modeling the COVID-safe behavior that she asks her fellow New Mexicans to employ in order to stem the spread of COVID-19 and keep New Mexicans safe.”

Kendall Witmer, a spokeswoman for the governor’s campaign, wrote in an email Lujan Grisham “underscored her respect of New Mexico’s health care workers and families by wearing a mask while in D.C. to attend” the signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(21) comments

Trenia Walker

What is news-worthy about this? I'm so tired of troll-fodder from so-called "reporters." #sad

Khal Spencer

Funny no one else is wearing a mask. Seems a tad like virtue signalling but frankly, there are bigger political fish to fry.

Dottie Butler

Hey Jim, you're seem to be opposed to people having a choice about wearing a mask if they want to. It appears that you want as many people as possible to get Covid. Are you against anyone getting vaccinated?

Our governor has been fighting an uphill battle from the beginning against people like you that don't want anyone to wear a mask or get vaccinated. Oh sure, you may have said in the past that people have a choice, but you just said that they shouldn't have a choice.

Showing your true colors, and revealing how you and the entire Republican Party is a destructive force for New Mexico and for our democracy.

Trenia Walker

I agree, Dottie! I am so tired of so-called "reporters" who do nothing but provide fodder for their trolls!

Mike Johnson

"Like New Mexico, the nation’s Capitol has an indoor mask mandate. Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s press secretary, wrote in an email Lujan Grisham wore a mask during the TV interview because she was indoors."

Then why, on the front page of the New Mexican, is she shown with Ben Ray, who isn't wearing a mask, with a mask on outdoors? Just political signaling, nothing else.

Cleve Spence

Jim Townsend, and the republican party are the incompetents. Still selling and promoting that COVID was a hoax and will magically disappear!

Angel Ortiz

The Representative needs a better grip on reality. The GOP has shown zero leadership during the pandemic!

Khal Spencer

I really wish the GOP would put together a cogent agenda that had a chance in h*ll of winning an election, rather than engaging in yet another food fight.

Chris Mechels

Of course she's incompetent, always has been, dating back to her removal as DOH Secretary in 2007, which she lies about of course. Her Cabinet is a disaster, which shows clearly at DOH; and Corrections; and DPS; the list is long. Her only "skills" are PR and lying. The pic is interesting, as she seems to be wearing an N95 mask, while in NM a "face covering" is still acceptable. That's Michelle, always two faced.

Khal Spencer

This is the serious sort of issue. Why is the GOP not diving into this?

Mike Johnson

Maybe they are like me and glad to see this guy leave.

Robert Fields

How dare MLG wear an N95 mask?! I mean what gall for her to wear a mask that’s designed to help stop the spread of viruses! What should MLG wear, Chris? She’s abiding by her own administration’s policy.

“N95 masks must pass a rigorous inspection and certification process from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the CDC.”

N95 masks are more effective at stopping the spread of covid than surgical masks which are more effective than things like bandanas.

Or do you want MLG to do the minimum to stop the spread of covid and wear a bandana? Is this a fashion issue for you?

Lucille Armijo

That is not an N95 mask. Looks like a KF94 mask or some variant of.

Mike Johnson

Wow! You mean somebody finally noticed, no lie Sherlock!

Robert Fields

Rep. Townsend reveals his bizarre faith in the unfortunately typical republican anti-vax and anti-mask mania.

MLG was just practicing the behaviors she encourages. She walks the talk - unlike republican misleaders who get vaccinated in private while arguing for bad covid pandemic behaviors that push our hospitals to the breaking point.

All you anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers do realize it’s you guys keeping our covid numbers high and filling our hospitals, right? If you would get with the program and stop keeping covid circulating like a lit pilot light ready to start fires everywhere given the opportunity, we could potentially all not need to wear masks. Besides, your lack of respect for proper hygiene is still sickening and killing people.

It’s not MLG who is incompetent. It’s republican misleaders like Townsend, Griffin, Herrell, Pearce, etc, who are incompetent and keeping us needing these precautions to keep our hospitals from overflowing.

Joe Danna

Petty comments or tweets do not deserve front-page coverage. Do not amplify stupidity by the uninformed.

Emily Hartigan


John Cook


Marianne Kirk


Joseph Tafoya

Rep. Townsend was being more than kind in saying she was incompetent.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Very true, there are much more emotive words I would use.....

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