The reelection campaign for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is getting off to a rocky start.
A day after protesters attempted to derail the governor’s campaign kickoff event in Albuquerque, campaign organizers confirmed they postponed a Friday meet-and-greet at the Santa Claran Hotel Casino in Española.
A flyer circulating on social media said a second protest was planned at the campaign stop.
Kendall Witmer, Lujan Grisham’s campaign spokeswoman, wrote in an email the postponement was called due to security concerns stemming from Thursday’s event.
“These protesters berated supporters with violent and racist language and stalked and intimidated press and event staff,” Witmer said. “Now is not the time to put our supporters at risk and in light of those security concerns, we decided to postpone our event to a future date.”
Lujan Grisham held her first campaign rally Thursday at the Albuquerque Museum’s outdoor amphitheater. Dozens of protesters, some with megaphones and others with homemade signs, attended the event in a show of frustration with Lujan Grisham’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeers from the group forced the governor to cut her announcement speech short.
During the rally, Lujan Grisham joked to supporters she was sorry she picked the same location as the “QAnon lizard people.”
Protesters seized on the label. One group, Call to Action NM, included it on a flyer intended to drum up support for an anti-Lujan Grisham protest Friday at the Santa Claran.
“Get’r out!” the flyer said. “MLG said: NM are QAnon Lizard People! MLG said: New Mexicans are embarrassing!”
The group’s Facebook page has 131 members and describes itself as a “proactive citizens task force banding together to support individuals and businesses.”
A representative for the group could not be reached for comment through Facebook.
While the event at the casino was canceled, Lujan Grisham did hold a campaign breakfast in Taos on Friday and another event at Northern New Mexico College in Española.
Witmer said it was unclear when the Española meet-and-greet would be rescheduled.
“The Governor is focused on the business of governing,” Witmer wrote. “She saved thousands of New Mexican lives and rolled out one of the most successful vaccine distribution programs in the country. She’s working on rebuilding New Mexico’s economy and accelerating the progress she’s spearheaded for our state in the last two and a half years.”
Thursday’s event did catch the attention of the Society of Professional Journalists, who denounced the treatment of journalists by some of the protesters.
Members of the press reported being berated and harassed. At one point, a protester gave a “Nazi salute” and shouted “Sieg Heil” in the direction of a reporter, according to the organization. Another group of protesters threatened to assault a reporter.
In a post on its website Friday, the board of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Rio Grande Chapter called upon every candidate running for office to call for more support for journalists covering political events.
“Journalists should be able to do so without fearing for their safety — just as all people should have the right to do their jobs without fearing for their safety,” the post read.
No New Mexico governor has lost a reelection campaign in more than 25 years, when incumbent Bruce King lost to Gary Johnson.