A man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend four days after he got out of prison has become a central figure in the New Mexico governor’s race amid Republican assertions Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is responsible for his early release.

Christopher Beltran, 27, has become a poster boy for what Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti and the Republican Governors Association have characterized as Lujan Grisham’s soft-on-crime policies that have made New Mexico a dangerous place to live.

Both Ronchetti and the RGA have cited the Beltran case in attack ads that pin his “early” release — and the subsequent killing of Dominique Gonzales of Roswell — on Lujan Grisham.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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