dictator.jpg

Ronald Solomon, president of a company that sells ‘conservative and patriotic products,’ displays a T-shirt depicting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as a dictator, which he is selling at the Republican Party of New Mexico’s state convention in Amarillo, Texas. Daniel J. Chacón/The New Mexican

AMARILLO, Texas — Ronald Solomon may be one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest fans.

“I love Donald Trump,” he said. “Oh my God, I love Donald Trump.”

The smooth-talking businessman was among the first faces members of the Republican Party of New Mexico, which is holding its state convention in Texas this weekend to bypass New Mexico’s stricter COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, encountered Friday in the foyer of a downtown Hilton here where the group is meeting.

Solomon, a 6-foot-3, 62-year-old New Yorker who is president of a company that sells MAGA hats and T-shirts and what he calls “other conservative and patriotic products,” said the Republican Party is the party of Trump — and any politician who isn’t in lockstep with the former president risks political suicide.

“I would say that 90 percent of the members of the Republican Party are supporters of the [former] president,” he said, adding that an “overwhelming majority” of county party chairpersons also back Trump.

“Actually, you’ll see a big cleansing in the party of all these Republicans in name only — RINOs as we call them — coming up next fall,” Solomon said. “If these people somehow think they’re going to survive this, they’re going to be destroyed. As a matter of fact, that’s why I made my ‘It’s RINO season’ T-shirt with President Trump in a hunting outfit with his rifle.”

The dispatches have already begun.

The New Mexico Republican Party’s convention, which runs through Sunday and features keynote addresses from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, both outspoken Trump supporters, comes on the heels of GOP lawmakers stripping Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney of her House leadership post after she criticized Trump for his unproven claims of election fraud and then voted to impeach him in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

As the GOP wrestles over whether it’s the party of Trump, some Republicans have discussed the possibility of leaving the party altogether, though it’s a small faction.

Ethel Maharg, executive director of the Albuquerque-based Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, said she was unsure whether the party was grappling with an identity crisis of sorts.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s the party of Trump,” she said. “He’s our president, and he’s Republican, so we stand with our Republican president.”

While the highly energetic pro-Trump base of the party exerts major power, party leaders say the GOP doesn’t belong to any one individual.

“The Republican Party is bigger than any single person,” Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said, though he added that “Trump spoke to a lot of Republicans because he followed through on his commitments.”

Brett Kokinadis, a former congressional candidate who serves as second vice chairman of the Republican Party of Santa Fe, pointed out that Trump is no longer president and that what New Mexico Republicans care about today “is about what’s going to put us on a better track.”

“What we really have to focus on now is New Mexico, the issues in New Mexico,” he said. “It’s not about Trump today. But a lot of the principles that he brought to light about putting Americans first, about putting New Mexico first, that doesn’t matter what president brought those values. He restored patriotism, and he restored what’s important to the people.”

Asked whether candidates for political office would have to be loyal to Trump, Kokinadis said that’s a question for voters to decide.

“I think you’ve created a vacuum from one of the greatest presidents that America has ever seen,” he said.

“He may not have said things the correct way to the media or on Twitter, but you’ll see memes today that say, ‘I’ll take a mean tweet and low gas prices any day,’ ” he added. “I think that the Republican Party is trying to figure out where their leader is now. I think that’s really what’s going on. The president is still there, behind the scenes. We’ve seen him on TV. He’s being questioned about if he’s going to run for reelection, so I think everyone is just going through a process of readjusting and figuring out which way is north again.”

For the Republican Party of New Mexico, the direction was east, at least for its state convention.

“We didn’t get to make the decision; our governor made that decision for us,” said Kim Skaggs, the state GOP’s executive director, referring to mass gathering restrictions under the state’s public health order.

Pearce, a former congressman who ran unsuccessfully for governor against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, echoed that sentiment.

“When we signed all the contracts, New Mexico wasn’t open,” he said. “Yeah, we would’ve preferred to be in New Mexico, but the rules didn’t allow us to set this kind of an event up that far in advance. It’s just the way it turned out.”

In a news release, the Democratic Party of New Mexico said hundreds of New Mexico Republicans traveled to Texas “to hold an unnecessary political convention in a state that they feel better aligns with their values.”

“This political stunt put the NM GOP’s lack of New Mexico values on full display, as they pumped nearly $350,000 into another state’s economy in hopes of creating headlines,” the Democratic Party said.

“The New Mexico GOP has made it clear that their values are more aligned with Texas than with New Mexico,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Jessica Velasquez said in a statement. “While they hold an unnecessary and risky political convention, Democrats will continue to hold our events where we can engage New Mexicans and support local businesses.”

Noem was the keynote speaker Friday night, but the news media was prohibited from covering the event, which the Republican Party of New Mexico dubbed “Operation Freedom/Positive Change for New Mexico.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(30) comments

Michael Kiley

The expat Republicans did two things of importance, they increased the average IQ and vaccination levels of both states, by leaving.

Stefanie Beninato

Ethel Maharg, executive director of the Albuquerque-based Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, said Trump is our Republican president. Guess what? He lost the election fair and square. The other guy was thankfully relieved of his "duties" on 20 Jan 2021 by Joe Biden, a Democrat. Are you insisting that the other guy is STILL president? If so, sounds ignorant and even traitorous. Or did you insist that W was still president after Obama was elected?

ba hop

just more blasphemous proof that the #GOPIsAnAutocraticCult

B H

[thumbup]

William Mee

How is selling or having a t-shirt with Trump with a hunting rifle on it that says: "It's RINO season"---any different than yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater? Or attacking the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in an Insurrection? In a "Civilized" society you have to be somewhat responsible for your actions.

Margaret Romero

I was so disappointed to see the article about the GOP convention. The article shows hate that we have seen for much to long. Daniel Chacon, what do you have to say?

Jim Klukkert

I just want to share Margaret Romero's sentinement that the NM GOP convention certainly seems to show the hate that we have seen for much to long. [thumbup]How could you stand being there, Daniel Chacon, what do you have to say? [smile]

John Cook

Imagine that. The Rs have a hate-filled convention and a journalist shows a picture of it and quotes the haters. Daniel Chacon, what do you have to say.

Judy Montoya

I have always told my children there are two kind of people, good and bad. They come in all colors, sizes and ideologies . I have voted Democrat and Republican, but this display definitely falls in the "bad people" category. Hate is a very strong emotion, and this display is very definitely hateful.

Michael Welsh

Guess it's only fair that Amarillo makes some money from NM visitors. NM makes a lot more from Texas visitors who don't seem to mind that the state is run by a dictator. Maybe there's a story about them as well?

Stefanie Beninato

What? MLG is far from a dictator....Look at the movidas of the other guy who used to inhabit the WH if you want to see a movement toward dictatorship that is still going on with GOP voter suppression/gerrymandering bills.

Angel Ortiz

“I love Donald Trump,” he said. “Oh my God, I love Donald Trump.” Anyone remember January 6th? So reflective of the new and improved GOP.

John Newhagen

What a marvelous idea, move the Republican convention to Amarillo. They should give some thought to staying.

BTW the foto of the T-shirts with Hitler mustaches is offensive on so many levels it verges on hate speech

Margaret Romero

I totally agree

B H

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Marie Turney Morrison

It makes me sick to my stomach that they would dare create such a shirt. This is pure hatred toward the Jews. I prayed silently for everyone of the Jewish faith, to give them my sincere sympathy that once again, they must relive the horror of their ancestors.

Beverly Garcia

Why give this disgusting propaganda front-page coverage? Our governor has taken a lot of heat for trying to save lives. Hitler had no regard for the sanctity of life. Do you really want to perpetuate this propaganda?

Chris Mechels

They're certainly right about one thing, Michelle is a Dictator, full stop. What else can you say when she says she'll veto changes to the PHERA Act to strip her of her "right" to extend emergency rule as she sees fit?

The Legislature passed the PHERA Act, in 2003, and they can modify it as they see fit. It turns out to be a "hack job" which has never been invoked until Covid, and it needs to be reworked.

For Michelle to block that, means she should be impeached. Her little head has grown buzzy from the delicious power. Time to go.... and sober up.

rodney carswell

the wanna-be dictator, is the orange liar with the bad comb over

Stefanie Beninato

[thumbup]

John Cook

Sobering up is good advice. But not for the Governor. Our state constitution, like all other states, provides for a gubernatorial veto of legislation. And it provides for an override by the Legislature. Exercising either of those powers is not dictatorial.

David Ford

Fascism:

a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, and forcible suppression of the opposition.

This is a textbook definition of the GQP retrumplicans and their dear leader. And yet they claim to be American patriots? This is how fascism gets a foothold.

Every robber or oppressor in history has wrapped himself in a cloak of patriotism or religion, or both. When fascism comes it will be wrapped in the flag....

https://youtu.be/eUtfCIK__mI

William Mee

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis / Abraham Lincoln / Einstein

Angel Ortiz

Wrong as usual What needs to go are all the Trumpers and MAGA peeps.

John Cook

Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota was the keynote speaker: "Noem was the keynote speaker Friday night, but the news media was prohibited from covering the event..."

The primary speaker at a political convention insisted on speaking in secret. Wow. I suppose it's because the news media is so evil. They would have reported what she said. The devils.

Stefanie Beninato

[thumbup]

Angel Ortiz

Pearce, the NM GOP, MAGA, they all belong in Texas. Perfect place for them, please stay there.

Russell Scanlon

Hey guys. Why not just put on the pointy white hoods and get it over with?

Edwina Gardner

“The Republican Party is bigger than any single person,” Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said.." Oh the irony of the party that is stuck to Trump like glue.

John Wilson

Wicked, spoiled children think that laws and regulations are Hitler-style oppression? They need to read a little history and lay off the histrionics.

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