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Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce, left, escorts U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio to deliver the keynote address of the second day of the party’s state convention in Texas on Saturday night.

AMARILLO, Texas — The future of the Republican Party of New Mexico is taking shape in a neighboring state.

While the optics of holding its annual convention and doing its political planning in Texas are less than ideal, Republicans felt somewhat powerless in their decision, saying COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings that Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham imposed on New Mexico left them with little choice.

In all candor, feeling powerless has become a harsh reality for Republicans in New Mexico in recent years. And no, that’s not fake news.

Democrats control each of the three centers of political power in the state — the office of the governor and both chambers in the Legislature. All statewide offices are also held by Democrats. And of the five members of Congress, only one is a Republican, though the GOP hopes to score a win during a special election June 1 for the 1st Congressional District.

“When we flip this seat, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi only has a two-vote margin,” state Sen. Mark Moores, an Albuquerque Republican running for the seat, told an enthusiastic crowd of Republicans during a “call to action” breakfast Saturday morning.

“We need to save this country, and that’s what this is all about,” he said.

Getting more Republicans into elective office is also what it’s all about for the New Mexico GOP.

During the weekend convention, which ends Sunday, a big topic of conversation was how the party can get more Republicans elected. Though a panel discussion on “finding candidates and running for office” was off-limits to the news media, party leaders and members of the GOP spoke openly about capitalizing on what they called New Mexicans’ shared conservative values, particularly among minority voters.

“We’re never going to win New Mexico with 30-second TV ads. We’re not,” party Chairman Steve Pearce told Republicans. “You’re going to have to take your values into communities that typically reject us. I went into areas that said they’ve never seen a Republican before, and they listened.”

Clint Harden, a former state senator and New Mexico labor secretary who now works as a lobbyist, said Republicans need to make up ground in the metropolitan areas of the state.

“The challenge, if you will, is to replace the progressive wing of the Democrat Party in the Rio Grande corridor,” he said. “We don’t have any trouble with electing Republicans up and down the east side of the state, and the same on the west side, but the vote coming out of the Rio Grande corridor affects the entire state.”

Harden, who prefers to frame the issue as progressives versus conservatives instead of Democrats versus Republicans, said the party needs to figure out how it can help Bernalillo County, the most populous county in the state, elect more conservative candidates.

Though he said he doesn’t know the solution, personal outreach has to be in the mix.

“If you have family or friends in Bernalillo [County], the Rio Grande corridor, call them,” he said. “Word of mouth is great advertising.”

Pablo Martinez, chairman of McKinley County’s Republican Party, said he plans to deliver a personal message to voters.

“My goal and my plan is to reach out to Native Americans on the reservation … and let them know that they’re not forgotten and that traditionally they are conservatives at heart,” said Martinez, who is a quarter Zuni and a quarter Navajo.

“Native American heritage and beliefs are rooted in conservative views and values,” he added.

Louie Sanchez, an Albuquerque business owner who sought the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2020, said the party has to improve in two areas to get more Republicans into elective office: its message and its messengers.

“If you take New Mexico as a whole, 50 percent of the state is Hispanic, so this new — and I’m calling it the new Republican Party — they’re looking at diverse candidates,” he said. “They’re trying to be inclusive and to show that basically the old guard has gone away, and we need to go in a new direction in the future to sustain the party.”

Sanchez said Republicans have always had the “reputation or the stigma” of being the party of rich, white men.

“This is not grandpa’s old Republican Party,” he said. “This is the new Republican Party, and I kind of like where it’s going. If you go into the [convention meeting] room, yes, there are Anglos. But there’s also a lot of Hispanics in that room. There’s Blacks in the room. There’s Native Americans in that room. We have Asians in the room. If this was the Republican Party of old, it would be a bunch of white, rich men.”

State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, said the party faces a difficult job “when the media and the narrative out there” is that Republicans are rich, white people.

“That’s not who I am,” she said, adding that her family is Cherokee and that she was the first person in her family to go to college.

“I identify with New Mexicans, and we share the same values,” she said. “I know that what New Mexicans value is family, and they value freedom.”

Dow may take that message statewide. She said she hasn’t ruled out a run for governor.

In a videotaped message to the New Mexico GOP, Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said she was as optimistic as she’s ever been “as we set our sights on 2022 and beyond.”

“Republicans across America are uniting around our shared values, and we are holding [President] Joe Biden and Democrats’ feet to the fire over their failed policies,” she said. “Come November next year, we are going to win back our House and Senate majorities, and then we’re going to put a Republican president back in office in 2024.”

Her remarks generated loud applause from Republicans.

But only time will tell whether the clapping will translate into votes at the polls.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(21) comments

Craig O'Hare

A huge majority of Republicans continue to promote The Big Lie - claiming that the Presidential election was "stolen". Shame on all of them for disrespecting our great nation's democracy.

William Mee

So they say this is all about the NEW REPUBLICANS---I guess that is about the ones who will not accept election results, think Russia is our new best friend, and believe Insurrection is the only way to govern. Because that is the NEW REALITY they are in. Especially when they deny these things ever happened.

Jason Evans

Did Grisham save lives or cause undue economic harm and mental anguish? And did Grisham fight for NM in the face of Biden's oil and gas restrictions?

I think that's how the debate will be framed.

Jim Klukkert

Governor Lujan-Grisham, Mr. Jason Evans, fights along side of President Biden, attempting to stem Global Climate Disruption, by, among other things, restricting the dangerous & outdated practices of the oil & gas industry.

I disagree with our Governor on many counts. But for her oppostition to the free wheeling ways of Oil & Gas, and many other reasons, Governor Michele Lujan-Grisham is almost assured an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans supporting her re-election.

Jason Evans

Two months ago, Grisham asked Biden for an exemption/waiver from his oil/gas restrictions. Are you not aware? I'm not advocating one way or the other, but if you're going to rebut my comment, at least have the facts in hand, Jim Klukkert.

Jim Klukkert

Mr. Evans, I noted that "I disagree with our Governor on many counts," which includes the Governor's request for 'an exemption/waiver from his oil/gas restrictions.' I do think the Governor opposes the antiques and" free wheeling ways of Oil & Gas." MLG certainly is miles different from anyone the GOP will put in opposition to her candidacy. Failing a credible alternative to MLG's left, I will support her candidacy, as will a substantial majority of New Mexicans.

Other than that, I bow before your scolding, Mr. Evans.

Like me, have you been involved in many campaigns, Mr. Evans, or have your efforts thus far been at your keyboard?

v I disagree with our Governor on many counts. But for her oppostition to the free wheeling ways of Oil & Gas, and many other reasons, Governor Michele Lujan-Grisham is almost assured an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans supporting her re-election.

LeRoy Sanchez

👍

LeRoy Sanchez

🤣

Daniel Valdez

It is so funny to read all the comments by all the white, snowflake, left wing, socialist, democrat mob. The insecurities and hypocrisy are on full display. [lol][lol]

Carolyn DM

Please keep holding your conventions in Texas, where your lack of morals and trash politics fit in perfectly!! Steve Pearce right next to Gym Shorts Jordan!! How appropriate!!

LeRoy Sanchez

🤣

Devin Bent

If the GOP wants to lose elections in New Mexico, what does it do?

A. Hold the convention in a state with a history of military invasions of New Mexico.

B. Abandon conservatism for Trumpism.

C. Invite right-wing nuts to address the convention.

D. Abandon all pretext of moderation.

If you answered all of the above, you are the New Mexico GOP and you win. First prize is a week in Texas. Second prize is two weeks in Texas.

Al Chavez

That NM Republicans took their convention to Texas shows their true colors. We need a governor Armijo to order the NM National Guard to intercept and send them all back to Texas. ?Que no? :)

Margaret Eyler

That NM Republicans took their convention to Texas shows the ridiculous lack of freedoms we have in this state. No mater what your cause, the govnuh wants to make sure people can't get together to share ideas and build relationships.

Jim Klukkert

Margaret Eyler- does your mater get along with your pater? One trusts that they were able to share ideas and build relationships, no matter what the distance.

Carl Friedrichs

The problem for the New Mexico Republican party is the former guy, they are still enthralled with him and his attack everybody message still being echoed by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. But it will be a while before the non aligned voters forget he tried to foment an insurrection. It doesn't help when they bring in one of his cronies, Jim Jordan. In New Mexico, Republicans have not won statewide since 2014 and have not swung the state into the R column in the Presidential election since 2004 when they squeaked out a 0.7% win with an incumbent President. Bashing Biden as a socialist isn't going to produce a winning strategy. Reject the hate stuff, get rid of nut cases like Couy Griffin and start thinking long term past MLG who will cruise to reelection in the next cycle. Republicans need a consistent positive message about the benefits of a free market society, but, they also have to realize the public sector is not evil but a necessary part of society.

John Cook

Carl Friedrichs you are talking the kind of sense that has no place, at all, in the modern Republican party.

Dottie Butler

"When we flip this seat..." Not going to happen.

The convention of the living dead in Amarillo is what the GOP convention in Amarillo really is.

Republicans are afraid to hold the convention in New Mexico. They'll get more publicity holding it in Texas, not good publicity but at least publicity.

They might as well stay in Texas for all the good it's going to do them.

Trump's Republican Party really is like the living dead.

The resemblance is amazing.

Their fate identical.

Margaret Eyler

You're triggered and everything you said is false. :D

Jim Klukkert

Dottie may be triggered but at least her mater is safe!

Jim Klukkert

Additionally Ms. Margaret Eyler, Dotties comments are not deleted by the SFNM web moderator, nor does she threaten to sneeze in the face of those with whom she disagrees.

Final Score:

Butler 2, Eyler 0.

Recap at 11!

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