Contrary to popular belief, former Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján have similar styles and much in common.

They are relentless in bombarding the public with commentary on what matters most to them.

It’s money for Luján. Having the biggest campaign treasury is his way of minimizing challengers and crushing competitors. If a dollar is at stake, Luján never worries about being overbearing or redundant in his solicitations.

Trump operates the same way, though at age 74 his fixation is different. Once a reality television personality, Trump is more obsessed than ever about ratings, even though he’s no longer on the air consistently.

Trump’s specialty is using rating points to vilify his critics.

“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,” Trump wrote in a statement last week. “His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our country together.”

Comment: Sounds like the pot calling the kettle white. Trump didn’t mind divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning rants when he made them against Maxine Waters, Megyn Kelly, Don Lemon, Ted Cruz and others. I’d name more names, but the boss likes me to keep my column under 1,000 words.

Trump pays attention to the ratings of all sorts of organizations, friend and foe alike.

“Congratulations to One America News on their great great ratings surge. Also for their great love of the United States of America!” he wrote.

Comment: Trump values the exclamation point as much as the rating point.

He also offered his expertise on how to improve Hollywood’s annual TV show.

“What used to be called The Academy Awards and now is called the ‘Oscars’ — a far less important and elegant name — had the lowest Television Ratings in recorded history, even much lower than last year which set another record low,” Trump wrote in another statement. “If they keep with the current ridiculous formula, it will only get worse — if that’s possible. Go back 15 years, look at the formula they then used, change the name back to THE ACADEMY AWARDS, don’t be so politically correct and boring, and do it right. ALSO, BRING BACK A GREAT HOST.”

Comment: Trump won’t impress the academy with run-on sentences. But his argument for a charismatic host shouldn’t be ignored. Michelle Obama would be an inspired choice.

Luján, the freshman senator from New Mexico, sends out just as many statements as Trump. The difference is every rant from Luján and his handlers is about money.

“Folks, we need to explain something. Between everything that’s going on in Washington and Ben Ray’s work and travel, we have fallen behind on our fundraising goals for the first end-of-quarter deadline. … Instead of pulling Ben Ray away from doing his job to fundraise, we hope to make up this shortfall with your help.”

Comment: Luján’s six-year term began in January. If he sees the need to neglect work in the Senate to raise money for a campaign in 2026, he’s making a strong case for term limits — his own.

Many of Luján’s solicitations for cash are so hokey he should spend some of his campaign war chest on a speechwriter.

“Folks, I’ll be honest. Growing up as a Head Start kid, I never expected to run for Senate,” Luján wrote.

Comment: Since Head Start is for children 5 and younger, it would be an upset if any of them planned to run for the Senate.

In the same solicitation, Luján mixed in a misleading version of his family history.

“My dad was an ironworker and my mom retired from our public schools. Growing up on a small farm in New Mexico, my family didn’t have much but we had each other. … I’m fighting for you because you deserve to have a senator who stands up for you and has your back. Now I’m asking you to have my back, too.”

Comment: Luján neglected to mention that his father was speaker of the state House of Representatives. Dad’s influence with lobbyists and donors was considerable. It enabled Ben Ray, a one-time blackjack dealer who hadn’t graduated from college, to win his first political office, a $90,000-a-year job on the state Public Regulation Commission.

Ben Ray was on his way to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and then the Senate.

If Trump was born with a golden spoon, Ben Ray had one that was sterling silver.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at or 505-986-3080.

(39) comments

Khal Spencer

When I get these emails begging me for money, I just hit the "take me off your mailing list" button that is usually in tiny print at the bottom. The folks to whom I write checks get those checks because I reach out to them as much as they reach out to me.

For those pols who have a deep war chest and who routinely get fat checks from big corporate or political action committee donors? Get lost.

Michael Kiley

Trump is sui generis and failed comparison I classic category error.

Michael Kiley

Trump is sui generis evil. Failed comparisons to a sui generis dead man walking are classic category error. You didn't lasso our US Senator because you had no rope.

Katherine Martinez

Please. Any comparisons are irrelevant. The bachelor Senator will have plenty of rope, and time to hang himself. #NewMexicoLast #50th

Katherine Martinez


Thank you for this refreshing commentary, as refreshing as today’s rain. Unless we call out these potentially entrenched politicians, they will have a 30+ year life time appointments as New Mexico continues to rank at the bottom of most lists. Whether you compare him to Trump is irrelevant. Even still, it will remain up to the voters in his district to decide, and sadly I don’t have much faith in that constituency.

Melissa Savage

A very far-fetched comparison.

ba hop


seems your comparing apples to turnips tho....

One is a Used Car Salesman/Carnival Barker only concerned w/ his own Narcisitic Ego -- the other is only playing by the rules of the system that Citizens United allows -unregulated dark corporate & foreign money to influence our elections. numerous politicians have claimed that they need to fundraise constantly to stay competitive in a heavily skewed & unfair electoral system.

in recent times - Dems have historically garnered a greater percentage of votes nationally yet #GOPMinorityRule continues from mangled & racist gerrymandered districts, disproportionately misrepresented constituencies from a flawed Electoral College system -as well as 40 years of voter suppression policy. in many red states like Ohio Indiana & the Carolinas, Dems need up to 10% more votes to be elected to the same office? yet red states are moving to restrict even MORE voters all based on their Cult Leader's #BigLie

the #ForThePeople Act in congress right now would even a fair playing field but the Cult of tRump is lockstep against it bc they know their policies are not popular & they have no ideas or solutions for our myriad of problems - other than tax cuts for the 1%? welcome to a clear choice for the future of our country. get the Money out-- or get the Ego out...

Emily Hartigan

I'm new here.

Mostly, I like Milan's columns .

But this one makes no sense. Must be something personal with Milan, because on the surface, to equate a guy who keeps his eye [let's say too much, for argument] on the campaign war chest and the most despicable person ever to enter the White House is a non-sequitur.

Randy Barron

Exactly. There is nothing different about Luján’s fund-raising solicitations from those of every other politician ever. Whatever burr got under Mr. Simonich’s saddle, it doesn’t have anything to do with our Senator doing his job in DC.

Diane Denish

Exactly....thanks for this comment Randy.

Dottie Butler

You can't make a difference if you can't get yourself elected. Lujan had a closer than expected general election fight and needed every cent he could raise to defeat the national Republican Party's efforts to avoid a 50 - 50 tie in the Senate. What your politics are matter especially against a criminal fascist like Donald Trump.

Trump is fighting exclusively for his own personal financial best interests.

Democrats need every penny they can raise because the super-rich and corporations continue to overwhelmingly support Trump's Republican Party.

joe martinez

Ben Ray did not grow up poor as he implies. His dad worked at Los Alamos and any job there kept you out of poverty. And you didn't, and still don't, have to register Democrat; as you do to work for the state or the city or the county or.....

Our senator has taken the title away from Sen Hirono of Hawaii. But it's always the voters the voters the voters who place them there. Winston Churchill had a point when he said that the best argument against Democracy was 5 minutes with the average voter.

Paul Davis

Churchill also said that democracy was the worst form of government ... except for all the others.

Lee DiFiore


Tim Herrera

Spot on Milan. This is the first commentary that I can say is 100% correct. Senator Lujan is the greatest New Mexico fund raiser of all time. Notice fundraiser, not effective politician. He learned to fool his constituents that he had their best interests in mind from another BS’er, the Late Speaker of the House. His father’s fund raising skills from lobbyists in the halls of the Roundhouse are legendary. Did his dad take it with him? No. Neither will Senator Lujan. In the meantime the sheep that felt that they had to vote for him because he is Hispanic and Democrat get what they voted for, an ineffective Senator that will do for them what he did for them as Representative for 12 years, Nothing!! You get what you pay for.

Andrew Lucero


rodney carswell

however, it remains true that "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows".

Tim Herrera

It's because you and Bob Dylan blow. Ronchetti exposed Lujans ignorance in the debates and bright up the true fact that being Pelosis right hand he couldn't use that clout to help New Mexico. It's people like you that voted for party over substance.

Diane Denish

Milan has always had a bee in his bonnet about Ben Ray Lujan but this one stretches it. Maligning someone for their longtime history and upbringing in New Mexico (where exactly were you then Milan?) .....rather than an indepth look at their policy positions, successes or failures. Milan -- stick to stories like Furr's Cafeterias closing, better for your readers and The New Mexican.

Mark Ortiz

Bitter much Denish? Jesus Christ! You corporate Dems are almost as much of a cancer to this planet and it's inhabitants as the GOP. Because of you and Bill's arrogant elitist ways, YOU lost to Susanna of all people. Trump and BenRay's behavior, begging unnecessarily for their God called money, is the point of the story. You trying to stay relevant commenting on stories in the SFNM reminds me on a sooooo much smaller scale to she (and her husband/daughter) who will not go crawl under a rock, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's sad Diane, but nowhere near as sad as BenRay's solicitations. These power/money starving creatures on both the blue and red teams are running things for their corporate masters and the majority of the United States/Global citizens are getting the shaft. But hey, Go Dems right?

Mike Johnson

Well said Mark, thank you!

Comment deleted.
Jim Klukkert

Okay Mr. DiFiore, abusive language may not be the last refuge of folks like you without credible argument, but it is also against the Community Standards of the SFNM website.

Is it really necessary to use the term 'dims' regarding the Democratic Party? Do you enjoy seeing your posts removed Lee? Abusive catcalling is a pattern of yours, Lee.

Tim Herrera

👍Right on Mark

Tim Herrera

Right on Mark.👍

Richard Reinders

[thumbup][thumbup] well said

Diane Denish

Just fyi...I have no reason to be bitter as there is lots of life after politics and I am enjoying life and still focusing on good work for NM.....but I am a consumer of the news and Milan's columns... ...and Milan stretches his criticisms of Ben Ray every time he writes. A bee in his bonnet, a burr under his saddle, a slow news day whatever motivates a lousy column like this. Yep, money in politics is out of control, I agree.

Randy Barron


Cleve Spence

Milan needs to bury trump! There are millions of better topics for columns out there!

Stan Biderman


Susan Waller

It is a discredit to your column to paint our governor and D J Trump with the same paintbrush. Shame on you.

Stefanie Beninato

Did you read the column? Ben Ray is not the governor of NM. Michelle Lujan Grisham is. And yes it is confusing with all these Lujans in office--Ben Ray's cousin is now a representative in Congress.

Lee DiFiore

Living proof there needs to be an intelligence test in order to vote.

Richard Reinders


B. Rosen

The real problems in US politics have two main sources: race and money. The white majority in our country has shrunken steadily for many years and while they continue to make up the single largest ethnic group in the country, they are no longer more than 50% of the entire population. Trump offered them the option of doing away with our democracy as a way to continue white control. We have never really been able to overcome our race problems here in the US, the whole MAGA nonsense was predicated on the idea that things were better when white males had complete control. The other huge problem we have is money in our politics. We have an entire political party that cannot even accept the science behind climate change because they are bought and sold by the monied interests behind much of that pollution. Both parties are so beholden to the folks cutting their checks, nobody believes anything they promise during the elections anymore because we all know whose calls they’ll be taking once they’re in office.

Paul Davis

> "The white majority in our country has shrunken steadily for many years and while they continue to make up the single largest ethnic group in the country, they are no longer more than 50% of the entire population."

Last time I looked, this wasn't likely to be true until somewhere between 2041 and 2046.

Lynn k Allen

I am truly enjoying these times when we are NOT bombarded by Trump. I am grateful NOT hearing about Trump & his hate spewing.

Can't you find anything better to do?

Ann Maes

The ego’s of politicians never cease to amaze me!

Richard Reinders

The climb to success is easy when your dad provides the ladder.

Jim Klukkert

That is something that both the former President and the current junior Senator share, daddies with ladders.

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