Last week, New Mexico weatherman and former Vermont resident, Mark Ronchetti announced his candidacy on the Republican ticket in the crowded U.S. Senate race to replace outgoing Democrat Sen. Tom Udall. Although some may be quick to embrace the longtime weatherman based on his television persona, the machine behind his candidacy and his past should be carefully scrutinized before blindly supporting the mainstream media personality.
For all the years Ronchetti has worked for left-wing mainstream media CBS affiliate KRQE News 13, not once have New Mexicans seen him supporting conservative causes on the air or off the air in his free time, as our state has become bluer and bluer on the electoral map.
While Ronchetti read the weather and took paychecks from anti-conservative and Trump-hating media, he made a conscious choice to put his career first instead of standing up for the causes he now conveniently professes to support. It’s easy to say “I’m pro-life,” or “I support the 2nd amendment,” but what has he done to show for it? Not much. The word opportunist comes to mind.
According to FEC data and New Mexico Secretary of State data, not a single political donation has been made by Mark Ronchetti to any candidate, political action committee, or party, ever.
Although Ronchetti claims he’s now “concerned that Washington is standing in the way of [a] bright future,” he suddenly wants to help change the direction—but the “change” he seeks for New Mexico requires him becoming a U.S. Senator.
NeverTrumpers, Liberal mainstream media back Mark Ronchetti
When Ronchetti announced his candidacy, leftist media (including his former employer) plastered the airwaves and newspapers with favorable press. In fact, KOB 4 ran his entire three-minute campaign announcement video, as well as KOAT 7—without mentioning any other candidate in the race. These free advertisements should be listed as in-kind donations to his campaign.
The leftist Santa Fe New Mexican tried to elevate the weatherman to “celebrity status” by comparing him with former well-known politicians. The mainstream media personality has seemed to captivate the leftist media machine with his entrance into the race. But then again, up until last week, he was one of them.
In addition to the over-the-top favorable coverage the mainstream media personality received, his candidacy has drawn NeverTrump Republicans off the bench.
Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, a close ally of Susana Martinez, and “tied at the hip” with Jay McCleskey took to Twitter to praise Ronchetti’s entrance in the race, while conveniently having the weatherman on his radio show the day he announced.
White worked with Ronchetti while at KRQE 13 News after leaving the New Mexico Department of Public Safety during the Gary Johnson administration.
White and others associated with Ronchetti’s campaign are hardly conservative Republicans. In fact, White endorsed Gary Johnson over Donald Trump in 2016, appeared in campaign commercials for Martinez, and now is a recreational marijuana legalization advocate. White’s marijuana company donated $11,000 to radical Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign, which helped her win her seat as governor.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s embattled former advisor Jay McCleskey, also appears to be involved in Ronchetti’s campaign, according to some sources.
McCleskey’s political machine has been involved in a number of moderate “RINO” campaigns including most notably, Jeb Bush, Heather Wilson, Susana Martinez, former Albuquerque Mayor RJ Berry, Darren White’s failed congressional campaign and others.
McCleskey’s reputation for his slash and burn campaign style has caused deep divisions within the Republican party between his brand of moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans within the party. One former McCleskey staffer said, “He will do anything to win, no matter what it takes. … He will destroy you as an opponent.”
McCleskey ran NeverTrump Republican Monty Newman’s unsuccessful 2018 bid for Congress, helping Rep. Xochitl Torres Small flip the Republican district blue. It cannot be confirmed or denied whether McCleskey is behind anti-Trump candidate Claire Chase’s congressional run for the seat in New Mexico’s 2nd District.
McCleskey’s wife, Nicole, is a pollster closely tied to Gov. Susana Martinez and served as lead pollster for liberal Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign against Trump in 2015-16. Coincidentally (or possibly not), Susana Martinez now works with anti-Trump Republican Jeb Bush’s education nonprofit “Foundation for Excellence in Education.” While governor, Martinez pushed for the failed “Common Core” system, further harming New Mexico’s education system.
Sitting on a data mine of polling from McCleskey’s wife will no doubt help Ronchetti know exactly what to say. But will New Mexicans actually see who he is, or just an airbrushed, poll-tested, ready-for-TV Xochitl Torres Small-sounding politician, well-taught in avoiding answering questions?
Another Susana Martinez defender Rod Adair, a former state legislator and Trump critic, praised Ronchetti on his blog, “New Mexico Political Journal,” claiming Ronchetti will carry Bernalillo County—due to his former boss’ proximity to the metropolitan area.
Who is Mark Ronchetti?
In his campaign video, Mark Ronchetti says he doesn’t support some of President Donald Trump’s “tweets and soundbites,” which shows his hesitancy to support the President. Anyone who initially comes to a campaign ready to disagree with the leader of their party, cannot be a reliable vote for conservative principles, much like Sens. Mitt Romey or Lisa Murkowski, who have a penchant to take jabs at Trump. If Ronchetti is elected to the Senate, how would we know how he will vote, especially regarding our current President, who he might have to work with at least another four years?
In a statement, Ronchetti wrote, “Hatred for your political opponents can never be stronger than your love of New Mexico—when it is, nobody wins,” yet he may have hired the single most divisive campaign manager possible, who ruthlessly ruins political enemies, despite the political ramifications for his party, and the state.
The baggage tied to Ronchetti’s prominent backers, his membership as a mainstream liberal media personality, not to mention his hesitancy to embrace President Trump, shows just how many questions still remain about the new candidate for Senate and where his priorities lay. Other than what he has told us, we know nothing about him, which should raise many eyebrows to his candidacy.
2020 is such a vital election, since President Trump is on the ballot, and his team looks to win the great state of New Mexico. If we put a weak Republican on the top of the ticket, it will hurt candidates across the state, and it is not a time to take a chance on a candidate who has never proven his conservative principles before. This election, more than any other, we need to reach more women, Hispanics, millennials, and other groups. It’s clear there are other candidates who exemplify a unifying pro-New Mexico message and can reach these groups, not to mention stand by President Trump in the process.
This is not an election in which we should gamble on a candidate just because we’ve seen them reading us the weather on the local news. We must make educated decisions based on proven experience—and Mark Ronchetti just doesn’t have that.