As someone who has been a statewide candidate, I know the pressures one feels as the weeks disappear. Polls are starting to emerge. Money gets tighter. And sometimes candidates retreat from or alter earlier positions – especially if they are running behind.
Such is the case with the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Mark Ronchetti. Three recent polls show Ronchetti is behind. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a 12-point lead in one poll (Survey USA) and a 7-point lead in another (Research and Polling in the Albuquerque Journal).
And, on abortion, his position keeps changing.
Ronchetti has a new 30-second commercial with yet another new idea about having someone else make healthcare and reproductive choices for women.
Let’s acknowledge at the outset that Ronchetti’s stances on abortion are as varied as his weather predictions were on the New Mexico map. One day, he’s against “abortion at all stages.” Another day, he’s endorsed by Right to Life whose stance is to end abortion, period. Then he applauded the recent Supreme Court decision ending Roe v. Wade. But as the outrage about the decision increased, he began to waffle.
Suddenly, he announced he wanted to craft a compromise for a 15-week ban with some exceptions. Ironically, he was outed by mega-church pastor, Steve Smotherman, who revealed a conversation with Ronchetti. The pastor announced to his congregation that Ronchetti assured him this was just “a first step to help him get elected.” Then, he would work to ban all abortions. A video of Smotherman’s comments, which Ronchetti denies, went viral.
Now comes his most recent commercial on abortion. Seated comfortably with his wife beside him, he claims, “No politician should make this decision for you.” It’s a personal issue, he says. Let the voters decide.
Here is what he is really saying: Let politicians make all the decisions. Why? Because that’s how New Mexico ballot amendments work.
Under N.M. law, there are two methods available to put issues on the ballot. They both involve politicians, also known as legislators.
The most common method is by constitutional amendment. This process requires a joint resolution, sponsored by a legislator (aka politician). It must pass both legislative chambers. Legislators decide the exact wording of the resolution and the timing of the election. The governor has nothing to do with it.
Alternatively, there is a way that has never been successful in New Mexico history. Under this method a politician (aka legislator) must introduce a law. It must pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed into law by a governor who is also a politician. Next, the people may challenge the law and force a vote.
An equally key point is the language in the New Mexico Election Code. Section 1-16-8 provides the following: “In no case shall a nonbinding or merely advisory question be placed on the ballot for any election held pursuant to the Election Code.”
Ronchetti’s idea as proposed is exactly that, advisory.
His commercial is short on specifics and long on rhetoric. It underscores Ronchetti’s lack of knowledge and experience. He either doesn’t know the law or is desperate and willing to mislead voters at this late date.
Regardless, a personal decision is different from the collective will of voters. And it’s a terrible way to make healthcare policy.
It’s already possible to go online and request your absentee ballot. Early in-person voting begins Oct. 11 and Election Day is Nov. 8. The pressure is on. No telling what Ronchetti will propose next related to women’s private healthcare decisions. I guess it depends on which way the wind is blowing
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Ronchetti's position on abortion is blowing in the wind