Alexis Martinez Johnson Stands Out, Mark Ronchetti Scouts Republican Debate
Note From The Author: This opinion piece was originally published on April 1, 2020 on a website titled “The Chicano Conservative.” I am reprinting it unedited and unaltered in order to educate the voters for the upcoming June 2, 2020 Republican Primary.
On March 31 at 6:00 PM, a Zoom-based virtual meeting was held for the Republican Candidates running in US House and US Senate in the June 2020 Primaries. In attendance were US Senate Candidates Elisa Martinez and Gavin Clarkson. Mark Ronchetti was not in attendance, and a snarky laugh was noted upon announcement of his lack of attendance by one of the hosts/moderators. For US House NM CD-3, Alexis Martinez Johnson, Harry Montoya and Karen Bedonie (for a short time) were in attendance.
Hosted by Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Brita Horn and Moderated by Rio Rancho Councilman and Sandoval County Republican Party Chair and (former) NM CD-3 Republican Chair Dan Stoddard. The purpose of this meeting was to ask Republican Candidates their view on important issues in a structured format utilizing new technology (telework) as part of the new political / social reality of Corona Virus Quarantine.
Perhaps the most jarring / unexpected moment of the night occurred when the Trump Victory Initiative stated that “any members of the press were banned”, and that no recordings were allowed from this debate. “Members of the Press” were asked to leave, so this could be a ‘friendly forum’. As a conservative, and given that this was a republican forum, I questioned this idea, and as a form of resistance to this ‘silencing’, this blog post was created.
Three questions were asked to the candidates, with audience submitted questions. First an introduction, then first question asked candidate opinion of CARES Act, their opinion of the Green New Deal, and lastly how they will ‘win’ their Election. Each candidate was allowed a one-minute response to each question, and each question was asked and then candidates gave their answer in alphabetical order, based upon first letter of the candidate’s last name. Candidates were ranked according to their performance:
Alexis Martinez Johnson
Alexis Martinez Johnson began her introduction by stating that she lives in Santa Fe with her Husband and four kids. Johnson is Pro-Life and Pro-Second Amendment, she has been calling NM Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to open gun stores. She wants to Reduce Crime, Secure the Borders and Increase Employment. Johnson has professional expertise in negotiations and creating positive solutions.
Regarding the CARES Act, Johnson agreed with swift action for Small Businesses & Taxpayers, and that she is a small business owner who had to lay off 4 families due to current economic climate. Johnson stated that we are all experiencing the effects of a Green New Deal, which is a Fairy Tale social agenda. Johnson toted her experience as an Environmental Engineer as enabling her to be the ‘Anti-Alexandra Ocasio Cortez’. Johnson toted her experience utilizing Natural Resources in her work experience as an engineer. Johnson promoted her Vitality and Expertise, and her professional work experience with federal regulators and focus on solutions. Johnson stated that we must come together & move word with Hard Work, Resiliency and Pride. Johnson has ability to relate to voters.
Alexis Martinez Johnson was the standout among the candidates in this debate due to her youth, vitality and professionalism. Johnson has the strongest and most well-defined conservative values and ability to communicate. Additionally, Johnson seems best equipped to handle digital campaigning and has practice and polish in telecommunication by virtue of her hosting daily ‘virtual town halls’ live on her ‘Alexis Johnson for Congress’ Facebook page.
Elisa began her introduction by stating that she is the only “Native New Mexican” running for US Senate on the Republican Side, that she believes in the Free Market and Lower Taxes, is also Pro-Life and an “Every Day” New Mexican and that she is anti-socialism.
Martinez’s views on the CARES Act is that she is concerned about ‘Pork’, such as NPR, while stating that every day the situation because more serious, and that the CARES Act provided loans to keep doors open for businesses. Martinez stated that the CARES Act is the perfect example of why Republicans must keep the Senate and win the House [of Representatives]. Martinez stated she has been very outspoken on the Green New Deal, and the 2019 Energy Transition Act in NM, which she states is a Transfer of wealth which gives Power & Control to bureaucrats, and that the Green New Deal will cost NM Families $70,000 each. Martinez believes in Free Market Principles, and stated that she will “protect and fight” for Oil & Gas in New Mexico. Martinez believes she will win because she is a Dynamic Candidate who can mobilize voters, and that she can win over Democrats and Northern New Mexicans. She states that she is a “Fighter for the People.”
Elisa Martinez had a strong, polished performance, though she did have a couple of slip ups when prompted by the moderator’s question, it seems that Elisa was part of a team effort with her campaign actively behind the camera, where as, it was my impression that all other candidates were solo with their computer or phone. This ‘teamwork’ produced a more polished format for Elisa Martinez to elucidate on her platform, as she is fighting being labelled as a ‘One Issue Candidate’. Elisa Martinez has an economics degree, and it was during this town hall when her education seemed to shine through as she discussed limited government and reducing taxes, as well as her previous pro-life activism.
Dr. Gavin Clarkson started off with the fact that he is an “Endangered Species”: A Conservative College Professor, while also liking himself to “Dr. Phil.” Clarkson consistently referenced his previous work in the Trump Administration and wants to work in the Senate with Trump. Clarkson is a “Life-Long Pro-Lifer” who attended Harvard Business Law, and was hired by Trump to “Clean Up the Swamp” in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Clarkson has supported Trump’s Policy with China, and claims that he is an “Experienced Hand” and will pursue “China’s Negligence” regarding Corona Virus.
Clarkson’s opinion on the CARES Act is that we must put “money into the hands of consumers” and that there is a climate of extreme hatred of business, and that in the CARES Act there was significant ‘pork’ such as 25 Million to the Kennedy Center. Clarkson stated that the “Green New Deal” is about destruction of the economy of NM, and that he has managed forests in NM, such as the Lincoln National Forest. Also stated that New Mexico is not out of water because of climate change, but because of Forest Management and similar programs. Clarkson’s path to victory is by Focusing on Jobs & the Economy, which he believes is New Mexican’s main concern. Clarkson would Repatriate Supply Chain with his “Frack China” plan. Also has managed Multi-Billion Dollar Coal / Hard Rock “Portfolio”, and Multi-Billion Dollar Oil & Gas Portfolio. He is the only candidate who has “created substantial jobs in New Mexico”. Supports Second Amendment, Pro-Life and is a Veteran.
Gavin Clarkson was close behind Elisa Martinez, but is starting to fall into a very Elizabeth Warren-esque ‘I have a plan for that’ when discussing any campaign issue. For example, today was the second time he discussed his previous experience working with the Trump Administration, and visually displayed a photo of boundary between Mescalero Apache contrasted with the Lincoln National Forest, which is much thicker with trees. The point of this photo is still unclear to me, what his role in either the thickening or thinning of one side of the dividing line. Additionally, eschewing his typical cowboy hat attire, Gavin has taken to wearing a US Navy hat — which we respect his service and all veterans — but also wearing an ear piece which gives him an extremely ‘nerd alert’ look and vibe, which becomes worse when he starts on ‘I have a plan for that’.
In Harry’s Introduction, he toted his Knights of Columbus membership and 16 years as an elected official where he fought for Traditional New Mexican values. Harry stated that he can beat the Democratic Opponent in November 2020 because he is a former Democrat and still has Moderate Democrat friends. Harry concluded his introduction by saying that he is Electable, and that it’s time for Republicans to “Play to Win”, rather than just settling for “Half Time”, which The Chicano Conservative believes he was referencing the Primary Elections as ‘Half Time’.
Describing his views of the CARES Act, Harry stated that more money should have been directed to the Public Health effects of Corona Virus, rather than “select groups”. Harry stated he would have voted for the CARES Act, if in office, because, regarding legislation, “you have to compromise your true beliefs.” Regarding the Green New Deal, Harry stated that we must look at its’ effects on ‘lives’, and stated the he believed in ‘Sustainable Energy’, which we asked a follow up question regarding. Harry’s plan for winning in June and November 2020 hinges on the fact that “I am on the only candidate [NM CD-3] who has held elected office.” That he is doing his part to fight corrupt party politics. Harry states that his values are Honesty, Openness, Freedom and “Prosperity for All.”
Harry Montoya embraces the fact that he is a former democrat, with moderate democrat friends, and believes that he will win in November because he is (basically) a moderate democrat and Theresa Leger Fernandez, the #1 choice by Democrat Delegates, is ‘extremely left’. What stuck out to me the most about Harry’s answers was the fact that he stated that sometimes we must compromise our values in order to win. Additionally, the words, statements and platforms used by Harry are firmly out of the Democrat playbook, such as his belief in “sustainable energy”, his criticism of CARES Act funding going towards ‘public health’ rather than ‘specific groups’. In the opinion of The Chicano Conservative, Montoya must update his language, characterizations, and digital / technical skills to have any chance in November 2020.
Intro: Karen’s introduction was the shortest among all candidates, even shorter than the 1 minute for each response, and she stated that “it’s been difficult”, and that of her four small businesses, three are closed, and only one was deemed “essential” — A residential plumbing business.
Regarding the CARES Act, Karen stated that “we’re looking forward to it.” And that she has personal experience with “huge amounts of socialism.” She continued that “we don’t have the means to stock up.” And stated that socialism is very controlling. Karen was unable to answer any further questions in the debate due to lack of cell-phone reception, and the moderators stated that she had driven over an hour and a half. Throughout the rest of the call, the moderators kept pausing the meeting to inquire regarding Karen’s availability.
Karen received the lowest overall score out of all candidates at 1/10 from The Chicano Conservative due to her victim mentality and inability to overcome personal challenges. Karen’s entire platform seems to be “I am a victim of Socialism and I will promote my plight as a Native American on the Navajo Nation to ‘shame’ the government into further social programs.” It’s unclear to the Chicano Conservative if Karen Bedonie is still in this race.
Conclusion — Remarks Regarding Format / Trump Leadership Initiative
The Trump Leadership Victory Initiative (or whatever it’s called) are very clearly completely out of touch of the current political reality, environment and sentiment. For Example, these ‘friendly debates’ should have been held December 2019. Given political reality and timing, it was laughable to make this a ‘friendly debate’ in which press was ‘banned’, and for this to be for practice. At this time in the election cycle, candidates need to get their messaging out there through video / websites / social media. The ultimate cherry on top that demonstrates their entire out of touch, was after the debate, they asked the candidates “after quarantine is ended, what is the first thing you’re going to do?” with a big dumb grin. This question was designed to be ‘folksy’/’warming’ for the candidates to ‘show their softer side’, so maybe they should have asked that question to start the candidacy, but after the end of a long meeting, at the end of a long day, during the height of quarantine, where you required 5 republican candidates to each devote a full hour of time, ‘for fun / practice’, and banning the press was so out of touch with the political reality of today that I wonder what else the Trump Victory Leadership Team is wrong about.