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Did New Mexico's Dem Governor Cheat During a Debate in 2018?


It’s a race that could be a pick-up for Republicans, but the ground isn’t nearly as good as Nevada or Arizona. New Mexico Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti is within the margin of error in his race to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Yet, there is some intrigue regarding how Grisham won her 2018 election, with Ronchetti obtaining text messages from an employee at KOB4, a local NBC affiliate, showing this person allegedly colluding with the Grisham campaign. They would feed her some of the questions to be asked in a debate (via Fox News):


Republican candidate for New Mexico governor Mark Ronchetti alleged Wednesday that his opponent was shown at least a portion of the questions posed to her in a 2018 debate when she was initially running for governor. 

Ronchetti alleges that an employee with local station KOB-TV intentionally leaked specific questions and topics to the Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign in order to give her an edge in the debate. 


The employee allegedly followed the message, saying, "I've known her for such a long time. Sorry, I am rambling." 

The messages were reportedly sent to the campaign on Oct. 4, 2018. The debate discussed did not take place until Oct. 18.

In a statement, KOB-TV Vice President and GM Michelle Donaldson denied that the station "colluded" with the Grisham campaign, and said if any staff member did so, the person would be let go. 


The messages included appear to contain a near-identical text to the teleprompter script for the debate.


Albuquerque Journal investigated the allegations, quoting a former KOB reporter who said the messages were sent by a former “disgruntled” employee who is no longer employed with the station:

The apparent text messages including debate questions were posted to social media this week by Thomas Grover, an Albuquerque attorney.

Grover said in a Thursday interview he received the records anonymously and did not know who had received the text messages. He also said he had not altered the records in any way, that he believed them to be legitimate and that he had additional text messages that he had not yet posted. 

In response to the postings, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham’s campaign did not say specifically Thursday whether the governor had seen or received any questions in advance of the debate, but accused Ronchetti of “cooking up bizarre and ridiculous conspiracy theories about Gov. Lujan Grisham’s 2018 victory.” 


In a tweet, former KOB reporter Chris Ramirez said the messages in question appear to have been sent by a “disgruntled staffer” who is no longer with the station. 

“That one person has eroded the trust that local journalists work to earn every day in this community,” said Ramirez, who now works as a communications manager for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

It’s part of Ronchetti’s campaign strategy to portray Grisham as a cheater. Will it work is the better question since New Mexico has been decidedly blue in past cycles. The GOP has better pick-up chances in Arizona and Nevada, but this debate collusion/cheating scandal should be looked at further. It’s also sadly not all that surprising coming from Democrats.


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