In the year when Donald Trump has all but destroyed the Republican brand with rational voters, Republican candidates are both refusing to denounce him while refusing to put “Republican” on their campaign signs and literature in campaigns across the state.
Take one of the state’s top Republicans: House Majority Leader Nate Gentry. As the most senior Republican in the State House, carrying the Republican brand in his election materials shouldn’t be hard. But he doesn’t.
Gentry, who earned the distinction of serving as the only legislator to serve a term of criminal probation while also serving as a state legislator, has also refused to denounce Donald Trump, even after he mocked a disabled reporter, attacked a Gold Star family and was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women.
The Republican leader is in a tight race against teacher Natalie Figueroa, a Democrat. Last week a Republican Super PAC from Texas announced it was launching negative ads against Figueroa to aid Gentry after early voting numbers showed that he was “in trouble.”
And there is also the case of State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R- ABQ N. Valley). Also in a tight race, the Republican Barnes comes from a well-known mostly Democratic family. She also doesn’t use the “Republican” label on her materials. Instead, she promotes her community work, ignoring her votes supporting bills run by Republican leaders to allow fracking in neighborhoods she represents and new corporate tax cuts instead of police for her community.
Statewide, we tracked more than a dozen Republican candidates who left “Republican” off of their campaign signs and materials. We found no instances where Democrats did the same.
Statewide, Republicans seem to be executing a deliberate strategy to hide their party affiliation from voters in tight districts. NMpolitics.net reported earlier this year that Republicans were skipping voter guides and candidate forums in tight races as well.
New Mexico political followers recall the story of former Secretary of State Dianna Duran who also refused to put the “Republican” brand on her materials when attending events in heavily Democratic Northern New Mexico. In her 2014 re-election, ProgressNowNM found that she painted over the word “Republican” on her signs and her volunteers told us she “didn’t need to be a Republican” in some areas.
After launching quixotic “investigations” of more than 60,000 “illegal voters” (the State Police declined to investigate citing a lack of evidence), Duran resigned and pleaded guilty to felonies for embezzling campaign funds she took in from some of those early campaign events.
Confused? Find candidates on your ballot, along with endorsements from progressive organizations you trust. Progressive Voter Guides for NM at progressivechampions.com