According to a report from Politico, members of the New Mexico Republican Party are still reeling from a blow-out loss for an open House seat last week and the finger-pointing has begun.
At issue is the fact that some within the party believe they are still haunted by former president Donald Trump despite the fact that he is out of office --with one Republican lawmaker saying that Trump may have irrevocably damaged the GOP brand in the state.
According to Politico's Bryan Metzger, State Sen. Mark Moores (R) was supposed to put up a good fight for the seat vacated by now Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, but what the Republicans saw instead was 24 point blowout win by Democratic State Rep. Melanie Stansbury that exceeded President Joe Biden's win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
That has set off a round of soul-searching in the southwestern state in a party that some feel has aligned itself too closely with the president that one former New Mexico GOP lawmaker called "toxic."
According to the Politico report, "... Moores' loss last Tuesday highlight deeper problems with the state party's leadership and direction over the last few years—including a turn towards Trumpism that has galvanized some of the party's base but has seemingly turned off swing voters in the state's traditionally purple electorate."
The report notes that New Mexico -- even quicker than neighboring state Arizona -- has been trending blue before Trump, but that may have accelerated under the ex-president.
According to Rod Adair, a Republican consultant in the state, the results of the special election should be a wake-up call for the party.
"The striking thing about the results is that you would expect, in a special election, for the party opposite the White House to get a little bit of a bump. It was actually worse," Adair admitted.
Politico's Metzger pointedly added, "Moores, one of only two Republicans left representing Albuquerque voters in either chamber of the state legislature, even lost his own state senate district by 3.5 points."
"But the problems run deeper than one congressional district. The state party is now caught in a catch-22, beholden to a right-wing, Trumpist base, while struggling to regain the votes of more moderate, suburban voters, like the ones who used to buoy Republicans across the first district," Metzger wrote before quoting one former GOP lawmaker who has a dim view of the immediate future of the GOP in the state.
"I liked Trump's policies, but his rhetoric is toxic, and it hurt people, and I think that Mark got the backlash from that," explained former state senator Lisa Torraco (R). "And the state party hasn't done anything to try to heal that."
According to Politico's Metzger, the inability of the party to distance itself from Trump is due to party boss Steve Pearce.
"Pearce was elected party chair in December 2018, following a 14-point loss to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham in that year's gubernatorial election," the report states. "Following Trump's loss in November, the state party under Pearce fully embraced the narrative of a stolen election—seeking to impound ballots in Bernalillo County; working with the Trump campaign on a lawsuit against the New Mexico secretary of state that sought to invalidate the results of the election; promoting a meeting of unofficial, Republican-appointed electors at the state capitol on December 14; and supporting the Texas election lawsuit before the Supreme Court. A day after the Capitol insurrection, the party issued a statement declaring 'our democracy has been tarnished,' referring not to the sacking of the U.S. Capitol but to the certification of Biden's electoral college victory."
According to Dan Foley, a former state GOP lawmaker, Pearce is crippling the party.
"Look, this is a guy who guaranteed Donald Trump was gonna win New Mexico," Foley stated with Republican donor Mark Veteto chiming in, "I think a lot of us—that aren't saying the election was rigged and that Covid is like the flu, and all the other things that Trump stirred up—are so tired of the Trump message."
You can read more here.