October 21 – Vice President Kamala Harris, who officiated Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s wedding in May, will travel to New Mexico next week to campaign for governor and speak about abortion rights – a big deal in Lujan Grisham’s hotly contested race to keep his job.
Harris will be in Albuquerque on Tuesday to participate in “a moderate conversation about protecting reproductive rights,” according to a media advisory. She will then attend a fundraiser for the incumbent Democrat’s re-election campaign.
Harris’ visit will come less than three weeks after former Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti in Roswell and 15 days before the November 8 midterm elections.
Lujan Grisham has presented herself as a champion of abortion rights, pointing to the repeal of a 1969 law that criminalized abortion in New Mexico among her accomplishments, while insisting that her GOP challenger , a former TV weatherman, is set to ban abortion in the state.
Ronchetti calls himself pro-life, but after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he said he would seek “common ground” with the Legislature to end abortion later in pregnancy.
“I think allowing abortion up to 15 weeks and in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life is in danger is a very reasonable position that most New Mexicoers will support. regardless of their political affiliation,” Ronchetti said in a statement. time.
He has since proposed a constitutional amendment to allow voters to directly decide abortion rights in New Mexico.
“We can work together to put in place something that better aligns with the values of the people of the state of New Mexico,” Ronchetti said during a televised debate earlier this month. “What better way is there to do that than to let everyone have their say.”
Ronchetti’s proposal has drawn criticism from the governor, who says women already have the right to choose in New Mexico.
“Abortion access is on the ballot this year – and there is only one pro-choice gubernatorial candidate,” Lujan Grisham’s campaign wrote in a recent email. fundraising.
Ronchetti’s more moderate stance on abortion since winning the primary has been met with skepticism, especially after the pastor of a megachurch in Albuquerque told his congregation that Ronchetti had told him privately that his goal was to end abortion but that he had to get elected first.
Ronchetti has been featured in news stories and opinion pieces about Republicans trying to soften their stance on abortion ahead of Election Day.
New York Times columnist Gail Collins included Ronchetti in an article published Wednesday.
“New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti was ‘strongly pro-life’ until the uproar following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe,” Collins wrote. “Now his campaign website says he is seeking ‘middle ground’ that would allow abortions ‘in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life is in danger’.”
Collins wrote that Republicans are in a tough spot on the abortion issue.
“The public’s rejection of the court’s decision, along with the stunning vote for abortion rights in a recent statewide referendum in Kansas, has left politicians searching for a way to dodging the anti-choice label. Without, uh, really changing,” she wrote.
Ronchetti’s campaign, meanwhile, used Harris’ upcoming visit to New Mexico to attack Lujan Grisham over a years-old sexual harassment complaint filed against the governor by James Hallinan, his spokesman during his first campaign for governor. Lujan Grisham settled the suit with Hallinan, who accused the governor of grabbing the crotch, for $150,000. The settlement included a non-disclosure agreement.
In a series of tweets, Ronchetti’s campaign shed light on statements the vice president has made in the past about sexual assault.
“I just want to speak to all survivors of sexual assault, and I want to thank you for speaking your truth, for sharing your stories, for having the courage to demand that people understand and hear…and you won’t be silenced,” Harris said in a 2018 video that the Ronchetti campaign retweeted on Thursday. “You deserve to have all the dignity and respect you’ve rightfully earned because you you guys are spoken and your voices mattered.”
“I wonder if @KamalaHarris extends this message to the victim of @Michelle4NM?” the campaign wrote in one of its tweets.
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.