Pearce, Lujan Grisham air attack ads
One assails Dem candidate’s tenure in state government; other links Republican to Trump
SANTA FE — With the finish line of a bruising election cycle in sight, New Mexico gubernatorial candidates Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham are exchanging a new round of haymakers via television airwaves.
Both candidates launched television ads Friday with pointed accusations.
In Pearce’s new ad, the Republican seeks to turn one of Lujan Grisham’s perceived strengths — her experience in state government — into a weakness by highlighting certain aspects of her tenure as state Health Department secretary and her abrupt resignation in 2007.
The 30-second ad cites a 2012 quote from Lujan Grisham that the position was the “hardest job on the planet.”
It also refers to a 1997 dispute between an ombudsman with what’s now the Aging and Long-Term Services Department and Lujan Grisham, then the agency’s secretary, over alleged interference with the ombudsman’s duties.
The ombudsman reportedly had complained that Lujan Grisham blocked a letter he wrote about an unlicensed Albuquerque nursing home, but the nursing home eventually made changes to comply with the law, and a regional federal administrator found no other evidence to back up the interference claim.
The Pearce campaign is spending roughly $230,000 to air the ad on statewide network and cable channels, said his campaign adviser, Kevin Sheridan.
Meanwhile, in Lujan Grisham’s ad, launched Friday in response to Pearce’s, the Democrat claims her opponent has repeatedly misrepresented her track record in attack ads.
She also accuses Pearce of voting in line with President Donald Trump’s positions roughly 90 percent of the time as a member of Congress, an assertion based on research from the online news site FiveThirtyEight.
“Just because Donald Trump gets away with lying, don’t let Steve Pearce do it, too,” the ad’s narrator says.
The barb marks the first time the Lujan Grisham campaign has attempted to link Pearce to Trump in a campaign ad.
Although Pearce has kept his distance from Trump on the campaign trail, he attended a Trump campaign stop in Albuquerque in 2016 and last year described a Russia-related controversy involving the White House as a “total assault” on the Republican president by Democrats and the media.
Both Lujan Grisham and Pearce are members of Congress who are forgoing re-election bids to run for governor. It’s believed to be the first time two sitting members of Congress have run against each other for governor in state history.
The general election will be held on Nov. 6.