What They’re Saying: New Mexico + National Press Catch Mark Ronchetti in Abortion Lie

What They’re Saying: New Mexico + National Press Catch Mark Ronchetti in Abortion Lie

“Comments Paint a Picture of a Candidate Saying One Thing Publicly and Another Thing Privately”

“A Ruse to Get Elected”

Local and national press are running with the bombshell video of Pastor Steve Smothermon revealing that Mark Ronchetti is publicly lying to voters, while privately promising to end abortion in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, KOB, KOAT, and more are covering Ronchetti’s lies and letting New Mexicans know the truth about where the candidates stand on a woman’s right to make her own decision about her healthcare. 

Read more about Ronchetti’s lies:

KOB4: 4 Investigates Fact Check: The Truth on Abortion Stances

In fact-checking Ronchetti’s ad about his stance on abortion, 4 Investigates looked at the July 10 sermon of Legacy Church pastor Steve Smothermon. The influential conservative leads a large congregation at an ecumenical church that has six campuses in Albuquerque and beyond. An outspoken critic of Gov. Lujan Grisham — whom he called “demonic” in the same sermon — Smothermon spoke about his frustration with Ronchetti’s professed plan for abortion.

“And I know a lot of us got mad and I did, too. I had a long talk with him for hours,” Smothermon said. “And I said, ‘Dude, right out of the gate, you blew it.’ And he said, ‘Well here’s what I was trying to do…’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I know what you were trying to do, but you didn’t do it.’ And here’s what he said. He said, ‘Listen, I just want to start with getting rid of partial-birth abortion in the whole state.’”

Smothermon said the congregation should be happy with that part.

He continued, “And he said, ‘But I can’t just go in and do it 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said, ‘I just want to start.’ But his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico. Just so you know. You say how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.



Albuquerque Journal: Pastor: Ronchetti Goal ‘To End Abortion’ in NM

The day Roe v. Wade was overturned, Republican Mark Ronchetti said he would pursue a 15-week abortion ban — with some exceptions — if elected governor of New Mexico.

But Ronchetti’s longer-term goal, according to the pastor of an influential mega church, would be to end abortion in the state, not just after 15 weeks of pregnancy — remarks that have roiled the governor’s race and been seized on by supporters of Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham as abortion emerges as a defining issue of the campaign.

In a sermon this month, Steve Smothermon, senior pastor of Legacy Church in Albuquerque, told his massive congregation that Ronchetti believes pushing for a total ban would keep him from getting elected, so he’s starting with a less-expansive proposal.

“His goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico, just so you know,” Smothermon said. “You say, how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.”



Roll Call: Purity vs. Pragmatism in Key Race for Governor

“Publicly, Ronchetti has said he would be in favor of legal access to abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. But a local pastor said Ronchetti’s real goal was to ban abortion entirely. 

“His goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico, just so you know,” said Steve Smothermon, senior pastor of Legacy Church in Albuquerque, in a sermon available on YouTube. “You say, how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.” Of course Democrats pounced, while the Ronchetti campaign insists the candidate’s position has never changed. 

The situation is a great example of the complexity of abortion as an electoral issue after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

In the same sermon, the pastor, who is no fan of the governor, expressed frustration and disappointment with Ronchetti for being open to any situation or timeline in which an abortion could be legal. And in a Democratic-leaning state such as New Mexico, Ronchetti can’t afford to have any conservative voters remain on the sidelines. At the same time, motivating Republican voters won’t be enough to win in New Mexico. He needs independent, and potentially moderate Democratic, voters to knock off the governor. And those voters might be turned off by the most conservative pro-life position. 

The situation is only partially about the policy. It’s potentially about character. Part of Ronchetti’s appeal is that he’s an outsider and not a politician. But Smothermon’s comments paint a picture of a candidate saying one thing publicly and another thing privately, which is one of the main attributes of a caricature of a politician.

While it sounded like Smothermon was trying to comfort conservative congregants and help Ronchetti’s cause, he made it more difficult for pro-life Republicans to achieve their desired policy goal by making it harder for Ronchetti to win.”



The American Independent: New Mexico Pastor Says GOP Governor Nominee Mark Ronchetti Intends to Abolish Abortion

A conservative pastor in Albuquerque told his congregation that Mark Ronchetti, the Republican nominee for governor of New Mexico, had assured him that while he may have said publicly that he thinks abortion should be legal up to 15 weeks’ gestation, in fact he was saying that just to get elected. Ronchetti’s actual goal, Steve Smothermon said, is “to end abortion in New Mexico.”


Ronchetti has also been inconsistent in his statements on contraceptives. His current campaign website states that “he will always protect access to contraception and healthcare”; however, on a website paid for by his campaign and devoted to attacking one of his primary candidates, New Mexico state Rep. Rebecca Dow, one of the charges leveled against her is that “Dow was one of only three Republicans who voted for the Obamacare mandate to require health coverage for the morning-after abortion pill,” repeating the lie that emergency contraceptive medication causes abortion.

Delaney Corcoran, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, told the American Independent Foundation, “Mark Ronchetti is desperately trying to trick New Mexicans into voting for him so he can get elected governor and pass extreme policies that punish New Mexican women and doctors and criminalize patients seeking critical reproductive health care.”

Corcoran added, “From lying to voters about his plan to completely ban abortion in New Mexico, to trying to backtrack his previous statements about opposing abortion at ‘all stages,’ to attempting to hide his opposition to insurance coverage for emergency contraceptives — Mark Ronchetti has made it clear he can’t be trusted on a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.” 



NM Political Report: Pastor Says Ronchetti Would Seek to Ban Abortion

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti reportedly told Legacy Church Senior Pastor Steve Smothermon that he wants to ban abortion if elected.

Ronchetti has publicly stated that, if elected, he will seek to ban what he calls “partial-birth abortions” by making it illegal after 15 weeks. Ronchetti said in a recent Twitter message that “I believe permitting abortion up to 15 weeks and in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk.”

“Partial-birth abortion” is not a medical term, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

During a Republican primary debate hosted by KOAT-TV in May, Ronchetti did not explicitly answer the question of whether he would ban or restrict abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. He said he was “firmly pro-life” and “we will protect life.”

He also said he wants to “work with anyone we can to say let’s get things into line with where the morality of the state of New Mexico is.” But he did not explain what he meant. Polls indicate that the majority of New Mexicans approve of a woman’s right to abortion.

But Smothermon said during a Sunday sermon at Legacy Church in Albuquerque that Ronchetti told him privately that “his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico.”

“How do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours,” Smothermon told the congregation.



Source NM and KUNM: Ronchetti has to walk a fine line on abortion as election nears, expert says

Ronchetti has pushed back against recent attempts by Democrats to paint him as fully anti-abortion. The state Democratic party has recycled statements from his recent United States Senate run and primary race that they say show he is against abortion in all circumstances. 

For example, his old website from the primary race criticizes opponent Rebecca Dow for saying “we have to uphold Roe v. Wade” in a debate as an example of a “liberal” position she’s taken on issues.

And in the “abortion” section of his website for his Senate race, Ronchetti said life should be “protected at all stages” and then goes on to state that he opposes late-term abortions and that “unborn babies have souls, can feel emotions, and are every bit a human being.”

But Ronchetti spokesperson Enrique Knell said Ronchetti was simply calling out Dow’s hypocrisy in the first example and, in the second, said he was not referring to stages of pregnancy when he said “all stages.” 

“He says life should be protected at all stages, referring generally to ‘life,’” Knell told Source New Mexico. “‘Stages’ in this context does not mean ‘trimesters.’”


Last week, Ronchetti was again forced to defend his abortion stance as moderate and in line with the values of New Mexicans after a fact-check by KOB. Pastor Steve Smothermon, in a recent sermon cited by the news outlet, told the congregation that Ronchetti had assured him that, if elected, he would push for a full ban on abortions in New Mexico.

“He said, ‘Listen: I just want to start with getting rid of partial-birth abortions in the whole state, …,” Smothermon said of his conversation with Ronchetti. “And he said, ‘But I can’t just go in and do it all 100% because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said ‘I just want to start.’ But his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico. You say how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.” 



Santa Fe New Mexican: Conservative pastor knocks Ronchetti on abortion stance

The pastor of an Albuquerque megachurch described Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti’s new, more moderate stance on abortion — approving of the procedure for up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk — as a ruse to get elected.

During his Sunday sermon, the Rev. Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church said he and a lot of others became upset when Ronchetti called his abortion stance a “very reasonable position” that most New Mexicans would support.

Smothermon said he had a long talk with Ronchetti and told him he “blew it” right out of the gate.

“He said, ‘Listen, I just want to start with getting rid of partial birth abortion in the whole state,’ which we should be happy with,” the conservative pastor told his congregation.

“And he said, ‘But I can’t just go in and do it all 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said, ‘I just want to start,’ but his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico,” the pastor said, generating applause from his congregants.

Smothermon, who is hosting a large, three-day conference, could not be reached for comment Friday.

In a statement, he tried to backtrack his remarks, which the campaign of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat seeking reelection, quickly seized upon to call Ronchetti a liar who is trying to trick voters to get elected.



KOAT: Abortion is a Hot Topic in Governor’s Race

“What Ronchetti says about late-term abortion came into question when well-known Albuquerque Pastor Steve Smothermon said this in a sermon: “I had a long talk with them for hours,” the Legacy Church pastor said during a sermon two weeks ago. “He said, ‘Listen, I just want to start with getting rid of partial-birth abortion in the whole state, which we should be happy with.’ And he said, ‘But I can’t just go in and do it all 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said, ‘I just want to start,’ but his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico.”


Prior to the Republican primary, KKOB’s Bob Clark asked all of the candidates where they stood on abortion during KOAT’s gubernatorial debate.

“I’m firmly pro-life, and we will protect life. There’s no question but to look at where we are in this state is staggering. We are the late-term abortion capital of North America,” Ronchetti said. “And it has to stop here….We have to protect life. There’s no question about that here. So, what we want to do is we want to work with anyone we can to say, ‘let’s get things into line with where the morality of the state of New Mexico is.’”



Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial: Fine Line on Abortion is Hard to Walk

As the saying goes, abortion is on the ballot in November.

That is as true in New Mexico as it is at the national level, with pro-choice Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham running against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti, who has said he would restrict abortion rights if elected.

The question still to be answered is just how much Ronchetti wants to restrict abortion in New Mexico.

The former TV weatherman turned politician claims his position has been consistent — he supports a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

However, a megachurch pastor in Albuquerque has cast doubt on Ronchetti’s position, telling his congregation that privately, the candidate sings a different tune.

Legacy Church senior pastor Steve Smothermon, speaking in a July sermon, told his flock Ronchetti had told him he really wants to ban abortions — but knows he won’t be elected if that’s his on-the-record position.

Fifteen weeks, in other words, is just an opening bid.

“His goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico, just so you know,” Smothermon said during the sermon. “You say, how do I know that? Because I talked to him for hours.”



Daily Lobo: Abortion to Play Key Role in November Elections

“As election day nears, abortion rights are primed to remain a hot campaign topic. Even in states like New Mexico where there are no restrictions on the medical procedure, candidates can count on voters taking their stance on the issue into consideration, according to University of New Mexico political science professor Gabriel Sanchez.

“Local elected officials using this as a mechanism to win votes: that’s the reality. Because typically, to be honest with you, abortion has not been a top voting issue for a large segment of voters in New Mexico as long as I’ve been tracking … That might change in November because the Supreme Court decision just made it much more of a big topic,” Sanchez said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) holds a narrow 3% lead over Republican opponent Mark Ronchetti as of June 20, according to the New Mexico Political Report. Ronchetti is opposed to abortion and has made campaign promises to limit access in the state. Erica Davis-Crump’s, the co-founder of the NM Black Central Organizing Committee, biggest fear in the upcoming election is Ronchetti, who is a familiar face to many and has “been in their homes for years.”

“The biggest concern that I do have is people voting off of name recognition and not knowing what the other people you know, stand for … People be like, ‘Oh it’s the weather man,’ and not knowing he’s a monster,” Davis-Crump said.


“(Barriers to access) will be exacerbated as people from other states are forced to seek care even farther from their homes. Despite the favorable political landscape, broad network of providers and rich supportive culture in New Mexico, actual access to abortion care outside of Bernalillo county has been difficult to access for years,” Angelique Karnes, communications associate for Bold Futures, wrote to the Daily Lobo.

Davis-Crump mentioned candidates like Gabe Vasquez (D) who are looking to flip the 2nd  Congressional District in order to protect access. Davis-Crump is consolidating most of her concerns, though, to the governor’s race. 

“If there’s any changes whatsoever (to the governor), where we leave  more to the GOP of New Mexico, we’re fucked. But if we can maintain — like putting Gabe Vasquez in CD two — if we can flip the seats that need to be flipped … if we can keep this up, I think we’ll be alright. But if this goes in any other direction, we’re gonna be messed up,” Davis-Crump said.

The effects of the GOP winning would be felt by people beyond New Mexico, as many individuals are coming to the state to seek care.

“(For many Southern states), the closest place to access is us. So, we can absolutely not afford to lose this election. And so the progressives, the left-leaning, they have to show up (to vote),” Davis-Crump said.



Joe Monahan Blog Spot: Ronchetti’s New Mantra: Change The Subject; Abortion Mishap Takes A Toll On GOP Nominee

Talk about the weather, the price of tea in China or how the United are doing. Just don’t talk to GOP Guv hopeful Mark Ronchetti about abortion. He’s not interested, not after the major mishap that struck his campaign featuring a sermon by Pastor Steve Smotherman that indicted Ronchetti’s character and sent the candidate and his team reeling. 

As every political junkie from Durango to Deming knows by now, Smothermon informed his congregation that not only had Ronchetti told him at a private meeting that he is for a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy but also said he would eventually like to do away with all abortion, but he can’t say that or he won’t be elected. (Ronchetti’s campaign denied he told Smothermon he wanted to end abortion.)

That is the most weighty event of the six week old general election campaign but if Ronchetti is to have any chance of doing damage control and scoring an upset over MLG, it is an event that must be put in the rearview mirror–and now. 

The 48 year old former TV weatherman is trying. 

On his Twitter account, as the news headlines screamed of the abortion debacle, he told his 16,000 followers that MLG’s education department “has no plan to help our kids succeed.” 

In a fund-raising pitch he dissed his opponent, writing, “She’s just another elitist politician trying to dismiss you and I as not enough. We’re not enough to win her respect, and we’re certainly not enough to garner her attention.” Ronchetti make a rookie mistake by meeting for what Smothermon says was “hours.” A GOP consultant looked forward this way: 

The mistake was a grand one and now he will need help from external events. The best shot is that the recent decline in gas prices reverses, giving the Republicans what they need on the economy and inflation.  

That’s fine but it demonstrates how Ronchetti has lost control of events. While the GOP nominee urgently moves to put abortion in the shadows, he is hearing footsteps. Those would be from Democrats trekking to the TV studio to cut an ad starring the Reverend Smothermon. 

So if you see Mark around give him a break and chat him up about those record temps in the state. And try to stay away from words that begin with “A.”



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