Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

On Oct. 15, 2022, the Republican Party of Grant County held their annual fall banquet.

Current District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow served as emcee for the evening.

IMG 5847
Bryce and Sherry Wooton, Sandy Shelley, Gaye Rock and Doyle Shirey sang the National Anthem.

Pastor Tim Heyer gave the opening prayer.  J.D. Donovan led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Several people spoke in support of various candidates, not only Republicans, but Democrats.

Armando Aguilera, candidate for District 2 Commissioner, spoke briefly about wanting to serve his community as commissioner.

Delfina Jimenez, who worked for at time in the Grant County Maintenance Department as office manager, said she supports Lt. Manuel J. Maldonado, as write-in candidate for Sheriff. "He defends the truth."

Maldonado also spoke and said: "I have the same values as you do."

He said the entire Grant County Sheriff's Office was disheartened after Sheriff Frank Gomez lost the primary. "We in the Sheriff's Department do not represent a party. As a leader, you work for all those individuals as persons, not as a party member. For two days after the primary election, morale in the office was at its lowest. But God opens doors. I had support from you guys and other citizens. I want to continue what Frank has done. He made us a Second Amendment sanctuary county. In God we trust. We must keep moving forward."

IMG 5849Commissioner Billy BillingsCommissioner Billy Billings recognized all law enforcement personnel and firefighters. "We are the only country in the world that has shed so much blood for people and places in other countries." He described the featured speaker, candidate for lt. governor Anthony Thornton as "down to earth." He also read a message from Congressional District 2 incumbent Yvette Herrell, which stated that a nation built on freedom is a nation that is safe and secure.

"We need to talk to our neighbors and spread the message of freedom," Billings said. "We need to stop demonizing Democrats and have conversations with them, if things are going to change." He said the country faces major issues, including inflation because of federal runaway spending, bad energy policy, and an open border where human and drug trafficking are bringing in the often fatal drug fentanyl. "With your help we will turn this ordeal around."

Dow talked about the abortion issue. New Mexico compares to only China and North Korea in allowed abortion up to the point of birth. She said a drug is injected into the heart of the baby and the mother has to bear a stillbirth. Sometimes, the mothers are sent to hotels to have their stillborn babies, and "that's what Gov. Grisham believes is women's health." She noted that a miscarriage is not an abortion. "The night the Legislature codified abortion up to birth, I saw Rep. Luis Terrazas leave the chamber in distress. He's fighting for women and children, including the unborn."Terrazas said it is his honor to serve the community as a legislator. "I have always loved to serve people. Yes, it's hard to have a business and be a legislator, but I decided to run when I saw that my competitor didn't stand for life and didn't support miners."

IMG 5850Dist. 39 Rep. Luis Terrazas    On the topic of Fort Bayard, Terrazas said it can be a magnet for tourism. "I gave capital outlay to cut the dead trees and to fix up the theater." He said many kids leave the area because of a lack of jobs. "I want to keep our baseball kids here at Western (New Mexico University). I want to keep our nurses and teachers here. The opportunity scholarship will keep students in New Mexico for at least two years of the advanced education. I supported, with capital outlay, the hospital, the fairgrounds and Bataan Memorial Park."

He noted that Democrats in Santa Fe are not the same as the ones in Grant County. "I was a Democrat, but with the same values that I now have as a Republican. I said no to raise the gas tax. A question (in the forum with his Democrat challenger Rudy Martinez) asked whether we would raise taxes on food. I said no adamantly, but my competitor said yes. Make sure everyone you know goes out to vote. I will not lie to keep my office. I am not going to stay quiet to keep my office. We need to speak our minds. We need to teach our children and grandchildren to vote."

IMG 5852Rep. Dow, left, and RPGC chair Richard Miller present Republican of the Year Award to Rhonda Billings, center.As part of the annual event, the Republican of the Year is chosen. Republican Party of Grant County Richard Miller, along with Dow, presented the award.

"When I had a question, I knew who to call to get an answer," Miller said. "Rhonda Billings always knew the answer."

Rhonda Billings, in accepting the honor, said the recognition is not about one person. It's about the team. "Please get people to the polls."

Glenna Thornton, Ant Thornton's wife, said: "I'm just the girl with the guy. Ant wanted to be the first black astronaut. Neil Armstrong was his guy. Instead, Ant designed the rockets. He was thrilled when he received the distinguished alumnus award at Purdue, the same as Armstrong did. He feels a calling to run for lt. governor."

IMG 5856Lt. Gov. candidate Anthony Thornton was featured speakerAnt Thornton thanked Cyndi and J.D. Donovan and Rhonda and Billy Billings for their support. "Yes, I am a rocket scientist. I am a retired aerospace engineer from Sandia National Labs. Why should you vote for me? New Mexico is No. 1 or 2 in crime and 51st in education. That's the result of more than 90 years of Democrat power."

About his background, he said the earliest black man to become a chief master sergeant in the Air Force served as a role model and "demonstrated to us that we are not oppressed."

What are his key concerns about the election. "Border and energy security, as well as education security. I came down to study the border issues and took a tour of the Diamond A Ranch. The border is wide open. We have to resolve the 180-mile border in New Mexico, where drug trafficking and human trafficking have nothing stopping them. I was told that fentanyl seizures have increased 16-fold over the past months."

"On energy security, New Mexico is the third largest in oil production," Thornton said. "This administration wants to kill the golden goose. We need to shut down the green new deal."

He said former candidate Greg Zanetti, whom Thornton beat in the primary, had come up with an idea to bring small modular nuclear reactors to New Mexico. One can provide power for 60 homes.

"On water rights, we are the Saudi Arabia of the U.S.," Thornton said. "We have a lot of underground brackish water. With the small modular nuclear reactors, we can energize the distillation of the water. That is part of my vision for New Mexico. We have the best natural resources. We need education surety, which includes safety, security and reliability. Our PED (public education department) statistics show that 66 percent of our students cannot read at grade level and 75 percent cannot do math at grade level. They are hurting kids to make them controlled by the government. We have to have good education to build the economy."

He said a woman had compared him and his wife to birds. "My wife was a peacock, and she said I was a cross between an owl, a dove and an eagle. As an eagle, I know that we're in a battle in a spiritual war of evil versus good. If you disagree with big government, you are a threat. You are also a threat if you disagree with taxes or with 'woke," or with election integrity. We cannot reward incompetence. 'She' must go. It is time to demand more from leadership, especially for our children. Please take a pledge to recruit more soldiers in the war between good and evil. If you bring one more person to the polls to vote, we will win. This is my promise to you—secure the border, end catch and release, establish voter ID, bring in school choice and eliminate CRT (critical race theory)."

Christine Starr gave closing remarks.

IMG 5684Governor candidate Mark Ronchetti with Rep. Rebecca Dow Second event

The second event took place Oct. 22, 2022 at Gough Park, when candidate for governor, Mark Ronchetti spoke.

"I have not seen a time in the state's history when we were richer," Ronchetti said. "We have to focus on getting people to the end of the month every month."

Dow also served a emcee and noted that Zeno Kiehne had provided the brisket and fixings for lunch.

"President Ronald Reagan said: 'We are only one generation away from losing our freedom,'" Dow said. "We need to fight for our freedom."

Ronchetti commended Dow for running "an incredible race. She took Grant County (in the primary election). I am fortunate to have her helping me with my campaign. She is tireless."

"We need to take our state back," Ronchetti said. "We have seen Gov. Lujan Grisham raise the budget by more than 40 percent, but it is not making the residents better off. Our tax plan agrees that the money is yours. We need to make sure some of it ends up back in your hands. If you make more than $24,000, you are in the second highest tax bracket. We can keep the budget where it is and cut expenses in half. I want the cleanest and most efficient oil and gas. I want to give rebates to New Mexico citizens. The money is either going to the government or to you. I want to invest in you and still invest in your communities. Did 'she' ask you before she released 780 prisoners from jail early? No, she didn't.

"We have to stop failing our kids," he continued. "You need control of what your children are taught, not Santa Fe. We have a plan to catch kids up from their learning loss during remote learning during the pandemic. We want to get more money into the classrooms, and we will offer school choice. On the crime issue, we have to stop emptying the jails. The Parole Board, when in doubt, lets the inmate out of jail. We will put up a citizen bill of rights to get rid of catch and release, and to expand law enforcement to address the rise in fentanyl availability. We will back our police officers by returning qualified immunity. We will secure the border by temporarily putting in the National Guard, and we will create a new division at the Department of Public Safety to go after fentanyl and human trafficking. We will work with Arizona and Texas. We've got to get rid of politics. Right now, we have the 'elites' versus New Mexicans. It's time for New Mexicans to win. We need your every vote. The legislators and governor think you work for them, but no, they should work for you. I will work for you. We have to be servants. Let's stand up for this state."

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