NM GOP candidate claims ‘bombshell texts’ prove Dem Governor ‘brazenly cheated’ in debate, demands answers

New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti, a Republican, has accused incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of having cheated in a debate during her first run for office four years ago.

In a press release published Thursday, he claimed that an attorney named Thomas Grover has released “screenshots of text messages” between Grisham’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign and a TV station, KOB, that’d hosted a debate between her and her 2018 opponent.

“Wednesday night, attorney Thomas Grover released screenshots of text messages between a representative of KOB-TV and the Michelle Lujan Grisham gubernatorial
campaign. The messages contained the questions that were to be asked of Michelle Lujan Grisham during the KOB-4 debate in 2018 — essentially excerpts from KOB’s teleprompter script for the debate,” the press release reads.

“The texts from KOB to the Lujan Grisham campaign were sent on October 4, 2018 and the debate took place weeks later on October 18, 2018. The texts also reveal that KOB was actively rooting for Lujan Grisham with a KOB employee texting, ‘I’ve never wanted someone to be our governor more than I want to see Michelle,'” the press release continues.

“These bombshell text messages show that Michelle Lujan Grisham will brazenly cheat and deceive New Mexicans in order to attain and hold onto her power. This governor is corrupt to the core and must be held accountable,” Ronchetti said in a statement.

“This governor has repeatedly dishonored her office and disrespected the people of New Mexico. She committed sexual assault and then paid off her victim with hush money. She played by her own set of rules during COVID. Now we see where it all started — brazenly cheating during a statewide television debate,” his communications director, Ryan Sabel, added.

Based on the text message screenshots published by Grover, Ronchetti’s campaign is now calling for station KOB to, one, investigate the “collusion”  between itself and the Grisham campaign, and two, “disclose whether similar cheating occurred before this year’s debate.”

This year’s KOB debate occurred on Sept. 30th:

But who is Thomas Grover and are his accusations against Grisham legitimate?

For starters, Grover is, according to his firm’s website, “a former police sergeant with extensive experience, skills, training and knowledge in police practices and procedures, civil rights, employment matters, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, and landlord/tenant issues.”

That’s probably a good sign.

“Areas of expertise and knowledge include: police practices and procedures, field patrol operations, critical incident management and de-escalation, crisis negotiations, incident investigations, crime/incident scene management, department standard operating procedures, bicycle patrol and operations, police officer instruction, specialized unit operations, and community relations,” his website biography continues.

“Thomas pursued advanced degrees, including a Masters in Public Administration, whereby he studied and analyzed various models of best public practices and in December, 2013 earned his Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law. In April, 2014 he was admitted to the New Mexico Bar and licensed to practice law in the state of New Mexico,” it adds.

All this sounds good. But on the other hand, Grover boasts a small, unverified Twitter account with only a couple hundred followers.

It’s via the Twitter account that he published the text message screenshots late Wednesday:

As of Thursday afternoon, no other news outlet in America had picked up this story except for Fox News (see below), which was no surprise since the majority of American media outlets were likely rooting for Grisham given their known bias.

However, this story could make or break the election. According to the latest poll from Emerson College/The Hill, Grisham is ahead of Ronchetti only by a few percentage points.

“The poll found Lujan Grisham leading Ronchetti 49 percent to 46 percent among very likely voters. Three percent said they were undecided,” The Hill reported Monday.

“The poll shifts Lujan Grisham’s support to 50 percent and Ronchetti’s to 48 percent when the survey incorporates those who said they were undecided but were asked whom they were leaning toward at that time,” the outlet added.

Interestingly, KOB — the outlet that Ronchetti has accused of helping Grisham cheat — conducted its own poll, but its poll showed a drastically different result:

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Vivek Saxena

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