Two NM GOP legislative candidates denounce Trump, don’t support him

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Editor’s note: This post has been rewritten to include new statements and other developments. This is a breaking news article that may be updated again.

Two Republican legislative candidates in New Mexico are denouncing comments GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump made about women in a 2005 video that was released Friday — and they’re saying they don’t support Trump in the presidential race.

Donald Trump

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (photo cc info)

“This is terribly offensive and I do not approve,” said state Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, who is in a tough re-election battle against Democrat Nathan Small. Asked who he supports in the presidential race, Nuñez said, “at this point, no one.”

Aubrey Blair Dunn, a Republican candidate trying to unseat state Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, was supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson, New Mexico’s former governor, in the presidential race even before the video was released Friday. Dunn called Trump’s comments about women in the video “morally repugnant.”

“This is no shock,” said Dunn, the son of state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. “Did anybody truly believe after all he has said previously that this wasn’t his character? And does anybody truly believe after all we have witnessed from Bill and Hillary that they are any different? No!”

The legislative candidates joined Gov. Susana Martinez, another Republican, in rejecting Trump’s candidacy. Martinez said Saturday that Trump has displayed “a pattern of disturbing conduct and offensive rhetoric” and she “will not support” him.

Meanwhile, other Republicans, including Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, condemned Trump’s remarks but didn’t say if they will vote for Trump.

“I am beyond disappointed by Donald Trump’s remarks,” Sanchez said. “As I think of moms, wives, daughters, sisters and all women, I am bothered and angered after hearing these comments. Women should be respected at all times and should never be objectified in such a vulgar manner.”

State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, who is in a hot battle with Democratic challenger Ane Romero, called Trump’s comments “offensive and disgraceful.” But, like Sanchez, she didn’t say if she will vote for Trump.

“Women should always be treated with dignity and respect,” Maestas Barnes said, adding that, “as a legislator, I have been a strong advocate for women by supporting fair pay initiatives and led the charge in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee to provide $1.2 million to address the rape kit backlog and $800,000 for counseling services for victims of sexual assault.”

“Even during this most recent special session, I ensured funding for these critical programs would not be affected by budget cuts,” Maestas Barnes said. “I always have and will continue to champion causes that protect and support women.”

Nationally, many Republicans have been quick to condemn Trump’s lewd comments. Some have withdrawn their endorsements of Trump. Others are calling for him to quit the race — which Trump says he will not do.

Because of the speed at which many Republicans nationally were denouncing — and in some instances turning their backs on — their party’s presidential nominee, NMPolitics.net decided to gauge the impact in New Mexico. While Martinez, Sanchez, Nuñez and Dunn have spoken out, some other high-profile Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, have not sent us comments.

Republican secretary of state candidate Nora Espinoza, meanwhile, apparently isn’t going to comment on the Trump recording. “Nora Espinoza, since Feb. 2, has been only focused on her race for secretary of state and has not focused on any other race,” said her campaign manager, Rod Adair, when asked if she had comment on Trump.

NMPolitics.net has also sought comment from Land Commissioner Dunn, several other GOP state lawmakers and legislative candidates, and the state Republican Party. We’ll let you know if they respond.

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The new controversy for Trump comes as Johnson is holding a campaign rally in Albuquerque on Saturday. Two polls have recently placed Johnson’s support in New Mexico at 24 percent and 14 percent.

Johnson hammered Trump on Friday in a post on Facebook.

“It is just sad and embarrassing that a man who is now the nominee of a major party for president could display such a disgusting attitude toward women,” Johnson wrote. “America deserves better. Women deserve better, and our daughters deserve better.”

He also mentioned the down-ballot impact Trump’s candidacy could have on Republicans.

“Tonight, millions of Republicans are facing a moment of truth,” Johnson wrote Friday. “As a former Republican governor, I don’t envy them.”

Martinez, who chairs the national Republican Governor’s Association, is among those who have been under immense pressure. She has refused to endorse Trump, who criticized her at a campaign rally he held in Albuquerque in May. At that rally, Trump said Martinez “has got to do a better job” to improve New Mexico.

The next day, Martinez fired back.

“Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her,” Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said. “She cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. … She’s disappointed that she didn’t hear anything about that last night.”

Martinez did show up to help cast New Mexico’s votes for Trump in July at the Republican National Convention.

Some were saying on social media this weekend that Martinez had been smart to not endorse Trump.

Pearce, meanwhile, has said he will vote for Trump. Southern New Mexico’s representative in the U.S. House appeared at a rally with Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, in Albuquerque in August. So did Espinoza, though she didn’t mention Trump or the presidential race during her speech.

Not surprisingly, Democrats in New Mexico were quick to comment Friday on the release of the 2005 video. The state Democratic Party pointed out in a news release that Trump, in the video, “implies that he deserves special treatment for his ‘star’ status and describes taking advantage of women without consent. ”

“Trump’s comments are not only vulgar, they are intolerable. Trump disrespects women, and that is not a quality we want in our president,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland. “There are Republican candidates right here in New Mexico supporting Trump — Nora Espinoza and Steve Pearce to name a couple. If New Mexico Republicans still support Trump after this display of behavior, they don’t deserve to be in office.”

As first reported Friday by the Washington Post, Trump can be heard on the 2005 video talking about trying unsuccessfully to have sex with a married woman, saying he “moved on her like a bitch.”  Trump can also be heard saying he is “automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

You can watch the video here:

Late Friday, Trump released this video statement about the situation:

The bad news continued on Saturday for Trump when CNN released audio recordings made over 17 years of interviews Trump gave to radio jock Howard Stern. Among the revelations: Trump told Stern it was OK to call his daughter a “piece of ass.”

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