State Rep. Rebecca Dow (Courtesy Photo)

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State Rep. Rebecca Dow announced Wednesday that she will seek the Republican nomination for governor of New Mexico in next year’s election, becoming the fifth GOP candidate looking to unseat Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Dow, who is serving her third term in the Legislature and works as a consultant to early childhood providers, said she’s tired of New Mexico being last when it comes to educational outcomes, child well-being and employment opportunities.

The state currently has the second highest unemployment rate in the U.S. Critics have placed some of the blame on Lujan Grisham for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of her public health restrictions on small businesses. Many were forced to close their doors for good over the past year, and the state recently started offering cash incentives in an effort to get people back to work.

Lujan Grisham announced her reelection bid at a June rally in Albuquerque that was derailed by protesters who were mostly upset over her handling of the pandemic, which included some of the nation’s toughest restrictions.

Dow said during an interview on KKOB radio that her campaign will be a grassroots effort. She also pointed to her ability to win over Democrats in her rural district.

“I am looking for the everyday New Mexican to join me,” she said. “I don’t care what political party you’re affiliated with — it’s the people who want to see New Mexico thrive. It’s time,” she said, adding that New Mexico has the potential to do as well as the neighboring states of Arizona and Texas.

Dow described Lujan Grisham’s policies as radical and said New Mexicans should be allowed to make their own choices.

“We have rights, we are allowed to take risks and we take personal responsibility,” she said. “The everyday New Mexican, they’re capable of making informed rational decisions for themselves and for their families. … This governor assumes that we can’t make choices for ourselves.”

The Democratic Governors Association was quick to denounce Dow as too extreme, giving a preview of the likely campaign message against her. “Rebecca Dow’s extremist, far-right record shows she’s out of touch with New Mexicans. As a state legislator, Dow has repeatedly voted against the right to choose, public school funding, and commonsense gun reform. Now she wants to be governor, where she would threaten to strike down the widely popular policies that New Mexican families deserve to appease her fringe supporters. From promoting homophobic policies to misleading about COVID on social media, Dow’s dangerous rhetoric proves one thing — New Mexico deserves better,” said Noam Lee, executive director of DGA.

As part of her campaign, Lujan Grisham is running on her pandemic-related policies, saying they helped to save lives. She also has touted the approval of tax breaks for working families, increases in spending on public education, and legalization of recreational marijuana during her first term.

Other Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for governor include former congressional candidate Karen Bedonie, investment adviser, and West Point graduate Greg Zanetti, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, and retired teacher Tim Walsh.

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