RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A Republican U.S. Senate hopeful in New Mexico is blasting one of her opponents in a new ad over his previous critical comments about President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Elisa Martinez released a new commercial that attacks former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti saying at a climate change event last year that he was a Republican “until the orange one,” referring to the president.
In the ad, a clip of Martinez speaking on Fox News shows her talking about defending Trump’s policies and warning viewers about socialism. “While I was defending President Trump,” Martinez says, “Mark Ronchetti was turning his back on the president.”
The ad then shows a clip of Ronchetti’s remarks.
“Hey, Mark, color me orange,” Martinez then says. “I’ll always support President Trump and our oil and gas industry.”
The Martinez ad comes after Rochetti released his own set of commercials with uplifting messages and promises that America’s best days “are ahead of us.” In his commercials, Ronchetti said he supports Trump’s policies around China and the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Ronchetti campaign manager Jeff Glassburner dismissed the Martinez ad and said it came from a candidate trying to distract voters from her own problems.
“It’s a desperate attack that’s to be expected from a candidate who has nothing to run on, since she got caught not paying taxes for 10 years and worked as a political operative for an open borders group,” Glassburner said.
Glassburner was referring to Martinez’s support for the Koch network-funded Libre Institute, which advocates for immigration reform.
Ryan Lynch, a Martinez campaign spokesman, said it was Ronchetti who was trying to distract Republican voters away from his anti-Trump comments.
“Elisa paid all the state and federal taxes she owed, there was never any doubt about that or action by the IRS to collect unpaid taxes,” Lynch said. “Mark is not really a Republican, so Elisa’s conservative record may confuse him, but the Libre Initiative supports secure borders.”
Martinez is the founder of an anti-abortion group in New Mexico.
Gavin Clarkson, a former U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs official under Trump, also is seeking the GOP nomination for New Mexico’s open U.S. Senate seat. Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is retiring.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of Santa Fe is unopposed in seeking the Democratic nomination for the senate seat.