AP NEWS

Republican TV meteorologist joins New Mexico Senate race

January 7, 2020 GMT
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In this Oct. 5, 2006 photo, KRQE-TV Chief Meteorologist Mark Ronchetti stands in front of a "green screen" as he gives the weathercast at the KRQE studios in Albuquerque, N.M. Ronchetti announced Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, that he is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. Ronchetti is jumping in the contest for the GOP nomination after stepping down for his job as chief meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque. (Jaelyn deMaria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)
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In this Oct. 5, 2006 photo, KRQE-TV Chief Meteorologist Mark Ronchetti stands in front of a "green screen" as he gives the weathercast at the KRQE studios in Albuquerque, N.M. Ronchetti announced Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, that he is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. Ronchetti is jumping in the contest for the GOP nomination after stepping down for his job as chief meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque. (Jaelyn deMaria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M, (AP) — Mark Ronchetti, an Albuquerque meteorologist who is one of New Mexico’s most popular television figures, announced Tuesday that is joining the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, adding more drama to a contest some Democrats had believed was a safe seat.

Ronchetti, 46, said he entered the fight for the GOP nomination after stepping down from his job Monday as chief meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque.

In a campaign video, Ronchetti said he decided to run because he was “fed up” with politicians in Washington not solving problems. The political novice in his video called himself a “proud conservative New Mexican” who is “pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.”

Ronchetti said he doesn’t support some of President Donald Trump’s “tweets and soundbites” — without providing details —but endorses his economic and energy policies.

“New Mexicans are fed up with the petty partisan politics that has gotten in the way of progress for New Mexicans,” Ronchetti said in a separate statement. “Hatred for your political opponents can never be stronger than your love of New Mexico —when it is, nobody wins.”

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Ronchetti grew up in Shelburne, Vermont before moving to Albuquerque to become a meteorologist for KOAT-TV. He left for a similar job in Oregon but returned to New Mexico in 2006 to join KRQE-TV.

The Washington State University graduate joins a crowded field for the GOP nomination that includes anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, shooting range owner Louie Sanchez, contractor Mick Rich, and college professor Gavin Clarkson.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running for the seat in the Democratic primary. Andrew Perkins, an accountant who once served as the city of Espanola ’s finance director, also is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Ronchetti criticized Luján for supporting the impeachment of Trump and labeled Luján as one of the most partisan politicians in Washington.

Ronchetti enters the Republican primary with powerful name recognition but it’s uncertain how strong his campaign will be, said Brian Sanderoff, president of the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling, Inc.

“Yes, he’s likable. But they challenge for him now is to make that key transformation from a weatherman to a serious political candidate who is aware of national and international issues,” Sanderoff said.

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