Will Paul Ryan make a difference in NM races this fall? Susana: “At least he had the courage to come up with a budget”
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Three days after Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, it’s still not clear how the selection could play out here in New Mexico.
Die-hard Republicans are praising Ryan while Democrats are blasting the well-known budget hawk as extreme. That’s no surprise.
But a number of Republican candidates this November in New Mexico swing districts are trying to walk a fine line.
They don’t want to alienate their conservative bases that are energized by Ryan but at the same time, they don’t want to turn off undecided voters who might buy into Democrats’ portrayals of Ryan as somebody whose call for budget cuts in Washington might affect Sandia Labs or the Los Alamos National Laboratory. And of course, any politician who dares speak about reforming entitlement programs is playing a dangerous game.
On Monday (Aug. 13), state Republican cabinet member Jon Barela, state Rep. Larry Larrañaga of Albuquerque and GOP state rep candidate Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque called a news conference backing Romney’s choice.
“Don’t be fooled about the lies about how [Ryan] wants to dismantle Medicare,” Barela said.
But Scott Forrester, the executive director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, and US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich each released statements Monday with Forrester saying, “The Ryan Budget would gut Medicare by turning it into a voucher program” and Heinrich’s statement claiming that “The Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it and force nearly 300,000 New Mexico seniors into a voucher program.”
Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” plan would not affect anybody currently enrolled in the Medicare system but in 10 years (2022), the proposal would change Medicare to a program that would would employ vouchers as well as increase the age to become eligible for Medicare (increasing by two months per year until it reached age 67 in 2033).
“If we want to sustain the entitlements we have now, if we want our children and our grandchildren to enjoy Medicare and Social Security,” Youngblood told Capitol Report New Mexico, “we need to make sure they’re solvent. We need to make sure we have a budget and that … Washington lives on a budget.”
“[Romney's selection] changes the whole focus of this campaign from all the mudslinging and things like that to things like ideas and results,” Larrañaga said.
Heinrich’s statement also said Ryan’s budget proposals could lead to cuts at Sandia and Los Alamos.
Gov. Susana Martinez told Capitol Report New Mexico, “At least his vice presidential selection had the courage to come up with a budget, something that not even the Obama administration has or the ability to get a budget [passed] at all … I disagree with parts of [Ryan's budget proposals]. I certainly want our labs to be strong here in New Mexico. I will communicate that should Romney and Ryan win. I want New Mexico’s labs to remain just as they are.”
Those comments echo those of Heinrich’s opponent, Republican Heather Wilson, who issued a statement back on Saturday saying that Ryan is “decent, honest and smart” while adding, “I admire his willingness to put forth bold ideas on the biggest issues facing our nation, even if I don’t always agree with him.”
Republican Janice Arnold-Jones issued a statement on her website saying she supported the decision to choose Ryan, who she said “brings a fresh set of ideas to the national debate.”
But a post on the KOB-TV website quotes Arnold Jones as saying the Ryan choice is “A little frightening on the lab side, but I intend to go and advocate for the state of New Mexico.” Heinrich’s campaign cited that quote in their news release Monday.
However, the video accompanying the piece from KOB-TV did not include use the quote. Arnold-Jones told Capitol Report New Mexico, “I do not recall saying that.”
A voicemail was left with KOB’s news director. As soon as we hear back, we’ll post a clarification. Click here to see the video and the accompanying text from KOB-TV.
Arnold-Jones is running against Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who issued a statement saying Romney’s selection “shows his disregard for New Mexico’s middle class families and seniors.”
Here’s video of our conversation with Gov. Martinez about Romney picking Ryan:
As reported last week, Martinez will be one of the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention later this month. The governor said she doesn’t know which day she will speak to the convention and when we asked her what she might say in her speech, she said she’s still working on it.
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Capitol Report New Mexico, Democratic Party of New Mexico, Heather Wilson, Janice Arnold-Jones, Jon Barela, KOB-TV, Larry Larranaga, Los Alamos National Lab, Martin Heinrich, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mitt Romney, Monica Youngblood, Paul Ryan, Sandia Labs, Scott Forrester, Susana Martinez