Republican Senate candidate: Government mandates are forcing people to lose their jobs

Elisa Martinez seeking GOP nomination

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Prior to emerging as a front runner in the race for the Republican nomination for a New Mexico U.S. Senate seat over the weekend, Elisa Martinez visited San Juan County to talk with voters about their concerns.

Martinez and Mark Ronchetti were the only two of the five Republican candidates to qualify during the Republican pre-primary convention to have their names on the ballot during the primary election. Ronchetti is a former television meteorologist.

Martinez won the pre-primary convention with 35 percent of the votes, and her name will appear above Ronchetti’s on the ballot.

While visiting Farmington on March 5, Martinez said the biggest concern expressed to her by people in San Juan County was the future of jobs and the economy in an evolving energy climate.

She said people are concerned about how the Energy Transition Act that became law last year in New Mexico and the proposed Green New Deal at the federal level will impact their jobs in fossil fuels-related industries.

Senate candidate Elisa Martinez speaks in January during a San Juan County Patriots meeting in Aztec.

When the Navajo Generating Station closed last year, it meant some Navajo and Hopi people couldn’t go to the mine to get coal to heat their homes. Martinez highlighted that as an example of how the closures of the power plants can hurt a community.

“They’re real problems that are hurting real people,” she said.

The Energy Transition Act was passed in an effort to mitigate the impacts of closing the San Juan Generating Station while also laying out a road map to 100 percent clean power for investor-owned utilities, as well as cooperative electric utilities in the state. It establishes some of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the country and also sets emission requirements for the electric utility sector.

“I don’t think that we need to have government mandates that are forcing people to lose their jobs and change their behaviors,” Martinez said.

Senate candidate Elisa Martinez speaks, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during a San Juan County Patriots meeting in Aztec.

Instead, she said government officials should lead by example and take steps in their own personal lives to reduce emissions. While Martinez acknowledges that the climate is changing, she questioned how much humans are contributing to it.

“I don’t believe that we are facing imminent doom in 12 years,” she said.

She said she does not feel the need to take steps to curtail her own personal emissions, but that politicians who believe emissions should be curtailed should take steps like driving lower-emission vehicles and car pooling.

Martinez said she supports the proposal to keep the San Juan Generating Station open and retrofit it with carbon-capture technology. If she is elected, she said she will support measures that will promote the development of carbon sequestration and utilization. This is one area where she said she could see herself working across the aisle with Democratic senators who also support the technology.

Elisa Martinez speaks, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, during a San Juan County Patriots meeting at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

If she is elected, she hopes to get a seat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She said she would push for measures that would protect and preserve the energy industry while looking at free-market ways to diversify energy sources.

Martinez has been a vocal opponent of abortion over the years and founded the New Mexico Alliance for Life. She is opposed to large government programs such as Medicare for all and instead believes that increasing competition in price structures will help lower the cost of health care in the United States.

Martinez is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and would be the first Native American woman senator if elected. She is also a Latina.

“My focus is putting New Mexico and New Mexican values first,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at

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