Retired Democrat Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales has changed his party affiliation to Republican, according to a voter registration card provided exclusively to the Piñon Post.
Gonzales, who served two terms as sheriff for the state’s largest county, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich, who has his eyes set on the New Mexico governorship once far-left incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham finishes her second and final term, a source close to Gonzales has shared exclusively with the Post.
Born and raised in the heart of New Mexico, Gonzales developed a strong commitment to public service from an early age. He began his law enforcement career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, steadily rising through the ranks due to his dedication, leadership, and commitment to community safety.
During his time as sheriff, Gonzales implemented several innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing public safety and building trust between law enforcement and the community.
His focus on community-oriented policing strategies garnered praise for fostering positive relationships between officers and residents. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office worked collaboratively with local organizations, schools, and businesses to address crime prevention and engage in community outreach programs.
Sheriff Gonzales demonstrated a keen understanding of the challenges facing law enforcement in the modern era. His efforts included implementing technology upgrades to enhance crime-fighting capabilities, advocating for officer training programs, and championing initiatives to address the root causes of criminal behavior. Gonzales’s commitment to transparency and accountability within the Sheriff’s Office contributed to increased public trust in law enforcement.
During Lujan Grisham’s brutal COVID-19 lockdowns, which resulted in 40% of New Mexico small businesses closing up shop, Gonzales refused to enforce her edicts, saying in 2020 that they were “turning everyday citizens into villains.”
“It is my opinion that the resources of the sheriff’s office should be focused on making our communities safe and more prosperous for everyday citizens,” he said, adding, “For that reason, we will not follow along with any orders that subvert your Constitutional rights. Therefore, my agency’s focus will continue to be public safety, apprehending actual criminals, and not harassing everyday citizens attempting to make a life for themselves and their families in Bernalillo County.”
The then-sheriff was honored at the White House by President Donald Trump in 2020 for his work on “Operation Legend,” which was a coordinated approach between law enforcement departments to aggressively investigate the most violent crimes.
In 2021, Gonzlaes ran for Albuquerque mayor, coming up short of incumbent far-left Democrat Mayor Tim Keller.
Now, with a potential U.S. Senate race on the horizon in 2024, the former sheriff could give Heinrich a run for his money if he decides to run. Republican Ben Luna of Otero County has already announced a run for the seat, a story broken exclusively by the Post in September.