On Saturday, Republican Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block announced his candidacy for the governorship of New Mexico in 2022, the first prominent GOP figure in the state to throw their hat in the ring to replace embattled Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was accused and later settled $62,500 for sexual assault. The announcement was held at the Rio Rancho Veterans Memorial Park.
Block, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force as a nuclear weapons officer in Afghanistan and a two-term county commissioner in Sandoval County, said, “I intend to be a governor that New Mexico can finally be proud of.”
Block was a co-sponsor of a 2018 measure establishing a “right-to-work” law in Sandoval County. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham-signed law was later passed that bans the enforcement of “right-to-work” laws, forcing New Mexicans to pay into labor unions even if they don’t want to.
“We are seeing us being silenced, being canceled. And today, we find ourselves fighting for our freedoms once again. Our way of life is being threatened and encroached upon by our own government, by elected officials that are tasked with representing us,” said Block during his remarks.
“Under the guise of safety, power-hungry politicians have stripped more and more of our rights away and erected laws that benefit their elitist allies while handcuffing hard-working New Mexicans.”
“Yet, Michelle [Lujan Grisham] is proud of where New Mexico stands today. Michelle is proud that New Mexico ranks last in education. Michelle is proud that New Mexico ranks first in child poverty. Michelle is proud that New Mexico ranks first in child hunger. Michelle is proud that New Mexico ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to violent crime, unemployment, and poverty,” said Block.
“These are things not to be proud of. These are things to be ashamed of, and Governor: New Mexico is ashamed of you.” He added, “All we are asking today is we want our freedoms back.”
Regarding Lujan Grisham’s silence on Joe Biden’s anti-energy policies such as canceling the job-rich Keystone XL pipeline, Block said, “The governor lied to all of you. She stayed silent because the governor wanted to go to D.C. to be either vice president or cabinet secretary because she knew she was leaving this state a disaster. And now we are going t hold her accountable.”
Block has a good turnout at the event, with many high-profile names showing up to back his bid for governor, including firebrand state Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Santa Fe) and Rep. Joshua Hernandez (R-Sandoval). Block is the first in the ring on the Republican side for the GOP nomination, however, others may have shown interest. State Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Grant, Hidalgo, and Sierra) has teased the idea, and 2020 candidate for Congress in the Third District, Karen Bedonie is planning an announcement later in April.