Mark Ronchetti, well-known Albuquerque meteorologist, is in the New Mexico governor's race against incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham. A Republican, Ronchetti resigned from KRQE Albuquerque last year to run for governor, and is in a tightening race for the post.
Ronchetti has this mission statement on his website: "I'm running to be your Governor and my focus will be simple: A governor who will fight to empower and encourage small businesses. A governor who will fight for parents and kids to ensure they get the education they deserve. A governor who will take our rapidly growing crime rate seriously and will take steps to make our cities and border safer. Most importantly, I’ll be a governor that does more than talk. I’ll listen and find solutions that actually work."
He did not respond to requests to speak.
The polling platform FiveThirtyEight had Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, at 49% on October 10, and Ronchetti at 40%. New Mexico insiders say the race has tightened.
It was a year ago to the day that Ronchetti resigned from the KRQE chief meteorologist position. "He informed KRQE he's considering running for governor of New Mexico," the two-sentence KRQE story read in part.
Nexstar Media Group owns KRQE.
Ronchetti has received an endorsement from Dick Knipfing, retired KRQE anchor. One spot sees Knipfing, who retired in 2014 after 51 years on Albuquerque TV, shoot down what he calls "attack ads" against his former newsroom colleague. "I have known Mark for 20 years — he is one of the best people I know," said Knipfing. "Truthful, smart, compassionate. We need him now."
Bill Anderson, KRQE VP and general manager, said both Ronchetti and Knipfing are all over the station’s air once again — in commercials. "The whole thing looks like an old KRQE promo," quipped Anderson, who described Ronchetti as an extraordinarily popular TV personality in DMA No. 48.
Ronchetti ran for U.S. Senate in 2020 and lost to Sen. Ben Ray Luján. Anderson said his former chief meterologist has not held public office, but has long been a keen follower of New Mexico politics. He described election nights in years past, when meteorologists typically have a quiet night, and Ronchetti in the newsroom doggedly following the races. "I had every confidence that, when his TV career ended, he'd run for office," Anderson said. "I did my best to keep him as long as I could."
The Ronchetti website said the candidate would bring a "pragmatic outsider perspective" to the capital. Ronchetti is pro-life and a defender of the Second Amendment. He listed crime, education and border security as key issues. He spoke of growing up a first-generation American.
"Following the news was important," his bio reads, "and there was no shortage of political conversations and disagreements around their (often loud) Italian family's dinner table." ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.