Governors’ campaigns clash over debate protocol

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Mark Ronchetti squared off Friday in a debate on KOB-TV. The second scheduled gubernatorial debate will take place on October 12 and will be hosted by KOAT-TV, along with KKOB Radio and the Albuquerque Journal. (Images courtesy of applicants)

SANTA FE — As Republican Mark Ronchetti and Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham sparred live in an hour-long debate on KOB-TV last Friday, there were fireworks backstage as well.

A Lujan Grisham campaign staffer said on Twitter that Ronchetti’s campaign broke debate rules by bringing Nicole McCleskey, a pollster and wife of Ronchetti’s political adviser Jay McCleskey, into the studio where the debate was taking place. during a scheduled break.

But the debate rules provided by the Ronchetti campaign do not explicitly mention campaign staff entering the studio, although the rules do mention that a private room is available for a limited number of staff.

“The fact that Lujan Grisham’s campaign is complaining about this shows how poorly it has performed,” Ronchetti campaign spokesman Ryan Sabel said. “If it helps them feel better, next time our staff will make sure the governor has some water as well.”

Although not specifically prohibited in the rules, the Ronchetti campaign had been instructed not to have personal contact with the candidate during the debate, said KOB reporter Matt Grubs, who was one of two moderators. of the debate.

He also said Ronchetti’s campaign rep was asked to leave the studio as soon as station officials noticed her presence.

The Friday night debate was the first of two debates scheduled in this year’s gubernatorial race. The second debate is scheduled for October 12 and will be hosted by KOAT-TV, along with KKOB Radio and the Journal.

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