Former New Mexico GOP executive director Ash Wright is unconvinced by the Trump campaign's scheme to turn the state red in 2020.
Donald Trump held a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on Monday, amid news that his campaign hopes to win the Democratic-leaning state in the 2020 elections. On Tuesday, a former state party executive director threw cold water on that notion, telling Fox News that such a win was not likely.
Ash Wright, a Republican strategist who served as the Republican National Committee's so-called victory director in New Mexico during the 2010 campaign, was asked on "Fox & Friends First" about winning the state.
Though Wright praised Trump's role in creating a "great economy" in the state, he noted that "the real question here though is can the actual campaign on the ground translate that into hard votes."
"Republicans have in my opinion roughly three main core issues they have to address. One is voter registration," he said, noting that "over 45% of all registered voters in New Mexico are Democrat, only 30% are Republican. So Republicans have a long way to go to increase their portion of voter registration or capture a large number of independents to be successful in the state."
Wright then noted that Trump has an uphill battle in the state's major metropolitan areas, like the counties that include Santa Fe and Albuquerque. "Donald Trump lost those two counties alone by over 85,000 votes in 2016," he noted. "And they have to find a way to capture more independents there or increase Republican turnout there. And it's the only way to actually make him successful in rural counties."
Asked if Trump, who lost the state by more than 8 points in 2016 to Hillary Clinton, could win this time by capturing the 9% of the vote won by Libertarian nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Wright again offered a rather pessimistic take.
"It is possible, but it is going to be a challenge," he answered. "[Johnson] ran on an independent, on a very moderate ticket. And the question here is, can Republicans continue to message to hard conservative voters that are living in the western part of the state, that are working in upstream oilfield jobs, and at the same time produce a message that’s actually gonna play well with independents in larger metropolitan areas where Mr. Johnson performed well?
He suggested that Trump would have to tone down his anti-immigrant rhetoric to improve his low approval ratings among Hispanic voters but suggested that that idea might not "translate and get all the way to the White House."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.