I saw a bumper sticker on social media this week that made me see red. It’s yellow with red letters like a New Mexico license plate, complete with a Zia symbol, with the slogan, “DITCH THE WITCH / MAKE NEW MEXICO RED.”

Several of my friends, who are all intelligent, thoughtful people, have posted it. I really dislike it.

And I want to make it clear I have absolutely no intention of voting for Michelle Lujan Grisham. I think she has in general been a lousy governor. In her rush to make us even with California, she has further stagnated our economy and done little or nothing to address some of the core root causes of our endemic poverty—abysmal child welfare services and marginal public education.

THAT should be the focus of Republican campaign sloganeering, not grade school recess taunts. These bumper stickers have apparently been around for a couple months at least. It’s not clear who is behind them—the state party, a local or county party organization, a candidate, or a conservative entrepreneur.

I know, I know, there is a deliberate purpose to overtly negative campaigning. I’ve been the target of it. It’s very popular in the East Mountains. The whole point is to create an emotional response in voters to drive turnout at the polls.

I pointed out in a recent column that it’s imperative that GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti get every Republican in the state to the voting booth this fall. With the potential for Roe v. Wade backlash driving potentially high Democratic turnout, the Republican get-out-the-vote campaign is crucial.

That’s why, as I previously wrote, the low-key DeSantis visit/endorsement was so strategic. It energized the base in its geographic heart without getting a lot of statewide play that might alienate moderates or decline-to-state/independent voters. But this “DITCH…” campaign is different.

Ultra-negative campaigning works here when the partisan numbers are strongly in your favor. It can energize your supporters and mobilize them to show up to vote. However, moderates and independents also have an emotional reaction to this type of campaigning. They don’t like it.

Ronchetti does not have the numbers in his favor. Currently 44.4% of the state is registered with the Democratic Party, 31.1% with the Republicans, and 22.4% are decline-to-state or independent. The most recent poll shows Lujan Grisham seven percentage points ahead of Ronchetti.

The wildcard is of course with the DTS voters. Ronchetti must walk a fine line on the abortion issue, which Lujan Grisham has been attacking him on since the primary. In a poll released Wednesday, only 12% of New Mexicans want a total ban. He’s got to return to bread-and-butter issues like crime, education and the economy.

We saw this shift to the issues and away from mean-kid name-calling in 2020 when the center moved to a truly anemic candidate, Joe Biden, simply as an alternative to the Bully-In-Chief, Donald Trump. The center has not changed in two years.

Keeping Ron DeSantis in Carlsbad was one thing. Having childish mean-spirited bumper stickers across the state could do Ronchetti serious harm with the moderate and DTS voting bloc he must win over to win in November.

Bottom line, Ronchetti has plenty of material for a winning campaign without diving down to lowest-rung schoolyard trolling. The Ronchetti campaign should at the very least distance itself from this sophomoric rhetoric. I hope my fellow conservatives will resist the urge to plaster this tripe across the back of their vehicles.