Fact checking Dow’s announcement that she is seeking governor’s office in 2022

by Kathleen Sloan | July 21, 2021
12 min read
Screenshot from Rebecca Dow's gubernatorial campaign kickoff video

Rebecca Dow’s stance during her 2020 re-election campaign to retain her seat as state representative for New Mexico District 38 emphasized that Democrats and Republicans need to work together. In an eblast announcing her intention to run for the Republican nomination for governor sent out on July 7, bipartisanship was gone, and Dow declared war on Democrats, liberals and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

When Democrats and liberals struck back at the accuracy of many of the charges leveled by Dow in her announcement email, the Truth or Consequences native—one of five Republicans so far that have announced their candidacies for the 2022 gubernatorial race—claimed victimhood. “Ridiculous, debunked attacks by leftist organizations are already starting,” she stated in a July 14 email that also solicited campaign funds.  

The Sun did a fact check on each of Dow’s assertions in the July 7 announcement, which is downloadable below. The Sun found that the announcement contained a mixture of falsehoods, innuendo, culture war issues and some hard truths, all of which are related here in the order in which Dow presented them.


Dow asserted New Mexico’s “unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation” and that the state is “nationally last in education,” and “nationally last in child welfare.” Her statment that “[t]hese are the consequences of bad government” implied these problems are the result of Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s failed leadership. Lujan Grisham took office Jan. 1, 2019.

Historical data (see sources below) shows New Mexico has ranked near the bottom in child welfare and education for at least the last 10 years.

Unemployment was lower 10 years ago, during Democratic Governor Bill Richardson’s administration.


At the end of Richardson’s administration (2003-2010), unemployment rates were better than the national average. They worsened under Republican Susana Martinez’s administration (2011-2018).

New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in June 2021, according to the most recent verified data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. New Mexico and Connecticut both had an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent—the highest unemployment rate in the country. Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.5 percent. Indiana had the 16th highest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, Rhode Island the 34th highest at 5.9 percent and New Jersey the 45th highest at 7.3 percent. The average national unemployment rate in June was 5.9 percent.

An examination of U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data comparing New Mexico’s unemployment rate to the national average over the last 10 years shows that the state’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national average in every year but 2011, 2012 and 2013. 


According to the latest date available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2019 the national average of U.S. citizens over 25 years of age who had earned a high school diploma was 89.8 percent, compared to New Mexico’s 85.88 percent. Only three other states ranked lower than New Mexico in the percentage of their citizens 25 and older who had a high school education: California, with 84.03 percent, Texas with 84.65 percent and Mississippi with 85.5 percent.

Only 27.67 percent of New Mexicans 25 years or older had a bachelor’s degree in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This placed New Mexico 41st in the nation. States ranking lower were West Virginia, Oklahoma, Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas and Alabama.

Probably the most significant indicator of New Mexico’s educational ranking is its students’ performance on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, whose scores are regarded as the “nation’s report card.” The NAEP reading test for 4th graders is the most important. Educational studies show that if a child is not “reading to learn” by third grade, it is extremely likely that child will struggle with employment throughout life. She is unlikely to be an independent learner with critical thinking skills necessary in an increasingly complex and technologically advanced employment market.

The test is given every other year.

Dow’s Facebook post on critical race theory

The NAEP website states that the portion of New Mexico’s 4th graders who have not been “proficient” in reading has held steady at nearly 80 percent since 1998:

“In 2019, the average score of fourth-grade students in New Mexico was 208. This was lower than the average score of 219 for students in the nation. The average score for students in New Mexico in 2019 (208) was not significantly different from their average score in 2017 (208) and in 1998 (205). The percentage of students in New Mexico who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level was 24 percent in 2019. This percentage was not significantly different from that in 2017 (25 percent) and in 1998 (21 percent).”

Given the tragic evidence that most New Mexican children are poor readers, Dow’s June 28 Facebook claiming legislation needs to be passed to stop critical race theory from being taught in schools is off point, at best. It focuses attention on a problem that does not exist. Critical race theory, which has become a flash point in the culture wars over K-12 history education, is taught at the college level. The vast majority of New Mexican students are incapable of reading and understanding a theoretical framework that postulates educational, judicial, financial and other social systems discriminate against people of color and favor white people. Literacy is a much graver concern.


The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks states on 16 indicators of child welfare, including child poverty and teen birth rates.

In 2021, New Mexico ranked 49th, up from 50th the year before. This year Mississippi ranked 50th. New Mexico ranked 50th in 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

See New Mexico’s child-welfare report card for 2021 below.


To back up this assertion, Dow offers the following elaboration on the governor’s claimed self-dealing: “From ‘spoiling’ herself with lavish meals and such at taxpayer expense to breaking her own lockdown rules, to even using campaign funds to settle sexual harassment claims against herself.”


KOB 4, in an online article published on February 17, analyzed the governor’s expenditures from her office’s “contingency fund,” which is indeed derived from taxpayer dollars. The contingency fund is to be used to pay for events that “promote New Mexico,” the article states.

KOB 4’s analysis of expenditures covers the period from July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, which was during the pandemic lockdown. Most of the nearly $6,500 in expenditures was for food for in-person meetings that were held at the governor’s mansion and attended by the governor’s cabinet members and staff. The average monthly expense was about $1,100. Purchases included $350 for liquor.

It appears Dow’s assertion that Lujan Grisham spent taxpayer money on “lavish meals” is true. State Republicans asked State Auditor Brian Colon to determine if the expenditures were illegal. In a follow-up article on July 16, KOB 4 reported Colon found the law too vague to substantiate wrongdoing and suggested the legislature add definitions to the state law to clarify what constituted proper spending.

Lujan Grisham is the first New Mexico governor who has had to document exactly how contingency funds are spent. The state legislature passed a law in 2018 requiring public disclosure that was signed by Governor Susana Martinez, who was soon to step down. Martinez spent $8,000 in contingency funds in 2015 for a staff party, which the KOB article indicates precipitated the legislation.


KRQE Channel 13, in a May 26 article, made the case that Governor Lujan Grisham broke pandemic lockdown rules by her arrangements to take delivery of a jewelry purchase. The governor has a different version of this incident.

According to Lujan Grisham, in the first week of April she called a Lilly Barrack jewelry store employee with whom she had a “longstanding” relationship about an online purchase. The employee went to the store, picked up the purchased jewelry and took it home and left it outside the door. A friend of the governor’s picked up the package at the employee’s home.

Lockdown rules prohibited curbside service until May 1, 2020, but if the package was not left at the store, the governor did not violate her own lockdown orders.

In another version of events, related by an unnamed Lilly Barrack’s employee who only learned about the Governor’s purchase after it happened, the package was left outside the store, violating the lockdown order.


The Santa Fe New Mexican, in an April 13 article, reported that the governor settled a sexual harassment suit by using campaign funds, confirming Dow’s assertion.

James Hallinan was Lujan Grisham’s communications director during her 2018 campaign for governor. Hallinan later claimed that the governor had sexually harassed him by throwing water onto his crotch and then grabbing his crotch. “Our office maintains there is no merit to the allegations,” Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s press secretary, has stated.

The governor paid $62,500 from campaign funds to settle the suit in order to avoid the “continuing distraction and expense of litigation.” This is an allowed expense for “legal fees,” under the law.


Dow’s July 7 announcement claimed that several problems have arisen during Lujan Grisham’s administration because of the governor’s association with “radical cohorts in the Roundhouse.” Dow’s list of these adverse developments included loss of election integrity, the “skyrocketing” increase in government jobs, New Mexico’s closeness to “becoming” the only state in the nation to allow late-term abortions, the trampling of 2nd Amendment rights and “horrific lawlessness” at the border.


There is no evidence of loss of “election integrity,” as claimed by Dow.

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 14, 2020, that New Mexico electors confirmed Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

Soon after that, the Trump campaign committee filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Mexico. The suit claimed election officials violated state law by using absentee-ballot drop boxes that were not surveilled by a video camera. State law requires only that drop boxes be locked. The suit was later dismissed, along with more than 60 other cases filed nationally to advance Trump’s objections to the presidential election results.


Dow’s claim that government jobs have “skyrocketed” under Lujan Grisham’s administration, while 8,400 private-sector jobs have been lost is not only false, it is a reversal of the truth.

According to a June 2021 economic update published by New Mexico Workforce Connection, from May 2020 to May 2021, 43,000 jobs were added to the private sector (an increase of 7.4 percent), while the public sector lost 3,100 jobs (a decrease of 1.7 percent).


Federal law has prohibited since 2003 what is known as “partial birth abortion,” in which a late-pregnancy fetus is killed outside of the womb. An exception for this form of abortion is allowed if the mother’s life is in danger. Other methods for late-term abortion are allowed by federal law, but some state laws make them illegal.

New Mexico currently outlaws a late-term abortion method termed “dilation and extraction.” Dow’s claim that the state will soon allow late-term procedures is not supported by any legislative attempt to overturn this law.  Governor Lujan Grisham signed a bill this year that repealed a 1969 state law that banned most forms of abortion because, according to an Associated Press report, the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade, made abortion legal in the Unites States, rendering the New Mexico law unenforceable.


Although Dow used the plural “laws,” New Mexico has only one red-flag law. It allows those close to persons deemed likely to use a firearm on themselves or others to petition the court to have the firearms removed after due process.

The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” went into effect May 20, 2020, and, since then, four petitions have been filed to have firearms removed from at-risk persons, according to a report by KRQE Channel 13. One of those petitions was denied by the court. 

New Mexico is among 18 states that have passed red-flag laws permitting the removal of firearms from those in mental and emotional distress.

The recent New Mexico legislative session saw the introduction of an amendment to New Mexico’s red-flag law that sought to add law enforcement officers to those permitted to petition the court to remove a firearm from a person deemed at risk. The amendment did not pass.


New Mexico is part of a U.S. Border Patrol sector that includes all of the state and El Paso. Data about the so-called “El Paso Sector” does not break out statistics for New Mexico alone, making it difficult to refute or substantiate Dow’s claim about “lawlessness on our borders.”

“Lawlessness” is also difficult to determine because the statistics kept by the U.S. Border Patrol are for “encounters” with persons seeking admission to the U.S. by both lawful and unlawful means.

Specifically, these statistics are grouped together as “Title 8 Inadmissibles and Title 42 Expulsions.” The former category is defined on the U.S. Border Patrol website as “individuals encountered at ports of entry who are seeking lawful admission into the United States but are determined to be inadmissible, individuals presenting themselves to seek humanitarian protection under our laws, and individuals who withdraw an application for admission and return to their countries of origin within a short timeframe.”

Enacted in March 2020, Title 42 Expulsions allow for rejection based not on nationality or other standards, but for the blanket reason of decreasing the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

According to Wikipedia, “Title 42 expulsions are removals by the U.S. government of persons who have recently been in a country where a communicable disease was present.”

Title 42 Expulsions are administered by the Border Patrol’s Office of Field Operations, which also oversees Title 8 Inadmissibles.

The U.S. Border Patrol, on the other hand, according to its website, only handles “Title 8 Apprehensions.” Title 8 is a huge body of law that covers all immigration and nationality issues that do not necessarily constitute “lawlessness” on the part of the person seeking admission.

“Apprehensions refer to the physical control or temporary detainment of a person who is not lawfully in the U.S. which may or may not result in an arrest,” states the U.S. Border Patrol website.

Office of Field Operations Encounters in El Paso Sector

From October 2020 to June 2021 the Office of Field Operations in the El Paso Sector “encountered” 14,487 individuals classified as Title 8 Inadmissibles and Title 42 Exclusions. In the three-month period of October through December 2020, 8,590 encounters occurred, for a monthly average of 2,863 encounters.

In the six-month period of January through June 2021, 5,897 encounters occurred, for a monthly average of 983 encounters.

The number of Office of Field Operations encounters went down about 66 percent in the last six months.

U.S Border Patrol Encounters in El Paso Sector

From October 2020 to June 2021, the number of encounters or “Title 8 Apprehensions” by the U.S. Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector was 171,171. There were 34,845 encounters in the three-month period of October through December 2020, for an average of 11,615 encounters a month.

There were 135,326 encounters in the six-month period from January through June 2021, for an average of 22,554 encounters a month.

Although not necessarily indicating an increase in unlawful behavior, the number of encounters in the El Paso Sector has doubled in the last six months.

This and related data on border control activity may be examined here.

Kathleen Sloan is the Sun’s founder and chief reporter. She can be reached at kathleen.sloan@gmail.com or 575-297-4146.
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Understanding New Mexico's proposed new social studies standards for K-12 students

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
—National Council for the Social Studies 

Reader Michael L. Hayes of Las Cruces commented: What impresses me is that both the proposed standards and some of the criticisms of them are equally grotesque. I make this bold statement on the basis of my experience as a peripatetic high school and college English teacher for 45 years in many states with many students differing in race, religion, gender and socioeconomic background, and as a civic activist (PTA) in public education (My career, however, was as an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy and the environment.)

The proposed social studies standards are conceptually and instructionally flawed. For starters, a “performance standard” is not a standard at all; it is a task. Asking someone to explain something is not unlike asking someone to water the lawn. Nothing measures the performance, but without a measure, there is no standard. The teacher’s subjective judgment will be all that matters, and almost anything will count as satisfying a “performance standard,” even just trying. Students will be left to wonder “what is on the teacher’s mind?” or “have I sucked up enough.”

Four other quick criticisms of the performance standards. One, they are nearly unintelligible because they are written in jargon. PED’s use of jargon in a document intended for the public is worrisome. Bureaucrats often use jargon to confuse or conceal something uninformed, wrong or unworthy. As a result, most parents, some school board members and more than a few teachers do not understand them.

Two, the performance standards are so vague that they fail to define the education which teachers are supposed to teach, students are supposed to learn, and parents are supposed to understand. PED does not define words like “explain” or “describe” so that teachers can apply “standards” consistently and fairly. The standards do not indicate what teachers are supposed to know in order to teach or specify what students are supposed to learn. Supervisors cannot know whether teachers are teaching social studies well or poorly. The standards are so vague that the public, especially parents or guardians, cannot know the content of public education.

Three, many performance standards are simply unrealistic, especially at grade level. Under “Ethnic, Cultural and Identity Performance Standards”; then under “Diversity and Identity”; then under “Kindergarten,” one such standard is: “Identify how their family does things both the same as and different from how other people do things.” Do six-year-olds know how other people do things? Do they know whether these things are relevant to diversity and identity? Or another standard: “Describe their family history, culture, and past to current contributions of people in their main identity groups.” (A proficient writer would have hyphenated the compound adjective to avoid confusing the reader.) Do six-year-olds know so much about these things in relation to their “identity group”? Since teachers obviously do not teach them about these other people and have not taught them about these groups, why are these and similar items in the curriculum; or do teachers assign them to go home and collect this information?

Point four follows from “three”; some information relevant to some performance measures requires a disclosure of personal or family matters. The younger the students, the easier it is for teachers to invade their privacy and not only their privacy, but also the privacy of their parents or guardians, or neighbors, who may never be aware of these disclosures or not become aware of them until afterward. PED has no right to design a curriculum which requires teachers to ask students for information about themselves, parents or guardians, or neighbors, or puts teachers on the spot if the disclosures reveal criminal conduct. (Bill says Jeff’s father plays games in bed with his daughter. Lila says Angelo’s mother gives herself shots in the arm.) Since teacher-student communications have no legal protection to ensure privacy, those disclosures may become public accidentally or deliberately. The effect of these proposal standards is to turn New Mexico schools and teachers into investigative agents of the state and students into little informants or spies.

This PED proposal for social studies standards is a travesty of education despite its appeals to purportedly enlightened principles. It constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and civil liberties. It should be repudiated; its development, investigated; its PED perpetrators, dismissed. No state curriculum should encourage or require the disclosure of private personal information.

I am equally outraged by the comments of some of T or C’s school board members: Christine LaFont and Julianne Stroup, two white Christian women, who belong to one of the larger minorities in America and assume white and Christian privileges. In different terms but for essentially the same reason, both oppose an education which includes lessons about historical events and trends, and social movements and developments, of other minorities. They object to the proposal for the new social studies standards because of its emphasis on individual and group identities not white or Christian. I am not going to reply with specific objections; they are too numerous and too pointed.

Ms. LaFont urges: “It’s better to address what’s similar with all Americans. It’s not good to differentiate.” Ms. Stroup adds: “Our country is not a racist country. We have to teach to respect each other. We have civil rights laws that protect everyone from discrimination. We need to teach civics, love and respect. We need to teach how to be color blind.”

Their desires for unity and homogeneity, and for mutual respect, are a contradiction and an impossibility. Aside from a shared citizenship, which implies acceptance of the Constitution, the rule of law and equality under the law, little else defines Americans. We are additionally defined by our race, religion, national origin, etc. So mutual respect requires individuals to respect others different from themselves. Disrespect desires blacks, Jews or Palestinians to assimilate or to suppress or conceal racial, religious or national origin aspects of their identity. The only people who want erasure of nonwhite, non-Christian, non-American origin aspects of identity are bigots. Ms. LaFont and Ms. Stroud want standards which, by stressing similarities and eliding differences, desire the erasure of such aspects. What they want will result in a social studies curriculum that enables white, Christian, native-born children to grow up to be bigots and all others to be their victims. This would be the academic equivalent of ethnic cleansing.


This postmortem of a case involving a 75-year-old women who went missing from her home in Hillsboro last September sheds light on the bounds of law enforcement’s capacity to respond, especially in large rural jurisdictions such as Sierra County, and underscores the critical role the public, as well as concerned family and friends, can play in assisting a missing person’s search.

Reader Jane Debrott of Hillsboro commented: Thank you for your article on the tragic loss of Betsey. I am a resident of Hillsboro, a friend of Rick and Betsey, and a member of H.E.L.P. The thing that most distresses me now, is the emphasis on Rick’s mis-naming of the color of their car. I fear that this fact will cause Rick to feel that if he had only gotten the facts right, Betsey may have been rescued before it was too late. The incident was a series of unavoidable events, out of everyone’s control, and we will never know what place the correct color of her car may have had in the outcome. It breaks my heart to think that Rick has had one more thing added to his “what ifs” concerning this incident.

Diana Tittle responded: Dear Jane, the Sun undertook this investigation at the request of a Hillsboro resident concerned about the town’s inability to mount a prompt, coordinated response to the disappearance of a neighbor. From the beginning, I shared your concern about how our findings might affect Betsy’s family and friends. After I completed my research and began writing, I weighed each detail I eventually chose to include against my desire to cause no pain and the public’s right to know about the strengths and limitations of law enforcement’s response and the public’s need to know about how to be of meaningful assistance.

There was information I withheld about the state police investigation and the recovery. But I decided to include the issue of the car’s color because the individuals who spotted Betsy’s car emphasized how its color had been key to their identification of it as the vehicle described in Betsy’s Silver Alert. Because the misinformation was corrected within a couple of hours, I also included in this story the following editorial comment meant to put the error in perspective: “The fact that law enforcement throughout the state was on the lookout in the crucial early hours after Betsy’s disappearance for an elderly woman driving a “light blue” instead of a “silver” Accord would, in retrospect, likely not have changed the outcome of the search” [emphasis added].

I would also point to the story’s overarching conclusion about the inadvisability of assigning blame for what happened: “In this case, a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances, many of them beyond human control, hindered the search that it would fall to Hamilton’s department to lead.”

It is my hope that any pain caused by my reporting will eventually be outweighed by its contribution to a better community understanding of what it will take in the future to mount a successful missing person’s search in rural Sierra County.

2 thoughts on “Fact checking Dow’s announcement that she is seeking governor’s office in 2022”

  1. THANK YOU so much for this fact-finding article. I have emailed Ms. Dow personally regarding the possible reopening of the mine in Hillsboro and her replies, all of them, were straight Republican Party line. I understand this is her constant stance, so trying to pretend she is open to compromise on many subjects isn’t working for me, at least. And with her constant use of non-factual claims regarding our Governor . . . shame on her. She is still young enough to learn something from this excellent article. CHECK YOUR FACTS. No, there is no such thing as “alternative facts.”

  2. Alice Michael Hutchins

    WOW! Just wow…. Are you going to do this for all of the Republican candidates running for office? Sierra County Sun, is it possible to ease off just a bit on the Rabid Rebecca stance? I would love to see some research into all of the money and awareness she has brought into our area. She is a huge advocate for those left in the margins of society and is an honorable, honest woman. The campaign the Democrats from Sierra County waged against her last election cycle was an embarrassment to me, a Democrat. Yes, some of her stances are not mine, but if she knew she had the votes of sensible-minded people from across all party lines, then she wouldn’t have to pacify any of the crazies from the other side. We can continue to choose a party or person. I choose a person every time, party be damned.

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