Dow cites Roundhouse record as she seeks GOP nomination

Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, speaks at the Roundhouse Life Rally in January. People from across the state took part in the anti-abortion protest that includes several Republican lawmakers. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Editor’s note: The Journal today begins a series of profiles of Republican gubernatorial candidates and examination of other contested races statewide.

SANTA FE — An unexpected pregnancy at age 19 turned Rebecca Dow’s life upside down.

She was a scholarship student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and had no money in the bank.

After seeing an ultrasound, Dow scrapped his plans for a bachelor’s degree, sued an associate instead, and took a job in early childhood education. At 26, she returned to New Mexico and founded a nonprofit group in Sierra County.

“I saw my daughter’s heart beat and I knew her life was in my hands,” Dow said in a recent interview. “I chose life.”

The ripple effects can be seen in Dow’s political career.

Now 48, she is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, building on her legislative record as sponsor of bills on early childhood education, foster families and child care. limits of abortion. Lowering taxes and crime were also priorities.

It was advocacy for early childhood education – where Dow built her career – that first brought her to the Roundhouse, before running for office.

An early pregnancy “was a pivot in my life,” Dow said, “but it also gave me empathy for the families I’ve served over the past decades. Often Republicans are typecast or defined as people who only care about life until birth, but I spent 22 years empowering women to choose life and career, work and school – and succeed.

Dow, a six-year member of the State House, is one of five Republicans seeking the June 7 nomination to face Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this fall.

Dow’s record in public service, she says, demonstrates the strengths she would bring to the governor’s office — a voice for conservative values, but also a knowledge of how to work with Democrats to get things done.

But his legislative mandate has also been a source of criticism.

One of her opponents in the gubernatorial race, Mark Ronchetti, has launched a series of ads characterizing Dow as a “liberal politician” who is less conservative than she claims, highlighting a handful of legislative votes.

A pending lawsuit before the state Ethics Commission also accuses him of violating state law by failing to properly disclose his earnings from a nonprofit childcare group that has received state funding.

At one point, documents released in the case indicate that Dow refused to sit for a court-ordered deposition, resulting in penalties of $50 a day.

She vigorously fought the ethics allegations – claiming she disclosed more than necessary – and her lawyer disputed that she should sit down for deposition immediately.

Q&A: Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Dow

NAME: Rebecca L. Dow POLITICAL PARTY: Republican OCCUPATION: Self-employed HOME CITY: Truth or…

Legislative history

Dow won the 2016 Legislature election in a district that embraces truth or consequence, and rose through the ranks to become House Republican Caucus Chair, a leadership role that includes chairing private meetings. where members discuss legislative strategy and similar issues.

She is also a prominent voice in House debates, often clashing with Democrats, who vastly outnumber Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Dow has sponsored or helped advance a number of GOP priorities — including bills to make it easier to hold defendants charged with certain crimes before trial, eliminate Social Security income taxes, and limit the governor’s emergency powers.

Democrats have generally blocked the proposals, although this year they agreed to exempt more Social Security income from tax.

Dow said her record shows she can work across the aisle when needed. In recent years, she has successfully passed legislation extending a deadline to give small businesses more time to apply for stimulus loans, setting accountability standards for early years programs and requiring schools to report financial information. in line.

Dow also helped establish rules prohibiting the use of partisan data for the New Mexico Citizens Redistricting Committee, which made nonbinding recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.

Another lawmaker “may be someone I disagree with 90% of the time, but if they’re advocating for victims of domestic violence, and that’s 5% of the time we agree, I totally agree,” Dow said of his work. at the rotunda.

‘Not afraid’

But she faced criticism in the Republican primary that her electoral record was not conservative enough.

Dow, for example, voted for at least one version of the proposal to take more money out of New Mexico’s largest permanent fund to pay for early childhood education. She generally opposed the legislation – questioning whether the money would be spent efficiently – but joined another House Republican in backing the measure last year.

The bill was later revised, and Dow said it did not support the final version.

Dow has also been criticized for votes in favor of a pandemic relief measure that included a fund for low-income households, regardless of immigration status, and legislation specifying that residents of New Mexico are eligible for professional and professional licenses, also regardless of their immigration status. .

Ronchetti’s ads harshly questioned Dow’s voting record, portraying her as liberal.

“Politicians love to sound tough, especially on border security,” says the narrator of one ad, “but their records tell the truth.”

Dow describes the ads as a bogus attack on its record.

House Minority Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, said it was “out of place” to suggest Dow wasn’t really conservative.

“Obviously when you’re pushing to get very important pieces of legislation across the finish line, you’re going to have to have Democrats working with you,” he said. “There are times when she may have had to hold her nose to certain parts of the legislation to make sure she can get through other very important issues, particularly around education.”

Dow said she opposes making undocumented immigrants eligible for cash assistance, but she must vote on the bill as a whole and supports other parts of it.

Loren Lujan, an adoptive parent from Bernalillo County, said Dow is an important voice at the Roundhouse for foster families and an effective advocate for reform of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Dow understands the practical impact of the agency’s policies for frontline families, Lujan said.

“She’s not afraid to go against the system,” Lujan said, “especially when no one else will.”

A catchy TV commercial from Dow also sparked some pushback. In the ad – which touts Dow’s proposal to ban critical race theory in schools – images of children appear onscreen as Dow asks, “Could you talk to him about explicit sex, teach them to hate each other, to force girls to compete with boys? ”

It prompted a public rebuke from the Gathering of Nations founder, who told Dow the announcement was hurtful when he presented it at the powwow last month.

Non-profit work

After returning to Truth or Consequences in 1999, Dow founded AppleTree Educational Center, a nonprofit faith-based organization that provides preschool and other services to families in Sierra County.

Her career, she said, is “to bring families who cannot see beyond government dependency…to self-sufficiency.”

AppleTree has also been a source of controversy for her. Much of its revenue comes from state grants and contracts.

The ethics allegations against Dow accuse it of failing to properly disclose its earnings from the group and of representing it before state agencies in violation of a law limiting when lawmakers can do so.

Dow bluntly disputes the allegations. She says she has met all income disclosure requirements, consulted with legislative and other state officials on how to complete disclosure forms, and has the right to represent voters before agencies. of State.

The ethics commission’s general counsel found probable cause to conclude that Dow violated the law, but there was no final judgment. The allegations include a complaint that Dow violated state financial disclosure law by failing to report more than $5,000 in gross revenue from the AppleTree Education Center in 2019.

The case is pending.

Dow campaign manager Josh Siegel said Dow “has been open and transparent” and looks forward to a hearing on the case in July.

“Make no mistake about it,” Siegel said, “this case came from her progressive opponents and their big government lawyers because they see Rebecca as a threat.”

Dow is now listed as a volunteer ambassador for AppleTree.

Dow has also faced litigation. In 2016, she was among those charged with negligence after a former employee of a boys and girls club she ran was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing two boys.

Police investigating the scheme’s hiring practices found it had ‘three levels’ of background checks, including fingerprinting and screening of sex offender registers. Background checks did not flag the former employee for prior convictions.

Siegel said the author was arrested within two hours of Dow learning of the first incident and confessed promptly.

Dow was later removed from the lawsuit, Siegel said, and the Boys & Girls Club, not Dow, paid a settlement to end the case.

News of the affair surfaced during his run at the State House in 2016.

Family

Dow, for his part, says his life story shows courage. She returned to Oral Roberts University as an adult and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2016, crossing the stage with her son and daughter, who are now in their late twenties.

She and her husband, Aaron, have been married for about 30 years. Aaron and Rebecca Dow also have a multimedia company, Dow Technology.

Montoya, a Republican legislative leader and Dow campaign supporter, describes Rebecca Dow as “on the go, just constantly. She is tireless,” he said.

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