Even after New Mexico shootings, little GOP reckoning over election denialism

Republican officials in New Mexico knew that Solomon Peña, the man police accused last week of orchestrating shootings into the homes of four Albuquerque Democrats, had

served nearly seven years in prison for his role in smash-and-grab thefts before he lost his bid as the GOP nominee for a state House seat. They also knew that Peña was a

fervent proponent of the view that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. Authorities said Peña was persuaded that his own election in November had been stolen — despite being

defeated by nearly 50 points — and targeted the homes of officials who refused to entertain demands that his loss be reversed. After Peña’s arrest, Republican leaders

condemned the attacks, which included a spray of bullets into a 10-year-old’s bedroom, and acknowledged that the former candidate’s criminal history should have been a red flag.

There was far less apparent interest in a reckoning over Peña’s beliefs in widespread voter fraud, a false theory pushed relentlessly by former president Donald Trump and his

supporters. The attacks may have been heinous, top Republicans insisted, but the party’s embrace of election denialism was not the core problem. “It’s important

that we say we can’t stand for crap like this,” said Mark Ronchetti, a Republican who lost the 2022 governor’s race to Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham. “But blaming

Trump — that’s not fair to do.”