Claire Chase, a Republican U.S. House candidate and Roswell native, is coming under fire from her primary opponents and some people online for several Facebook posts she made in 2015 and 2016 about then-candidate Donald Trump.
Brietbart News, a conservative website, last Thursday published screenshots of seven Facebook posts she made about Trump between August 2015 and November 2016.
A director of government relations for Mack Energy in Artesia and chairman of the board of directors for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Chase, 36, is one of three Republicans competing to be their party’s nominee in next year’s election in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.
In one post dated Aug. 30, 2015 and tied to a story about Trump’s 2016 Republican primary opponent Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Chase referred to Trump by a vulgar name and said that the real estate developer and former reality TV personality was “unworthy of the office and the power of the president of THE United States.”
In another post dated January 2016, Chase linked to a New York Times story about Sarah Palin — the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor — endorsing Trump.
“This made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. If Trump is the nominee, I’m voting for Gary Johnson,” she wrote. Johnson, a former two-term New Mexico governor, was the 2016 Libertarian candidate for president.
And in another post made in March 2016, before a string of key primaries, Chase encouraged primary voters not to cast a vote for Trump.
“For those of you today in primary states today, go vote. But it’d be a lot cooler if you didn’t vote for Donald Trump,” the post states.
The Brietbart News story surfaced just weeks after Vice President Mike Pence visited Artesia, where Chase introduced him, and just days before Trump was to hold a rally in Rio Rancho.
Chase’s two Republican primary opponents — former state Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo, and Chris Mathys, a businessman from Las Cruces — responded to the Brietbart News story by questioning Chase’s loyalty to Trump.
“I didn’t know Claire Chase harbored such disdain for President Trump. My support for a secure border, our Constitutional rights, and our President has never changed,” Herrell said Monday.
Mathys said that Chase’s language to describe Trump was unacceptable.
“We as Americans need to respect our president. She disrespected Mr. Trump and she is obviously not a conservative,” Mathys said.
Comments on the Brietbart Facebook page in response to the story also slammed Chase for the language she used and questioned her conservative credentials.
Craig Murphy, a spokesperson for Chase’s campaign, verified Monday that she did write the posts. He added that she did vote for Trump in the November 2016 general election and that her views of him have grown much more favorable.
He added the posts were written during a crowded Republican primary, when Chase, like many Republicans, had misgivings about Trump’s ability to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in a general election.
“A lot of folks didn’t support him before and a lot of folks are in that category where they weren’t with him originally, but they were happy he was elected over Hillary and they are happy with the positive things he has done as president,” Murphy said.
New Mexico 2nd Congressional District stretches from south of Albuquerque down to the southern border, and is now held by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small.
Despite the controversy, Murphy said that in the campaign the issue has garnered little reaction from voters, and said he thinks the story about the posts was driven by Democrats who are looking to derail Chase’s candidacy in the primary.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.