Failed New Mexico politician Solomon Pena, who lost his race for a state House seat in November but refused to concede, has been arrested for allegedly hiring four men to shoot up the houses of local Democratic politicians (thankfully no one was hurt).
This has been a hot story in the leftist media, as they love anything with violent-MAGA overtones. The PBS NewsHour on Tuesday spent 10 minutes covering Pena, prominently noting his support for Trump and the fact Pena referred to himself as a “MAGA King.”
PBS wasted no time drawing larger anti-"right-wing" implications from the no-injury shooting in Albuquerque. But as you'll see, the segment contrasted mightily with how the NewsHour treated the 2017 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter.
Host Geoff Bennett: Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico have linked a series of drive-by shootings targeting the homes of local Democratic politicians to a defeated Republican candidate. The case spotlights the troubling rise in extremist violence against elected officials across the country.
Local New Mexico officials had the talking points down pat, and PBS forwarded them:
Mayor Tim Keller: This was about a right-wing radical, an election denier, who was arrested today and someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence.
PBS flooded the zone on this story about a no-casualty shooting spree in Albuquerque, going to their local correspondent in New Mexico, Gene Grant, and then interviewing a Democratic official, who noted that Pena’s Democratic opponent tried to keep Pena “off the ballot because he had a felony record.” Pena did seven years in prison for his part in “a smash-and-grab ring.”
(Incidentally, Bobby Rush, former member of the militant Marxist group the Black Panthers, who served as a congressman from Illinois for 30 years, did prison time on a weapons charge in the 1970s, so note that the left sees nothing wrong per se with people with criminal records running for office.)
Bennett gave a New Mexico Democrat the floor and nudged her on:
And we’re going to talk more now about the rise of politically motivated violence. For that, we're joined by Democratic Secretary of State in New Mexico, Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Thank you for being with us. I want to ask you to expand on something you posted on Twitter earlier about this case. You said, this is precisely how dangerous rhetoric and conspiracy theories promote violence toward elected officials. Tell me more about that, how you view the threat of violent political speech crossing over into the realm of violent political acts.
The ten-minute segment blasting election denial and suggesting an epidemic of conservative-based political violence contrasted with the strange way the NewsHour treated the politically targeted shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and three others in 2017 by Bernie Sanders fan James Hodgkinson.
Somehow that political violence by a leftist was twisted into placing the ultimate blame on…former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his anti-Democrat rhetoric in the 1990s. Guest Mark Shields began by lamenting the good old days in Washington:
....when the legitimacy of your opponent was never questioned….And it changed. And one of the reasons it changed is that a man was elected from the state of Georgia who ran on the book, and the book was, you use these words. You use sick. You refer pathetic, traitor, liar, corrupt, shame, enemy of normal Americans. This was Newt Gingrich’s Bible!
A partial transcript is below, click “Expand” to read:
January 17, 2023
Bennett: Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico have linked a series of drive-by shootings targeting the homes of local democratic politicians to a defeated Republican candidate. The case spotlights the troubling rise in extremist violence against elected officials across the country.
Unidentified Male: He's an election denier, he doesn't want to accept the results of the election.
Bennett: Former Republican candidate Solomon Pena is behind bars tonight in New Mexico, allegedly for a string of politically-motivated shootings that took place after he lost his race for a state house seat in November.
Police Chief Medina: It is believed that he is the mastermind that was behind this, and that was organizing this. Geoff: The charge, that Pena paid four men to shoot and damage the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners, all Democrats. The shootings happened after Pena allegedly approached local lawmakers, including some whose homes were targeted, falsely claiming his election was fraudulent.
No one was injured in any of the incidents, but state senator Linda Lopez said one bullet passed through her 10-year-old daughter's bedroom. In a press conference late yesterday, authorities outlined key evidence that led them to Pena.
Mr. Hartsock: The evidence that we have is not only firearm, but it's also from cell phones and electronic records and surveillance video and multiple witnesses inside and outside of this conspiracy that have helped us weave together what occurred.
Bennett: The 39-year-old lost his bid for the state house in a landslide, but he wrote on Twitter that he never conceded. A fervent supporter of Donald Trump, Pena accused his opponent of rigging the race before polls had even closed and after the election, called himself "The Maga king."
Mayor Keller: These shootings were indeed politically motivated. Geoff: Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, condemned extremist violence, while speaking with reporters. Mayor Keller: This was about a right-wing radical, an election denier who was arrested today and someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence.
Bennett: Following this all closely is Gene Grant of New Mexico PBS. Thank you for being here. Pena had a criminal history and there were lawmakers in new Mexico who tried to keep him from running because of that. Tell me more.
Grant: Specifically his opponent, Miguel Garcia, he was the incumbent, he filed in court to keep Mr. Pena off the ballot because he had a felony record, which came from an amazing background -- he was part of a smash and grab ring. People who would take stolen vehicles, drive them from the front doors of -- to the front doors of big-box stores and steal things. He did almost seven years in prison for this, a serious criminal background. It was unsuccessful keep him off the ballot. The judge stated in part that if he is eligible to vote, he is eligible to run. He had done his five years of probation as well so he was not kept off the ballot, but he lost by more than 2000 votes.
Bennett: Were going to talk more about the rise of politically motivated violence. For that, we're joined by democratic secretary of state in New Mexico, Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Thank you for being with us. I want to ask you to expand on something you posted on Twitter earlier about this case. You said this is precisely how dangerous rhetoric and conspiracy theories promote violence toward elected officials. Tell me more about that, how you view the threat of violent political speech crossing over into the realm of violent political acts.
Sec. Oliver: Thank you for having me and giving me the opportunity to elaborate a little bit on this truly unfortunate and difficult topic. As many folks are aware, I as an election official, have been subjected to threats of political violence over the last couple of years, since the deeply troubling big lie came about in 2020. I think what we can see with the situation with Mr. Pena is a of the follow-through, a through-line to what can happen when you have folks that are frankly radicalized by these notions that elections have been rigged. Of course, complete lies.
But furthermore are encouraged by the folks that they identify with in the rhetoric of political violence. Not only are we talking on social media -- and by the way, Mr. Pena actually posted on social media earlier this year that I and some of my colleagues should be hung in the town square for alleged treason. So again, he was actively engaged in the rhetoric. And then we saw the result of postelection, him following through on these threats of political violence and actually taking shots and encouraging and masterminding a plot to take shots at people's actual homes. This is deeply concerning. The rhetoric is deeply concerning. It's not just about threats, it is about actions. I think the most important thing is we come together as a state in New Mexico and as a nation to condemn these threats and acts of political violence.