When The Santa Fe New Mexican published a front page story last summer about the "back-to-basics group" supposedly storming city politics, the narrative was pre-packaged: A populist revolt of common folk uniting to threaten the liberal establishment.
Now, less than 40 days before city elections, the group that was supposed to offer "a slate of candidates" is still mostly known just for offensive internet posts (there was also the guy who showed up strapped with a gun to a city council meeting). And it has recently emitted more bile with many posts on Twitter, piggybacking off President Trump's remarks about "shithole" countries.
The account's first Tweet is from Jan. 18. It's littered with ALL-CAPS posts mostly complaining about undocumented immigrants.
After reading the tweets, SFR reached out to city councilor and mayoral candidate Ron Trujillo, whom the Twitter handle @SantaFePower "fully supports." Trujillo formed common cause with self-proclaimed members of the group in opposing the sugary drink tax last year. He notably stayed in his chair after other council members got up and left following one of Mendoza's rants.
"It's unfortunate, you know—you have all these people that try to tie me to that," Trujillo told SFR. "I became the face of the [sugar tax opposition] because of the stance I took as the only city councilor to vote against it. That's the only thing that they try to tie me with."
Trujillo acknowledges that the social media account, which also professes support for District 4 city council candidate Greg Scargall and District 1 candidate Marie Campos, has the potential to harm his campaign, but considers it a distraction overall.
In response to the anti-immigrant tweets, Trujillo said, "We want everybody that comes here to Santa Fe to feel welcome. That's what's alluring about Santa Fe, that's what makes Santa Fe the City Different."
Scargall, for whom affordable housing is a major campaign issue, said he’d never heard of the group, and described himself as “someone that takes highly offensive language and remarks of other people pretty serious.” Campos did not return SFR’s calls.
@SantaFePower didn't respond to SFR's tweeted request to talk. When we reached out to the group Santa Fe's Voice over Facebook—formerly known as Santa Fe Power—the person managing the account told us the Twitter account was run by an impostor.
"This Twitter [profile] is not affiliated to us. It is a fake account," the person behind the Facebook account claimed. On immigration, the response to SFR was, "Immigration is a very touchy subject and we at SFV try to stay open minded in the subject" [sic].
The person behind the Facebook account, who would not reveal their name or the names of any of the group's moderators, then alleged in a public post that Laurie Ann Martinez, a person "affiliated with the original [Santa Fe Power] group," was behind the Twitter account.
"We are very upset that she would go to this extreme to discredit the SFV page," the group wrote.
Without the vocal support of anybody running in the March 6 citywide election, and with its legacy mostly consisting of crude and toxic social media posts, it doesn't seem like Santa Fe Voice/Power has much credibility to lose.
These days, though, it's clear you can't rule out the possibility of foul-mouthed Twitter addicts taking the reigns of power.