Solomon Pena, a failed Republican candidate for New Mexico’s state House, was arrested Monday in connection with a string of shootings that damaged the homes of Democratic officials in the state.
Though no one was injured in the shootings, The Associated Press reported that several bullets "passed through the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter."
Pena unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democratic state Rep. Miguel Garcia last year, losing by nearly 50 percentage points. As is typical for Republicans these days, he’s lobbed baseless claims of election fraud to explain away his defeat.
Since early December, New Mexico police have responded to four incidents of gunfire aimed at Democratic officials’ residences, including the homes of two county election officials. Police told CNN that Pena hired the shooters and even pulled the trigger of a handgun — which malfunctioned — during one of the shootings.
As of Tuesday morning, Pena had not commented on his arrest publicly. NBC News' efforts to reach him were not successful.
Per NBC News, a police spokesperson identified Pena as an “election denier” and said anger over his decisive election loss may have motivated the shootings.
But why not take the condemnation a step further?
After all, it can be argued Pena’s violent, election denialism was motivated by the state party that backed him. The New Mexico Republican Party has become overtly anti-democratic since then-President Donald Trump’s re-election loss in 2020. Multiple party officials have been linked to Trump’s scheme to certify fake Electoral College votes declaring him the winner in New Mexico. And the “news & press” page of the New Mexico GOP’s website documents the unhinged logic of a deluded, fascistic party. Although the New Mexico GOP published a post shortly after Jan. 6, 2021, denouncing the violence Trump supporters waged in the Capitol, several posts published before and after then adopted the conservative movement’s extreme rhetoric meant to undermine the legitimacy of elections won by Democrats.
The party's crusade included posts baselessly alleging “voting irregularities” meant Trump had truly won New Mexico; a post openly touting the fake elector scheme; a post accusing New Mexico’s secretary of state of allowing drop boxes to be filled with “invalid” votes”; a post parroting Trump’s false claims of fraudulent voter machines, and even a post-Jan. 6 statement endorsing a push to decertify Joe Biden’s election victory.
The New Mexico GOP’s stance on elections is apparently that they’re suspicious — even criminal — if Republicans don’t win. And the national GOP has suggested they view violence as a form of legitimate political discourse. And armed GOP lawmakers have literally issued violent threats to Democrats in their political ads.
Given all that, no one should feign surprise that right-wing extremists like Pena are taking up arms, willing to follow and act on oppressive lies spun by the Republican Party.
There are no lone wolves when it comes to right-wing violence. Just sheep.