State, local, congressional and judicial candidates were on-hand Saturday to mark the opening of the Chaves County Republican Party campaign office.
People interacted with each other, ate ice cream, heard from candidates and took part in a pie auction during the event at the former Copy-Rite Printing and Copies at 210 N. Richardson Ave.
Caleb Grant, a city councilor and chair of the Chaves County Republican Party, said the space is “a couple thousand square feet” and will be used for campaign events, party functions, party meetings and a place to store campaign signs and materials.
He said each election season the party looks for a campaign office for three or four months.
“This one kind of caught our eye — obviously a good location and great building, so it worked out good,” Grant said as voters and candidates mingled.
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He added that the office will be staffed by volunteers and open evenings and a bit on weekends. Specific hours have not yet been decided.
Candidates also addressed the crowd, voicing a mix of enthusiasm and caution about the party’s chances come November.
Yvette Herrell, a Republican state representative running in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, said she thought the large turnout for the office opening was a good sign for the party in the upcoming elections.
“This does not look like a ‘blue wave,’” Herrell said, using a term commonly used to describe a good electoral environment for Democrats.
Herrell faces Democrat Xochi Torres-Small in the fall to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, that includes Roswell. Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce now represents the district.
Pearce has opted not to run for re-election and is instead a candidate for governor. He faces Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Herrell, who has been endorsed by Pearce, told the crowd she hopes to continue his work in Congress.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Herrell said. “We just have to build on what Congressman Pearce has already put into place.”
State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, who is up for re-election, said it is crucial the party’s base plus another 5 percent of the electorate show up on Election Day.
“Things could get very, very lonely in Sante Fe for Republicans if we don’t squeeze out an extra 5 percent, make sure the base gets out, plus get all these other people out voting,” Nibert said.
Nibert faces a challenge from Libertarian Carl Swinney in his bid for re-election to House District 59, which includes Chaves County.
Pearce told the crowd that when he decided to run for governor, many people sought to dissuade him from doing so. He said they told him it would be hard for him to compete in the more heavily Democratic northern parts of the state.
He said that in past elections for the U.S. House, he has won heavily Democratic counties within the 2nd Congressional District, which includes a large Hispanic population.
Pearce said that in the past 12 days he has campaigned in Democratic enclaves in the more northern part of the state, including the Navajo reservation where he has received a positive reception.
He also touted the endorsements of former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca and Dorothy Runnels, the widow of former U.S. Rep. Harold Runnels, both Democrats. Apodaca’s son Jeff lost the Democratic nomination to Grisham in the June primaries.
“They are both lifelong Democrats that I have known for much of my life and they are supportive because they know me,” Pearce said.
Though Pearce said that he thinks he will perform strongly in Democratic areas, he said that it is crucial that voters in solidly Republican Southeastern New Mexico cast their ballots in November.
“Every vote we get here is one less vote we have to count on up north,” he said.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.