Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Michelle Garcia Holmes and candidate for Secretary of State Gavin Clarkson introduced themselves to area voters Wednesday, rallying the party faithful while also speaking about their efforts to reach out to traditionally Democratic voters.
“We have a really good slate of candidates, but if we don’t get them elected, I really worry about what is going to happen to New Mexico,” Garcia Holmes said Wednesday while speaking at the monthly meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women.
Garcia Holmes is the running mate of Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce. The pair will face off against Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham and her running mate Howie Morales this November.
Her remarks came hours before Pearce and Lujan Grisham engaged in their first televised debate of the general election season.
Garcia Holmes said in order for her and Pearce to win in November, Republican voters need to cast their ballots, something that is not happening in some parts of the state — such as San Juan County, where she said only 29 percent of Republican voters turned out in the last election.
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“We’re not showing up to the polls folks,” she said.
She said she and Pearce are a clear contrast to their Democratic opponents.
“We have a clear fight on our hands and that is how we have to see it,” Garcia Holmes.
A former 20-year reserve officer with the Albuquerque Police Department, Garcia Holmes, 56, served as chief of staff to Gary King, former New Mexico attorney general during his eight years in office. She made her political debut last year with an unsuccessful bid to be Albuquerque mayor.
Garcia Holmes said her work on legislation to prevent human trafficking and helping launch New Mexico’s first state-wide unit to investigate government corruption were among her accomplishments from her time working for King.
“That is one of my passions. I do not like fraud, waste or abuse of taxpayer money,” she said.
Garcia Holmes, who describes herself as “pro-life, pro-second amendment and pro-America,” added that she is proud to be on the ticket with Pearce, a longtime Congressman, who she said is “a great man.”
Pearce’s military service and humble roots are similar to those of her own father, she said.
Last month when Pearce visited Roswell, he told area Republicans that in the race for governor he was stumping for votes in areas and among people that usually vote for Democrats, a message echoed by Garcia Holmes.
“I am not afraid to walk into a room full of Democrats and talk to them about New Mexico values, what we stand for,” she continued.
She said that in order to pull off a victory, appealing to Democrats is something she and Pearce must do, and are doing successfully.
“We’re getting those moderate conservative Democrats to cross over and vote for us,” she said.
Garcia Holmes said she and Pearce have spent a great deal of time on the Navajo Nation, where they have been “very, very well received.” The campaign has had a table set up on the Shiprock Flea Market on the reservation and have been applauded by tribal leaders.
Beyond the reservations, Garcia Holmes said the campaign has had a positive reception in other Democratic-friendly crowds, such as during the Santa Fe Fiesta parade.
Garcia Holmes said at the parade she distributed more Pearce signs than she has during parades in more Republican-leaning counties.
Republican candidate for New Mexico Secretary of State Gavin Clarkson, also at the event, said he too is looking to reach out to Democrats. Clarkson is will square off against incumbent Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, this Fall.
Clarkson, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, said he has visited reservations across the state and will soon address the Pueblo Board of governors. His campaign is also preparing to release Spanish language radio ads.
“We are going to take this to places they are not expecting, and we are going to do this in ways they are not expecting us to do,” he said.
Clarkson, a professor on leave from New Mexico State University, is a former deputy assistant secretary of Policy and Economic Development at the U.S. Department of Interior. Earlier this year he unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primary in the New Mexico 2nd Congressional District, which includes Roswell.
Clarkson was nominated by the party in July after Republican Johanna Cox dropped out of the race.
Clarkson said after Cox exited the race, people called him asking him to enter the race. He then asked those people, if as secretary of state he would be able to create jobs.
“And the answer is yes,” he said.
Clarkson said while most people assume the New Mexico Secretary of State is “just a county clerk on steroids” the office has since 2013 also managed the Corporations Bureau within the office.
He also praised a New Mexico Supreme Court decision last week that struck down a straight party voting option that would have allowed voters to vote for all the candidates in one party.
Clarkson, who said he helped write the amicus brief in the case, called the verdict a “judicial smackdown.”
He said that there is no basis in state law that would have allowed Toulouse Oliver to issue a decision on straight party voting.
A press release issued by the Secretary of State’s office announcing the option said, “New Mexico law gives the Secretary of State the explicit authority to decide the format of the paper ballots used in our elections. Specifically, state law provides that ballots will be ‘in the form prescribed by the secretary of state.”
Heather Brewer, campaign manager for Toluse Oliver’s campaign, said at the time Toluse Oliver issued the order about the option there was some ambiguity as to whether the Secretary of State’s office or the legislature that must approve straight ticket voting.
She said the state Supreme Court decision settled that question.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.