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Republican candidates rally supporters ahead of election

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From the left Republican candidate for state Rep. Phelps Anderson and incumbent state Reps. Greg Nibert and Candy Spence Ezzell each sit at a table as they prepare to speak Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Chaves County Republican Federated Women at the Elks Lodge. All three will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 elections. (Alex Ross Photo)

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With Election Day less than three weeks away, Republican candidates at Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Chaves County Republican Federated Women urged their supporters to get out and vote.

Contests for governor, U.S. Senate, a closely watched race in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District — which includes Roswell as well as a series of local races — will be on the ballot.

Greg Nibert, who represents New Mexico House District 59, said listening to predictions about how this year’s election can make Republicans feel discouraged.

Nibert said early forecasts indicate it is unlikely Republicans will reclaim the majority in the New Mexico House and that Democrats will likely expand their current six-seat majority.

“It looks like we might lose a few seats in districts that are close but have been trending Democrat in the Albuquerque area,” he said.

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Democrats also control the New Mexico Senate, whose members do not stand for re-election this year.

Nonetheless, he said, Republicans have a good slate of candidates and voters in Chaves County — long a stronghold for the party — come out in force.

“We have to reach down, we have to have more zeal, more enthusiasm and more excitement for this election season than maybe any time in the past,” he said.

Two incumbent state representatives and a Representative-elect — all Republicans — were allotted time to speak during the meeting.

Nibert, an attorney and former Chaves County Commissioner, is fending off a challenge from Libertarian Martin Sweeney as he runs for re-election to his District 59 seat.

The district consists of much of western Roswell and a large portion of Lincoln County.

Nibert said he was humbled to have been elected in 2016 to represent the district and thinks he has done a pretty good job.

He said he would like to think he has brought expertise in several areas to the Legislature, including the oil and gas industry and interacting with federal agencies.

Nibert added he believes there have been too many efforts to remove God from the public arena and that he wants to curb the growth of government.

“I believe my first job is to make sure that our liberty is protected and that government does not continue to erode the liberties that we enjoy today,” he said.

Longtime state Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell is unchallenged in her bid for re-election in House District 58, which includes southern Roswell. She was first elected to the seat in 2004.

Ezzell, a rancher and the wife of Chaves County Commissioner Calder Ezzell, has lived in the county since she was a child.

She told the audience that some of her fondest memories come from her time attending Cottonwood Elementary School.

“We were first through sixth grade out there, and it was nothing but a farming community,” she said.

Ezzell said before people vote this year, they need to learn about the candidates and their stances on the issues.

“Read all about them, know all the information about them,” she said.

Ezzell though said people know where she stands.

“I don’t sit on the fence, and I do represent all of New Mexico to the best of my ability,” she said. “It’s not just my district but all of New Mexico.”

Ezzell said she is appalled by the rancor in the current political climate, where protesters often confront lawmakers and candidates they disagree with. She referenced an incident last month when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife, were driven out of a restaurant by protesters who confronted him about his support for the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Some people think they have the right to be rude to a candidate, and you know what? That is not the way we have been made,” Ezzell said.

“I want to show other people the same respect as I expect them to show me,” she added.

Phelps Anderson served decades ago in the New Mexico House where he represented House District 58. This year Anderson is poised to make a return to Santa Fe as he is running unopposed to the open House District 66 seat. The seat encompasses parts of Roosevelt, Lea and Chaves counties.

State Rep. Bob Wooley, Republican from Roswell, opted not to seek re-election to the seat.

Anderson said he looks forward to joining Nibert and Spence-Ezzell in the House.

He said the state is already projected to have as much as $2 billion in extra money, in large part due to the surge in oil production in southeastern New Mexico.

Anderson said he hopes Republican Steve Pearce wins the upcoming race for governor. He added he hopes the Legislature will pass and if elected, Pearce will sign legislation to make New Mexico a “right-to-work” state.

Right-to-work legislation limits the power of unions to require employees to join a union or pay regular union dues as a condition of employment.

Anderson said many states surrounding New Mexico are all right-to-work states. He said to him it is an issue about basic freedom for workers.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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