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Pearce makes final appeal to Roswell voters

Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce speaks to a crowd Wednesday at the Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce was in Roswell Wednesday, where he told voters that the outcome of his race and other down-ticket contests are in their hands.

“It’s up to you to vote,” Pearce said during a campaign event at Los Cerritos Restaurant, one of many stops Pearce is making across the state before Tuesday’s election. The trip is the second he has made to the city in less than a week. He and other candidates were in Roswell Friday for a rally with Vice President Mike Pence.

Pearce, a longtime U.S. Representative in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, faces Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham in the state’s closely watched race for governor.

In his remarks to the crowd Wednesday, Pearce said he is depending on high turnout in reliably Republican Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties to win the race.

He said that he is doing well in less-Republican counties and even on the typically Democratic Navajo Nation Reservation, but he needs a high voter turnout in the southeastern part of the state.

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The race will likely come down to about a 10,000 vote difference between he and Lujan Grisham, he said.

Polls have shown Lujan Grisham, a U.S. Representative from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District ahead, but Pearce said that from the beginning, many predicted he did not have a chance in the race for governor, and he has exceeded their expectations.

He added that if elected, he wants to grow and diversify New Mexico’s economy.

The Roswell International Air Center has the potential to make Roswell a center for aviation maintenance in the U.S., if not the world.

Pearce said he also wants to expand the availability of apprenticeships for students who opt not to go to college. He said right now, only one in four high school students go on to graduate from college and they need to know they have a pathway to opportunity.

“When we tell our kids that they have a pathway to success, we are ruining their futures because they believe what they are told,” he said.

Pearce added that for New Mexico to succeed, the issue of crime within the state must also be dealt with.

He said that on day one of a Pearce administration, he wants to establish a task force that will include members of the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, New Mexico State Police and local law enforcement to tackle the state’s crime problem.

The task force would be led by his running mate Michelle Garcia Holmes, who is a 20-year veteran of the Albuquerque Police force and also served eight years as chief of staff in the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.

“We are going to put the brakes on the things that are making people feel like they just can’t get ahead here,” Pearce said.

He added that he believes the ideological makeup of the New Mexico Supreme Court is also a sleeper issue in the election.

Two Republicans now sit on the court and Pearce said the next governor will be tasked with appointing two more. He said that could mean the court could have four out of five justices who espouse a conservative view.

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