Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Top state Republican officials and candidates rolled into Roswell Tuesday on a gigantic pink bus and with a simple message: President Donald Trump can carry New Mexico this November.
“You are going to hear that reoccurring theme: that he is going to win New Mexico,” Steve Pearce, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, told an enthusiastic audience gathered in the local Republican Party’s West Second Street office.
Pearce, along with Yvette Herrell — the Republican hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District — and Lea County Commissioner Rebecca Long were in Roswell for the second day of a three-day Women for Trump bus tour.
Acting as surrogates, the three Republicans, along with other party activists and candidates, traveled to communities throughout southern and central New Mexico in a bus supplied by the Trump campaign to highlight their support for the re-election of the 45th president and rally conservative voters.
During the gathering in Roswell, people greeted the three visitors and conversed with one another while brandishing Trump campaign placards and interrupting featured speakers with sporadic applause.
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The visit came as a recent Albuquerque Journal poll shows Trump trailing Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden by 15 points in New Mexico.
Pearce, standing in front of a cluster of American flags and a cardboard cut-out of a smiling Trump, told the audience the state’s five electoral votes are still up for grabs and that many voters remain undecided.
“Labor Day is when people really start looking,” he said. “Don’t let this thing slip from us in the last 60 days.”
Despite Trump losing the state by eight points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Trump campaign has openly mused about their desire to win the state this year.
Pearce pointed to the campaign bus he arrived in as proof that winning the state is more than just talk for Trump. The bus, he told the audience, has only been sent to a handful of states the campaign is actively competing in.
He added that the campaign also has 50 full-time campaign employees in the state, while volunteers have made 1.3 million calls to New Mexico voters and knocked on 3,000 doors.
Speaking to the crowd, Pearce painted Trump as a leader who has worked tenaciously to keep his core promises made on the campaign trail years ago.
“When he says I am going to take care of the oil fields in Lea and Eddy and Chaves and San Juan (counties), understand that he means it and is fighting to the death for it,” Pearce said.
He pointed to the public health orders issued by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other governors as an example of how Pearce said small businesses would be hampered and the economy would be stagnated under a Biden administration.
Lujan Grisham enacted various restrictions on business operations and public gatherings in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Lujan Grisham and public health officials have said such measures have saved lives and many of the restrictions have since been loosened.
Pearce and critics though argue the orders have heavily burdened small businesses and forced many to close their doors, while large retailers have continued to operate.
He also pointed to Biden’s past support for a ban on hydraulic fracking, something which Pearce said would be a disaster for workers and for the state’s budget, which is heavily reliant on oil and gas revenue.
“You want to take away 40% of teacher pay in the state of New Mexico, just shut down the oil and gas industry and find out what it is about,” he said.
Herrell, who is in the much-watched race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, said that the future of the country and conservative values will be on the ballot.
New Mexico 2nd Congressional District
Two years ago, Herrell was defeated by Torres Small by several thousand votes in the district, which Trump had won by 10 points in 2016.
Though she has struck a more moderate tone in her recent campaign ads, Herrell at the Roswell event painted herself as an unapologetic supporter of Trump.
She also took a swipe at Torres Small for ads in which she has emphasized her record of bipartisanship.
“I don’t have to put ads on TV saying I support President Trump because I already do,” she said.
Herrell criticized Torres Small’s stances on issues ranging from gun rights to abortion rights, immigration, and border security.
She also accused Torres Small of voting for legislation that would allow future presidents to ban fracking.
When asked about Herrell’s claim, the Torres Small campaign referenced an Aug. 10 piece in the Albuquerque Journal.
The piece stated the vote was on a procedural motion calling for the U.S. House of Representatives to take up a nonbinding resolution expressing opposition to a possible fracking ban by future presidential administrations.
Torres Small voted with other Democrats against the procedural motion. As a result, the actual resolution was never voted on.
Sarah McCarthy, a campaign spokesperson, called the remarks by Herrell “patently false.”
“Rep. Torres Small has consistently stood up to her party and spoken out against a ban on fracking — and her record backs that up. It’s unfortunate that Yvette Herrell is peddling claims that have been independently debunked, continuing her pattern of being dishonest with voters,” McCarthy said.
Pearce predicted that should Trump prevail in New Mexico and win re-election, it would create a tidal wave that will carry Republicans in congressional, statewide, state legislative, countywide and judicial races to victory.
Such a development would be a dramatic reversal for the Republican Party following a disastrous 2018 midterm election, when the party’s candidates lost every congressional and statewide contest. That year, Democrats also increased their majority in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Pearce though insists that this year will be different. The combination of having Trump on the ballot and two years of Democrats having full control of state government has made Republicans more motivated than they were two years ago.
He added that many conservative former Democrats have joined Republicans after becoming disenchanted with the Democrats’ left-leaning policies.
He noted that out of 112 legislative races on the ballot this year, Republicans are fielding candidates in 101 of them, some in traditionally difficult Democratic districts.
Pearce added that is a big contrast to most election cycles when the party has candidates for about 67 seats.
Currently, Democrats hold a 46 to 24 majority in the House of Representatives and a 26-16 majority in the New Mexico Senate.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the Torres Small campaign’s response to Herrell’s assertion Torres Small had voted for legislation that would allow future presidents to ban fracking.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or firstname.lastname@example.org.