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Dow looks to make leap from House to governor’s office

State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

For six years she has represented southwest New Mexico in the Legislature, now she hopes to become the state’s next governor.

A self-described “mission driven” conservative from Truth or Consequences and the third-highest ranking Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives, Rebecca Dow declared her intention in July to seek the party’s nomination in next year’s race for governor.

In a recent interview with the Roswell Daily Record, Dow said her bid is fueled by a desire to reform New Mexico’s government.

“We have every resource that our neighboring state Texas has and more. We have the climate, the beauty and the everything to attract retirees just like our neighboring state Arizona has. What’s different about New Mexico is our government and how our state is run,” she said.

A consultant to early child care providers and founder of four non-profits, Dow, 48, is one of seven Republicans vying to be the nominee to take on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.

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The others are: business owner Karen Bedonie; retired teacher Tim Walsh; Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block; financial advisor Greg Zanetti; business owner Louie Sanchez and Ethel Maharg, former mayor of Cuba, New Mexico.

Dow said her resume in business and record representing a House district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans make her the strongest general election candidate.

“Nationally women Republicans are winning and they typically have a work history, executive history, work like I have,” Dow said.

Born in Oklahoma, Dow moved to Truth or Consequences with her family when she was in the fifth grade. She has a bachelor’s degree in businesses management from Oral Roberts University and an associate degree in early childhood from Tulsa Community College. She has a husband and two adult children.

Dow said she became involved in public policy when she encountered the thicket of state regulations while opening a daycare center.

“I mean it took us two years to open a daycare center in a community that had nothing,” she said.

Dow served as policy chair of the New Mexico Child Care and Education Association. It was a comment by a friend that prompted her to run for the Legislature in House District 38, which includes Grant, Hidalgo and Sierra counties.

“I had a friend who said ‘Well you can always go up to Santa Fe and have your three minutes of public comment, but if you are elected you have a vote, so that is when I decided to run,” she said.

Dow’s positions largely align with her party’s conservative base. She is an opponent of abortion rights, who has voted against gun safety bills as well as pieces of legislation to hike the state’s minimum wage and to require that employers provide workers with paid sick leave.

Dow is known for pushing to reform the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and introducing legislation to eliminate the state’s tax on Social Security income. She was also one of multiple lawmakers who backed the establishment of the New Mexico Citizens Redistricting Committee.

Lujan Grisham’s time in office has not improved New Mexico, Dow said.

“I think our state wants our children and families to be safe and our businesses to thrive. And we’re seeing the opposite from this governor,” she said.

Dow is a critic of Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. She opposes the state’s mandate that schools students be masked and that hospital workers and employees in congregate settings be fully vaccinated.

“It is not the government’s job to mandate,” Dow said.

Though Lujan Grisham has said the public health orders saved lives and prevented the state’s hospital system from being overrun, Dow calls the measures “super extreme.”

Lujan Grisham, Dow said, concentrated too much on the virus itself, while ignoring the impact her orders have had on businesses, education, substance abuse and mental health.

Dow said COVID-19 effects will remain a part of society for quite some time.

“This virus is here to stay. It is not going anywhere, so we are going to have to learn (to live) with it in a way that doesn’t kill jobs and doesn’t prevent children from learning,” Dow said.

Regarding the economy, Dow said she wants to improve the state’s business climate by paring back regulations, overhauling the state’s tax code and requiring state boards and commissions to revise rules and regulations based on feedback from industry.

She said the state must also invest in the assets it does have, such as its state parks, to draw tourists, possible residents and entrepreneurs.

The function of government, she said, is to create a strong business climate.

“So we just create the environment and let other people innovate,” she said.

Dow last month joined with the other leading House Republicans who have called for Lujan Grisham to call a special session to deal with crime.

The state, Dow said, needs to revisit the constitutional amendment voters passed in 2016 that did away with cash bond and limited when a person can be held without bond.

She and other critics have said the changes have created a catch-and-release program.

“That bond reform isn’t what any citizen thought it would be,” she said.

Additionally, Dow said, police and local officials come to legislators with ideas about what is needed to fight crime.

“We just need leadership that can work in a bipartisan way to get those to the governor’s desk,” she said.

Dow said she thinks there needs to be a voter ID law in New Mexico, despite how rare the prosecutions are for in-person voter fraud.

“There’s not a business or a policy in a state or government policy handbook that I have ever seen that doesn’t have policies put in place to prevent fraud, theft, harm to others. So the idea that it exists everywhere, accept in the polling booth … it just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Mail-in voting is something Dow supports but said a person should have to request a ballot and be a registered voter. She added that a person should also have to show an ID when they register to vote and that local officials should have a way to verify that the ballot goes to the person who requested it.

Even if elected governor, Dow will at the very least still have to deal with a Democrat-controlled Senate. Dow acknowledges that it will be tough, but says she is friends with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“There are some things we are never going to agree on, abortion, border security, election integrity, things like that. But for the most part, the work that really needs to get done to improve the lives of everyday New Mexicans should get bipartisan support,” she said.

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

To keep up with coverage of this and other elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

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