Sunday, September 28, 2008

Politics: Steve Pearce Interview

The story below is my column that runs in eight newspapers around the state. They are in Farmington, Gallup, Espanola, Raton, Hobbs, Artesia, Roswell and the Defensor Chieftain in Socorro. The papers are given a two-week window to print the column. For this column, the window closes tomorrow. The next column will speculate about why Rep. Udall said no thanks to the interview structure that was planned. I'll post that column in two weeks. The subscribing papers, who pay a little for the column, get first shot. I'll also post the email correspondence with the Udall campaign. That correspondence provides detail for which I lacked in the coming column. Note that, as I see it, the campaign is the candidate and the candidate is the campaign.

Thanks to Mark Bralley for the photo of your truly and Steve Pearce. -HM

Harold Morgan/New Mexico Progress

Pearce discusses his positions

By Harold Morgan
New Mexico Progress

The plan was to interview Reps. Tom Udall and Steve Pearce, candidates for the U.S. Senate, and report in separate columns. The rules: Same three questions, no topic briefing, spontaneous responses transcribed without comment. Because the Udall campaign required topic briefing, there is no Udall interview.
Rep. Steve Pearce and I spoke by phone Sept. 10. The complete questions are posted at
1. Why are you running?
When Pearce ran for state representative in 1996, he was “convinced that the country was changing dramatically for the worse, and rather than just sit in Hobbs and complain, I decided that I would run for public office and try to do something about it.”
The choice was to “either be quiet or be active.”
“I realized that the real significant battles were in Washington.” So in 2000 Pearce ran for the Senate. Had he won the primary, the general election opponent would have been incumbent Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Then fate intervened. Rep Joe Skeen retired and Pearce was elected to the U.S. House. A year ago, fate came again with the retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici.
“The Senate is ultimately the spot where small states are protected. Small states and the small state ideas are protected because, in the Senate, the small states have exactly the same power as the big states. The second thing is that in the Senate, one voice can stop any piece of legislation or any policy, and it takes 60 votes to overcome that one voice. So, in the political context of policy and stopping shifts, the Senate is ultimately important.”
Pearce’s House seat was relatively safe. “The idea that we’re in a relatively safe seat had almost no bearing in the decision; what had a bearing is that I feel the country is in danger from internal slide. If I think that the Senate is the place where the real potential to stop the slide is, then I am morally obligated to run for the seat....
“One of the ways I explain it to people is that I’d like my children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities that I’ve had, and I could see those opportunities slipping away.”
2. Critical challenges and actions:
“Well, the challenges are economic… We have to understand that if we don’t work hard to hold our economy together, our standard of living will shift dramatically. The second (challenge) would be the breakdown of the American family: it gives us less cohesion as a nation, less cohesion obviously as families, but less cohesion as a nation to address, then, the significant problems that we are facing….”
Actions start with “lower taxes, cut(ting) the wasteful spending. Then in the family, the thing that we’ve tried most in the House to do is bring good, strong jobs into the Second District; we’d do the same thing (statewide) in the Senate.”
Pearce remains “an entrepreneur, constantly looking for opportunities.” He cites the nuclear enrichment facility in Eunice and projects in Portales, Clovis and the Truth or Consequences area that will keep people in New Mexico, “where they grew up,” and strengthen families.
3. The public sector or the private sector to solve problems:
“I’m strongly inclined to private solutions. If we consider health care, for instance, the great debate is should the government provide healthcare…. My general point is the government can’t provide more doctors and nurses; all it can do is limit your demand… by saying that you can’t see the doctor for six months, or eight months.
“But then we need to acknowledge there are problems with the private system, and that there are a whole series of things that can be done – just on health care alone – and should be done to improve the private sector. But at no time do I believe that, even with our problems, that we’d be better with a government healthcare system.”

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