Immigration and jobs led the conversation at Saturdays debate. Traditionally the Second District is held by a Republican. But Democrat Roxanne ‘Rocky’ Lara is working to change that and unseat incumbent Steve Pearce with a broader appeal to working class and Hispanic issues like a minimum wage increase and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“To make people choose between feeding their families or being deported to their home countries and not giving them some sort of fair, but tough path to become citizens is not right. It is not fair or who we are as a country of immigrants” she says.
Steve Pearce says he is not opposed to providing relief to the undocumented but says offering a pathway to citizenship would be going too far. He says it would provide an incentive for more people to come illegally.
“Pathway or whatever you call it, they all result in the same thing. I think a guest worker program that would allow to be here legally no fear of deportation. I think that could occur almost right now”
Besides immigration policy, abortion and the recent Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Monument designation were points of contention. Pearce is strongly anti-abortion while Lara supports abortion rights.
Lara also supported the Monument designation while Pearce preferred a much smaller Monument he proposed through legislation.But there was some common ground Pearce and Lara both acknowledged the need to better serve veterans, to work across party lines and to secure growth and employment in New Mexico. Though they don’t agree on how to do that.
Pearce says government should make investing and operating in New Mexico as attractive to businesses as possible.
“Its necessary for us to go and take those jobs back from China which have come The government many times stands in the way through regulations and taxes”
But Lara says Pearce isn’t doing enough to protect the jobs that are already in the state.
“I’ll tell you what is not creating jobs, what is not creating jobs is shutting down the federal government like congressman Pearce voted for last fall" she says
"Closing our national parks,putting federal employees on furlough and having uncertainty about their future and even threatening the lease that were coming through for the oil and gas industry” she says.
With a push for a pathway to citizenship and a hike in the minimum wage some might argue Lara’s platform is more in sync with the district, particularly the majority Hispanic population.
In the most recent funding period Lara has been able to win over donors, out raising Steve Pearce by more than $8,000.
Still Pearce has more than $1.3 million in cash on hand while Lara has just over $500,000.