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GOP candidates: Where they stand

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By Carol A. Clark

Candidates running for Senate and Congress shared their views on the issues at the GOP’s local pre-primary convention Thursday evening at Trinity on the Hill Church. Each candidate spoke within a tightly controlled five-minute time frame.Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce are seeking the Senate seat held by Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who retires at the end of his term this year. Pearce represents District 2, which includes a majority of southern New Mexico. He won the coin toss and went first. “I believe a strong country is a secure country,” he said, pointing out three current challenges:• War on terror – Pearce said it must be won.• Economic struggle – He said places like China and India are trying to take American jobs “at an alarming rate” and must be stopped.• Cultural struggle – This involves “who we are in our hearts” meaning “were we stand on the marriage issue ... right to life (and) stem cell research.”“In all three struggles, failing in any one of them could lose us significant freedoms,” Pearce said.Serving his sixth year in Congress and living in Hobbs, Pearce described he and Wilson as friends and colleagues, but added they vote “very differently.” He told the audience that Americans for Tax Reform rated him 100 percent for voting against raising taxes and rated Wilson 73 percent. The National Right to Life Council, he said, rated him at 100 percent for his votes to preserve life to Wilson’s 42 percent. In their report-card measure of votes to eliminate wasteful government spending, Pearce said the Club for Growth rated him at 82 percent to Wilson’s 10 percent.Wilson disagreed with Pearce on her rating to preserve life, saying she is rated at 82 percent. “I am pro-life and believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman married for life,” she said. Pearce’s spokesman, Brian Phillips, explained that Pearce is speaking of Wilson’s rating during the last year, whereas Wilson is listing her rating during her lifetime in Congress.The number one thing he wants the people of Los Alamos to know, he said, is that he “supports the labs 100 percent,” and does not believe it necessary to change its mission.Wilson, representing District 1, has served 10 years in Congress and lives in Albuquerque. She describes herself as “a common-sense conservative who can win in November.”Wilson also speaks adamantly of her support for the labs. She told Thursday’s audience of some 70 GOP members that Pearce voted to cut $1.3 billion from DOE – “an 8 percent cut in the operating budget for a department that ensures the nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and reliable,” Wilson said. “That just doesn’t make any sense ... New Mexico needs a senator who will fight for the contributions the national labs and bases make to the nation’s security ... The work you do here is too critical to our country.”Wilson describes the American military as “the best equipped, best trained and most capable in the world.” Wilson, the only female veteran in Congress, spoke of her efforts fighting for new missions and facilities, which helped keep New Mexico’s three Air Force Bases open. Wilson told the audience she supports tax relief and tax simplification, adding she believes tax relief should be made permanent.Wilson and Pearce both touched on health care. Wilson wants to see New Mexicans have access to affordable, high quality health care where patients come first and believes the number of uninsured New Mexicans should be reduced using a combination of public and private sector solutions.Pearce calls for fundamental changes to America’s health care system in order to control rising costs. He opposes socialized medicine and wants to see families and individuals control their own health-care decisions.Pearce and Wilson held their first debate Tuesday in Alamogordo and each expressed interest Thursday in participating in a northern New Mexico debate held in Los Alamos and sponsored by the Monitor.All three of New Mexico’s U.S. House members, including Republicans Pearce, Wilson and Democrat Tom Udall, have filed for the Senate race with the Secretary of State’s office in Santa Fe.Congressional candidates Marco Gonzales, a Santa Fe attorney and former Domenici aide, and Rio Rancho contractor Daniel East have filed for the Republican nomination in the 3rd Congressional District, now represented by Udall.Gonzales and East each took five minutes to explain why they’re running and where they stand on the issues. In-depth interviews on each will appear in the Monitor soon.Before the audience broke into small groups, dictated by ward, to elect their delegates to the state convention, Los Alamos Republican Party Chair Ron Dolin reminded them that they’re on the same side. “We’re all Republicans,” Dolin said. “We all feel passionate about our candidates but we don’t want to let our passions spill over and pull us apart. Remember, we want a Republican to represent us.”GOP pre-primary conventions are being held in counties across the state this week. The pre-primary convention is held to elect delegates to the GOP state pre-primary convention. From Los Alamos, seven delegates will meet with counterparts from across the state March 15 in Albuquerque to vote on ballot position for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and federal offices, for the June 3 primary.For information, contact the Republican Party of New Mexico at 505-298-3662 or administrator@gopnm.org.