FARMINGTON — Two candidates are working for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in the November general election.
Senate hopeful Allan Weh met with The Daily Times last Thursday and outlined some of the stands that characterize his candidacy for U.S. Senate.
Weh's opponent is David Clements, a 33-year-old assistant district attorney for Dona Ana County who served as that county's Republican Party chairman.
"I love this country," Weh said, explaining why he desires a seat in a Congress that has an approval rate in the single digits.
Weh — a 71-year-old retired colonel in the U.S. Marines Corps reserves — has served on numerous American missions since his two tours in Vietnam. He is the chief executive officer at CSI Aviation Inc., and a former candidate for New Mexico governor.
He's seeking the GOP nomination and last week provided his ideas on some issues facing San Juan County.
Weh said he wants to grow the New Mexico economy.
"One of the things, my concern is for the economic growth of this state," he said, adding that he would seek incentives to make New Mexico more attractive for manufacturing jobs and other businesses.
"I would be very actively engaged with economic development activities on behalf of our state," he noted.
But he added that he would seek "claw back provisions" to penalize companies that opted to leave the state before contract obligations were met.
Nationally, he said the Affordable Health Care Act needs to be reformed and he supports finding new ways to develop coal-fueled power with modern technologies.
In terms of fracking, he said he is for regulations to protect people and aspects of the environment, but sees the technology as "proven." The regulatory entities should be based in local areas too, he said.
"Everybody likes clean water, even me and I'm a Republican. I like clean air too," he noted.
But he said President Barack Obama's new regulations restricting emissions at coal-fired power plants are hurting the Four Corners Power Plant and San Juan Generating Station, which will mean the loss of jobs many of which are held by Navajo tribal members.
"They (the Navajo tribe) voted for Obama and he shoved it right up their rear end and then he shut them (power plant generators) down," he said.
In terms of working with American Indian tribes, Weh said he would like to meet with each tribe to understand their needs because he respects their sovereign status.
Clements describes himself as a constitutional conservative and says his approach is based in a "constitutional form of government."
"I don't recognize my country anymore from the stand points of liberties," Clements said in a phone interview.
He wants to see the Environmental Protection Agency abolished.
"I start with the Constitution," he said, noting that the document outlines 18 functions of the federal government and forming policies for "the environment is not one of them."
He says environmental regulations should come from local and state levels that recognize and take into consideration the rights of private property owners.
Clements also plans to bring manufacturing to New Mexico and would start with helping businesses by building capital, creating more equality for federal subsidies, simplifying tax codes and turning federal land into private property.
As for relations with American Indian tribes, he said he would like to empower tribes.
"I don't think we promote at the federal level a culture of tribal sovereignty," he said. "They could have brighter days. Let them make the decisions."
Clements said he plans to attend the Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference scheduled to start in the first week of May.
"I think I can be an asset to the state of New Mexico," he said.
Primaries for the Republican party are scheduled for June 3.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.