Pearce considers jump from Congress to run for governor
Farmington was his first stop on an 11-county listening tour of the state this week.
FARMINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is still weighing his options regarding how to serve the state of New Mexico in the future, including a possible run for governor.
Pearce, R-New Mexico, spoke to local leaders and San Juan County residents during a private meeting this morning at Piñon Hills Community Church in Farmington.
He said he did not discuss running for governor during the meeting, but he acknowledged his name is circulating in discussions regarding the gubernatorial 2018 election. Governor Susana Martinez' second term ends in January 2019. Term limits prohibit her from a third term.
"I'm not unaware that people are asking that question. I always said, we need to get the 100 days behind us before we start thinking," Pearce said referring to President Trump's first 100 days in office.
Pearce's chief of staff, Todd Willens, said Pearce is discussing how he plans to serve the state the best, whether as the U.S Representative for the second district of New Mexico or as a candidate for governor.
"I fully expect him using the next couple of months to decide and let people know what he has done," Willens said in a telephone interview. "It's not a question of serving the public but how we will serve the public."
Today's meeting was Pearce's first stop in an 11-county tour of the state this week. It will include stops in Rio Arriba, Taos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties.
City and county leaders including Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts, Bloomfield Police Chief Randy Foster and San Juan County commissioners met with Pearce for nearly two hours.
Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein said it was nice to have Pearce visit the area and listen to the concerns of San Juan County residents.
"He's aware of the conditions of the economy," Eckstein said. "He wants to help."
Pearce said the tour is his attempt to reach across party lines to get New Mexicans to work together and make a difference.
"The bipartisan work is something people are hungry for. They are tired of the partisan grid-lock," Pearce said.
Some of the concerns Pearce heard during today's meeting were related to the state's economy and budget, quality of education, and environmental regulations impacting the operation of San Juan Generating Station.
"To watch what has been happening to the state, it just hurts my soul," Pearce said. "I've been in office long enough to know where all the pitfalls lie and what we can do to just change the trajectory that we are on."
He added the regulatory and tax climate in the state is not accommodating to businesses.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.