Republican candidates for the state's top job got heated over the issue fortifying right-wing politicians nationwide: immigration.
On Thursday, May 20, they spoke to more than 100 people at the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) hall in Albuquerque. The event was invitation-only, and most people in the crowd were business owners within the city’s development community.
The candidates for governor were each given 10 minutes to tell the audience why they would be the best nominee for the party. A question about immigration drew the strongest responses from the candidates. All five said they would fight illegal immigration, but none went so far as to say they would propose a law similar to Arizona's controversial SB 1070.
Here is what each candidate said on the subject:
Susana Martinez: “I feel strongly that we have to maintain security on the border. In Doña Ana County, if you committed a crime and are being arrested for that crime, law enforcement is authorized to ask for identification and documentation, and I fully support that process.”
Allen Weh: “Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature did a great service to the United States. If the Legislature in Santa Fe passed a similar law, I would sign it, but I wouldn't push for it. ... I would remove the sanctuary policies that currently exist, and we'll enforce the law. We will enforce every New Mexico law.”
Pete Domenici Jr.: “We need to stop having sanctuaries. We need consistent law enforcement policy throughout the state, where if people are arrested, their immigration or legal status is questioned in a dignified and legal standardized process. We need a state law, similar to Arizona, to do that.”
Janice Arnold-Jones: “We cannot sustain the state of New Mexico or revitalize our economy if we don't secure our borders. ... People who come here from another a country must be respectful of the law, and we'll hold them accountable. And if the federal government doesn't like it, come get me. I'm going to stand here and uphold the law.”
Doug Turner: “What Arizona has done and what New Mexico needs to do is to hold the federal government to the fire. We have technology in this country to do the job. If we can get a terrorist in Afghanistan from a predator drone controlled by a guy in a trailer in Nevada, I promise you we have the technology to find people coming into this country and stop them from getting here.”
The forum was sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. of New Mexico. The association is a construction industry advocate that promotes "merit shops," companies and businesses that try to succeed on merit, not on whether they belong to a union, said Roberta Chavez, an ABC representative and the facilitator for the debate.
The gubernatorial candidates were also asked about their experience in the private sector and the issue of out-of-state contractors poaching bids from locals. Each candidate said they know how to balance a budget. They also agreed that companies outside of New Mexico should not be allowed to compete for contracts that are supposed to stay in the state. They each promised they would fight corruption and cut government waste.
Weh and Turner said they were not susceptible to the scandals that follow career politicians because this is their first race. Both vowed to not run for any other elected positions. District Attorney Martinez and Rep. Arnold-Jones argued their record in public office was a sign of good decision-making. Pete Domenici Jr. said his experience as a lawyer gives him knowledge about how the legislative process works.
Candidates for lieutenant governor were not asked any questions. However, state Rep. Kent Cravens and business owner John Sanchez gave short stump speeches to the crowd. The third candidate, Brian Moore, did not attend.
On Thursday, May 27, the Republican candidates for governor will face off in a live debate at the University of New Mexico’s Rodey Hall. The debate starts at 7 p.m. and will air on KOB Channel 4 and 770 AM KKOB. Contact a campaign or the Rio Grande Foundation, the event’s sponsor, to see if tickets are still available.
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is without a Democratic opponent for governor in the June 1 primary. Here’s what she’s said on the those hot-button issues:
Immigration: Denish opposes Arizona’s SB 1070, which asks the state’s law enforcement to check on the immigration status of citizens. Instead, she says she’s worked with federal security agents and others to beef up our southern border.
Ethics: With the state Legislature, she created oversight of the Regional Housing Authorities. A subsequent audit uncovered misspending.
Business: Like her Republican counterparts, she also advocates giving New Mexico companies preference when awarding state contracts. Her plan for job creation centers on small businesses and rural employment.
Pete Domenici Jr.
Matthew D. Rush
Jerry Ortiz y Pino
Manuel Gonzales III
Marie Sisi Miranda