By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Heather Wilson made her first campaign stops in eastern New Mexico on Monday with “listening sessions” in Portales and Tucumcari.
“I’m used to running tough races,” said Wilson, while introducing herself to the crowd and referring to her close races for Congress.
She said after her close win for U.S. representative in 2006, President Bush tagged her with the nickname “Landslide.”
“I pointed out to him that I received 17,000 more votes in my district than he did,” Wilson said. “That was the last time he called me “Landslide.”
Wilson is seeking the seat being vacated by Republican Pete Domenici, who is retiring for health reasons.
She said she was prepared for a tough campaign and told those who attended the meeting at the Rough Rider Room in Portales that it was her goal to see the Republican party grow in New Mexico.
“I’m most concerned about immigration, taxes and Second Amendment Rights,” Portales resident Cecil Clotfelter said.
On taxes, Wilson said her philosophy includs keeping taxes as low as possible and letting free enterprise work. She warned that there were problems on the horizon that could send taxes soaring.
“Every single piece of tax relief we passed in 2001 to 2003 is soon to expire,” Wilson said. “That worries me greatly.”
She said she doesn’t support an amnesty program as far as the immigration issue. She also said that fences and security devices alone aren’t the answer.
“We can go down to El Paso and see where they cut the fence last night,” Wilson said. “It’s not about barriers.”
She said streamlining and improving the system for legal immigration and better tracking of those on visas was an important part of the solution.
Wilson said the greatest accomplishment for Washington in the last six years is what has not happened — another terrorist attack — and she said that is no mistake. She said the U.S. hasn’t been attacked because we’ve gone on the offensive and been proactive in stopping new terrorism.
The congresswoman said the national energy policy needs to be balanced over the long-term and should involve multiple efforts. She said she favors more oil and gas exploration at home, which should be coupled with conservation. She also noted that alternative energy sources such as hydrogen for vehicles and nuclear power will have to be a part of the mix.
Wilson stumbled slightly when asked about the Ute Water Project, which proposes to bring water to Curry and Roosevelt counties through a pipeline. At first she assumed the questioner was asking about water rights for a development on the shores of Ute Lake. She corrected herself and admitted she wasn’t too familiar with the status of the project.
When asked about the loss of jobs at Los Alamos National Labs and other defense installations, Wilson said New Mexico provides a disproportionate contribution to the National Defense when compared by size to other states.
“We need a U.S. Senator who will understand the contribution New Mexico makes and who will stand up and protect it,” Wilson said. “I won’t stop fighting for those jobs.”