Race for next New Mexico GOP chair draws 2 familiar faces
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The race to be the next chairman of New Mexico’s Republican Party after historic defeats on Election Day is drawing at least two familiar faces.
The Albuquerque Journal reports outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Hobbs Republican, and businessman John Rockwell have announced they will seek the job.
The 71-year-old Pearce was defeated in the governor’s race by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who got about 57 percent of the votes cast in the contest. Rockwell, who is 67, unsuccessfully sought the position in 2012 and 2016.
In a statement, Pearce said he wasn’t ready to retire and said he would rebuild the Republican Party.
“I seek the chairmanship of the Republican Party of New Mexico not for the title, but instead for the opportunity to help create a new beginning for our party and a path to prosperity for our state,” Pearce said.
A campaign spokesman said later Tuesday that Pearce’s bid for party chair does not rule out a possible run for his old southern New Mexico congressional seat — the 2nd Congressional District — in 2020. Democrat Xochitl Torres Small won the seat after defeating state Rep. Yvette Herrell.
Under state GOP rules, a party chairman running for public office must vacate their party post only if another Republican has filed to run for the same seat.
Rockwell said he supported Pearce’s gubernatorial bid and described him as a good congressman.
But he also said Pearce has been closely aligned with current party leaders in recent years and would represent a status quo choice at a time when Republicans should be aiming to be more inclusive.
“We need change in this party,” Rockwell told the Journal. “We just had a disaster on our hands
The state GOP’s central committee will meet Dec. 8 in Albuquerque to pick a successor to Ryan Cangiolosi, who is not seeking re-election as party chairman.
The party chairman position is a volunteer post that oversees staffers, coordinates fundraising and messaging efforts and helps identify potential candidates.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com