Pearce wants to return to constitutional ‘truth’


U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

‘People are looking for certainty in their lives,’ the congressman says, and, as he seeks re-election, Pearce says he is reaching across party lines to try to ‘bring widely divergent groups together’ to focus on policy and ‘the common good’ instead of politics.

“The truth doesn’t change across time,” says U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. “Major troubles occur when we don’t follow the Constitution.”

This was the congressman’s reply to my question about whether the United States needs another constitutional convention to update this important document. Although not spoken, his answer was a definite “no.”

Pearce believes strongly that the United States has taken a turn away from the intent of the U.S. Constitution. He wants to see a more literal use of it as a guide for government and the people. He cited Article 1, Section 8, which lays out the powers given to Congress.

Among those powers are still-relevant things such as the ability “to borrow money on the credit of the United States” and citations that involve the military and post offices. Perhaps less-relevant is the power to grant letters of marquee – a document that lets a nation hire mercenaries to retaliate for it against another nation.

As for a constitutional convention, Pearce simply doesn’t seem to believe one is necessary. All that’s necessary is a return to a more literal reading of the Constitution.

‘100 percent focused on the current job’

My 30-minute conversation with Pearce covered a lot of other areas, mostly in brief, and often he cited examples of the work he has done or is doing to help get the nation back on course.

Pearce, who faces a challenge from Democrat Evelyn Madrid Erhard this year, was first elected to the N.M. House of Representatives in 1996. A native of Hobbs, his background is in the oil business, where his father worked as a roustabout. Roustabouts are general maintenance or construction workers, and Pearce said he came from a working-class background.

“When I was in the oil business, I found that there were so many regulations that they were choking off the oil business,” Pearce said. “I could see that my kids and grandkids were not going to have the same benefits that I have had, and that is when I decided to run for state Legislature.”

Pearce said he quickly realized the state Legislature was not the place to try to change the laws and regulations he felt were inappropriate, so he began thinking about running for Congress.

“We were on a trip to France. My wife had just come back to our hotel. She spoke about Joe Skeen (former congressman) retiring due to illness, so we decided to run for that office,” Pearce said. “In 2002, I won a five-way primary and then started to try and work for change.”

Pearce is no longer in the oil tool business, and says he is “100 percent focused on the current job.”

It appears he will try and stay with that job for a while, and has no interest, at least at this time, in running for higher office, such as U.S. Senate, an office he sought unsuccessfully in 2008.

“I’m not thinking much beyond this election right now,” Pearce said. “It is one day at a time.”

Trying to ‘bring widely divergent groups together’

Pearce has received a lot of attention, good and bad, for his support of the Tea Party. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus, a group of about 60 representatives and senators whose group is “dedicated to promoting what it considers fiscal responsibility, adherence to the (Tea Party) movement’s interpretation of the Constitution and limited government.” Groups such as these are sometimes seen as a move by the Republican Party (all caucus members are Republicans) to hijack the Tea Party movement, according to an article in Politico.


And perhaps it is just coincidence, but the oil and gas industry has been financially supportive of those involved with this caucus, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Pearce said he believes Tea Party activists and their supporters share a lot of the same views held by everyone else. He mentioned his work with others in district besides Tea Party members.

“I’ve spent two years out speaking to a lot of other groups, all for the common good, about two strong points,” Pearce said. “The first is about retirees and how their money is disappearing, and the second is about young mothers who are worried about their kid’s futures. Things are getting much harder for them because of Washington’s politics.”

“One thing we’re trying to do is bring widely divergent groups together, and trying to be more rational. Not all of those we are working with are Republicans,” he said. “What’s going on is hard on both parties. We’re more interested in policy rather than party policies. People say that the two parties don’t work together, that we (Americans) elect people who look like us, and that we don’t sit down to talk to neighbors.”

Pearce said such thinking is inaccurate and perhaps myopic. He thinks it will change over time.

One of the other things Pearce feels might help bring Congress back together is a small group of representatives who meet quarterly.

“We’re reaching across party lines, doing things such as working on a new tax return bill and other objectives,” Pearce said. “It might be a model for the country, something that could really work.”

He continued – “We’re working across the aisle for immigration reform, looking for the best ideas for the country, and trying to prove that through our actions.”

When asked, Pearce noted Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano, a Democrat, as one of the first to get on board with the new group.

Economy, environment

My conversation with Pearce turned to the troubles at hand, most especially, of course, the economy and jobs. Over the last year or so, Pearce has sponsored several job fairs in towns around the district, something of which he said he is very proud.

'One thing we’re trying to do is bring widely divergent groups together, and trying to be more rational. Not all of those we are working with are Republicans. What’s going on is hard on both parties.' - Steve Pearce

‘One thing we’re trying to do is bring widely divergent groups together, and trying to be more rational. Not all of those we are working with are Republicans. What’s going on is hard on both parties.’ – Steve Pearce

“We’re trying to establish a working base, and the job fairs have jobs that are available that day. We keep hearing that there are no jobs available, and the truth is that there are some,” he said. “We’ll continue to do the job fairs, as they have been successful.”

Pearce has been seen by the left as one of the most environmentally unfriendly congressman in the country, but he seemed unfazed by this and noted his efforts to keep the dunes sagebrush lizard off the federal endangered species list, which put him at odds with many environmentalists.

Pearce said such protection for the lizard “would have killed jobs.” Keeping the lizard off the list was also supported by Democratic U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, who generally pride themselves on their environmental work and votes. About 90 percent of the lizard’s habitat does remain protected through other agreements.

Pearce also spoke of his participation in a widely publicized and mostly symbolic tree-cutting ceremony in Cloudcroft last fall, which some said was illegal but Pearce said was done to “restore commonsense forest management to New Mexico” and bring power back to local governments. Otero County commissioners said their efforts were to “show the world what an acre of forest land should look like.” The tree-cutting ceremony focused on the possible devastation of the area by wildfire.

Pearce, who has criticized the Forest Service lately for its handling of wildfires, said he wants to continue working with the agency to “make forests healthier.”

Still talking about issues related to the environment, Pearce said he attempts to work for alternative energy, not as main source of power, but as one to enhance the current sources — gas, oil and nuclear.

“We have 5 million acres in New Mexico that could be used for wind energy, but we still have to have oil and gas. We should be energy independent, but the regulations are shutting us off from that,” he said. “We need a commonsense balance, and we just need to start that right now.”

Taxes were another brief subject, with Pearce noting that the United States has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world. It’s 38 percent, and it’s actually the third highest behind Japan and Cameroon. When weighted, the U.S. figure falls to about 27 percent, which is on par with much of the rest of the world.

Still, Pearce said the corporate tax rate is one reason the United States loses jobs to other countries.

Taking a break

Although he has little time for himself, Pearce does take a break now and then and enjoys walking in the desert, traveling, reading and baseball.

“I read a lot when I shut off the phone,” he said.

Pearce is a member of the congressional baseball team, and he said he likes to help teach young people when he is at the batting cages.

Pearce laughs heartily when I note that there is a Major League Baseball player of the same name. Baseball Pearce had been batting .254 for the Baltimore Orioles but was released from that team. He now plays for the Houston Astros.

Congressman Pearce quipped – “He is probably getting more hits online than I do.”

‘People are looking for certainty in their lives’

Pearce said he is still not giving up on repealing “Obamacare” and is working to get a balanced budget amendment passed. Both remain on his to-do list if he wins re-election. He said he wants to provide some certainty in America.

“People are looking for certainty in their lives, Pearce said. “If they had more ‘certains’ about what was going to happen, it would surely improve things dramatically.”

Jeff Berg is a Santa Fe based freelance writer who would like to thank the people who donated to for making this article happen!

23 thoughts on “Pearce wants to return to constitutional ‘truth’

  1. It appears you and I could disagree on this all day, so no point in continuing. I have not idea who that guy was next to you, I have not seen him before.

    A friend of yours must live up the street from me…..they have foil on the windows !  Just kidding.  Even though we do not agree, it is good to know you seem to have a good sense of humor.  

  2.   I am NOT! a conspiracy theorist.  And no matter what you say I will not be taking my tinfoil protective hat off. The radio waves are everywhere.
       I’m glad to see you publicly posted that the ugly remark was inappropriate. I would hope in the future that any public speaking done by the gentleman does not contain those type references.  I’ll take you at your word that both posts are from the same author. As to your remark about having been to other meetings with the same alleged behavior I have only been to one county meeting and one city meeting.  In neither of the meetings did any disturbance occur nor was anyone I was around whisper loud enough to be distracting. Certainly there was no jumping up and shouting as happened at the Tea Party/Pearce event.  If you are dismayed or distracted or disturbed that attendees of public meetings turn to folks on either side to comment or question quietly you must not understand much of democracy, open meetings or civil discourse. I’ve yet to attend a public meeting where folks don’t ask the person next to them for a clarification or to comment. But, since you seem to recognize me the obvious solution to your problem would simply be to sit a little further away. But, that isn’t your real objection, is it?

  3. I certainly thought Mr. Williams comment was inappropriate.  I thought that would be understood.  Anyone would think that, not just you.  So, Bernie, I see you are also a conspiracy theorist.  No one uses this log in except myself. 

    Mr. Holmes. we may not agree on all things, but I enjoy reading your comments,  And this is meant as a compliment..always good English, punctation, thoughtful, etc. In this day of texting abbreviations, slang and such, the fine art of written communication is is a dying art.  I appreciate your efforts.

  4.    This is not about whether or not someone believes my behavior was disruptive. Were it disruptive I’m sure there would have been more than the one person complaining and it would have been much sooner than two hours into the program, wouldn’t it? The disruption came when the use of the ugly phrase “little brown people” was used, and I asked my companion about it, not a second sooner.  Again, if there were a disruptive, constant conversation , why the outburst after two hours and only after the ugly comments?  Very odd that the Sheriff also found it necessary to stand up and ask us to quiet down only after the guy jumped up and began screaming. Why didn’t the Sheriff ask us prior to that if we were being disruptive? The answer is because we were not being disruptive and the Sheriff was not responding to us, rather to the guy who jumped up and was yelling. 
       More to the point, Galrepub. The issue is the ugly use of the the phrase “little brown people”. Why have you not responded to that point? Do you, like Mr.Pearce, condone that behavior by your silence? If you don’t condone the use of that sort of language I’m sure you would like to post something to the effect that you don’t. Or would you rather keep the focus away from the original post and the points I was making?
      I would also note that the writing style between the first post in screaming caps and the second post is substantially different. So much so, that I’d be willing to bet that the second post was authored by a more articulate and polished writer than the first.

  5. Oh, to be able to name-drop with the aplomb of Micheal J. Swickard, Jr.

    I do not have any “privileged” anecdotes with which to promote my qualification as a pundit (ad nauseum), so I’ll just reiterate a few pertintent facts regarding Mr. Steve Pearce:

    Representative Pearce received an all expense paid trip to Tampa, Florida courtesy of Hot Springs Motoplex Development (google: Charles W. “Bing” Kearney, Jr. and Gregory P. Neal) during a prior term of office. Mr. Neal has admitted to investors that he had spent more than $125,000 on lobbying efforts at that time, even though no one connected with his business endeavors had bothered to register as a lobbyist in either Santa Fe or Washington, D.C. Furthermore, Mr. Pearce continues to exert pressure on the City of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on behalf of Mr. Neal and his project, while steadfastly refusing to release any financial details this trip to Tampa.  
    I spoke with Mr. Pearce last summer. I questioned hims as to how our enormous national debt could possibly be eliminated. He had absolutely no suggestions, but replied with talking points regarding the need to reduce the federal deficit through the sales of oil, timber, and mineral leases to extractive industries. When we currently have a natonal debt approaching $17 trillion dollars, to claim that a balanced budget amendment is anything more than a miniscule rhetorical victory is naive at best, and misleading at worst. 

    We do not “have to have” fossil fuel industries. With paid corporate spokespersons/elected representives like Steve Pearce continually misrepresenting the situation, while promoting the idea that several billion dollars of leases are somehow capable of balancing a $17 trillion debt, there is very little possiblity of having an informed conversation about energy independence… especially in a state wholly dependent upon the oil and gas industry for any possibility of changing the color of ink from red to black. When Mr. Pearce is on the front lines fighting to site new solar, wind, and bio-diesel production facilities throughout Southern New Mexico, rather than staging photo-ops in support of established extractive industries, perhaps his message may once again develop some credibility with the average INFORMED voter.

  6. So I see, it isn’t “Gale”; one of the odd psychological tricks of the linguistic center of our brains is that when confronted by unfamiliar words – or made up words and self-created compound words, as most internet usernames are – we tend to substitute words with which we are familiar. I fell into that particular intellectual trap, and you have my apologies.
    That being said, it’s worth noting that my response to you was borne of the remarkable lack of civility inherent in the comment itself and the strange hypocrisy of thinking that such an attitude makes for an efficient corrective to what you perceive as someone else’s lack of civility.  It is also worth noting that you too have fallen into a common psychological trap; no where in my previous comment did I make any comment on the voracity of Bernie’s statement, Dr. Swickard’s, Vi’s, or anyone else’s.  My comment was addressed entirely to you, and to assume my lack of commentary on statements made by people whom I did not address in any way was somehow an endorsement of their statements is, in a word, bizarre.  I am unclear on how silence is automatically equivalent to agreement.
    As for kspark’s comment (and, for that matter, all comments prior to your own), it was made several days ago in a conversation which I was not following until my eye was drawn to a large-text – and thus impossible-to-ignore – comment in the front-page sidebar that was written in a manner that is usually reserved for angsty middle-schoolers.  All I can say about ksparks comment is that the formatting of it is no where near as disturbing as the electoral-result implication and Cabinet-staffing suggestions contained therein.

  7. When he decided that the Constitution will be his guide to legislation, Mr. Pearce apparently neglected to read the 14th Amendment, which says that public debt of the United States “will not be questioned”. 

    On August 5, 2011, Mr Pearce and his Tea Party colleagues not only questioned the public debt of the US, they voted yes on a bill  which, had it passed would have put the US government in default.  With that action, Mr. Pearce and his colleagues helped to trigger a downgrade in the US government’s credit and made the country’s already precarious financial condition more precarious. 

    When I vote in November, the first race I’ll vote in is the NM District 2 race and the vote I cast will be for Evelyn Madrid Erhard. I’ll do it happily because I’ve concluded that she represents my views better than Mr. Pearce does on a wide array of issues. However, I would have voted for her in any case because I believe that Mr. Pearce’s vote on August 5, 2011 was too irresponsible to overlook. His vote negates what he says he believes about the importance of putting the US Constitution first and, in my opinion, makes him unsuited to the office he currently holds.

    Patricia Pallares
    Bosque Farms, NM 

  8. Sorry about the caps, nothing intended by it.  The print that shows on the response section is so small, it is barely readable, as it is again today. Since we are big on corrections, Mr. Holmes, it is not Gale and ksparks is in bold, another email no-no.  I am assuming the grammar issues are because I am a Republican since there are errors in several other posts as well.  What type of documenttaion do you want?  You took Bernie’s word for it and never questioned a thing he said.  I can describe Bernie and his friend, I could probably tell you most of what was discussed.  There was a gentleman from the Occupy movement there. He listened to everything, moved closer to hear better and, at the end, said it was sobering. Several women from the CAFe’ (I believe that is the correct way they spell it) organization were there, wearing their organizations t-shirts.  They were sitting several rows behind me. They left part way through the program with no disruptions or comments.  The only disruption during the whole presentation was from Bernie and his companion.  If it was so bad, why did they stay until the end? I saw them leave.


  9. Gale:
    Out of curiosity, are you under the impression that typing your entire comment with the caps lock on exempts you from proper grammar, correct spelling, and documentation to back up your claims?

  10. galrepub, You lose credibility when you type with all CAPS.  There are a lot of emails full of lies circulating the web that are typed in all caps, large font size, text color red, etc.  Turn the caps lock off.   Also, it is “here,” not HEAR.


  12. Vi-Las Cruces: whoever you are, I am a southern New Mexico resident who thinks Pearce is an excellent Congressman, even though I am not of his political party. Correction: he has served seven terms, fourteen years in public service. He served two terms in the NM Legislature and is ending his first Congressional term after sitting out a term, but was in the U.S. House of Representatives four terms previously.
    What I am the most astounded by is your statement that you have never heard him make a statement about his personal convictions. While I do not doubt your statement as true, it means you have not been around Steve.
    With the privilege of age, let me tell you of the five men who have served as a Congressman from the Second Congressional District since the district was formed in its current manner in 1968: They are Ed Foreman, Harold Runnels, Joe Skeen, Steve Pearce and Harry Teague. With the privilege of age was the privilege of knowing all five, though I spent the least amount of time with Harry since I was off doing a project to help struggling readers in public schools for part of his two year term.
    Ed Foreman has been a mentor and teacher for me over the years. He has a personal development company that trains, among others, the management of a large grocery chain. His four day workshops over the years have been much in demand and personally, having attended them, I know they really help people develop within themselves. Ed has the distinction of serving in Congress first from New Mexico and then from Texas. He and his brother Chub Foreman are from Portales. I drink coffee with Chub regularly and belong to the same Methodist Church. I volunteered in both his 1968 and 1970 campaigns.
    Harold “Mud” Runnels was an absolute delight. Of the five Congressmen I must confess I liked him the best. His wry sense of humor and his down to earth style meant he got votes from the core of both political parties. His sons are in the radio business in New Mexico to this day. A little known fact: his pilot in New Mexico to take him around the district at times was – Steve Pearce. Someone would say, Runnels is in town and we would head to the coffee shop. I miss him and wish he had not died suddenly in 1980.
    Joe Skeen was a friend from Lincoln County when I was the Publisher and Editor of the Lincoln County News, a weekly newspaper. He was another down to earth fellow who worked hard with his hands on his ranch. I hesitate to start telling Joe Skeen stories because there are so many. He was another great Congressman and 95 percent of what he did that made New Mexico better in his 22 years in Congress is not part of the public dialog today.
    Steve Pearce was in ROTC as the same time as I at New Mexico State University in the late 1960s. I was a student senator while he was student body president. He exhibited great leadership and I document one confrontation with some SDS operatives outside Corbett Center one afternoon in the 1969 yearbook that shows lots of courage and conviction. Over the years I would see Steve very occasionally but watched him in the 90s get elected to the New Mexico legislature and was glad. In 2002 he ran for Skeen’s open seat and won. We talked many times during that election and have many times since. If anything, Steve is run very much by his internal convictions to the detriment of his standing with Congressional Leadership. It bothers me to see people talk about Steve doing anything but what his internal compass says, because that is what runs him. He and I have been at odds a few times over issues and he is always cordial and direct about our differences. They are always about convictions. Again, we agree 90 percent of the time but I have no trouble talking convictions with Steve on the few things where we do not see eye to eye.
    Finally, Harry Teague. A very nice fellow who I believe would have grown into a good Congressman but did not have the time in office. To my way of thinking he was a bit of a dinosaur in politics because he was so put off by angry constituents waving their finger at him. None of the others, Foreman, Runnels, Skeen or Pearce were ever put off by angry people. In fact, Mud Runnels especially loved it when people came at him angry. Most of the time after clearing the air, they got their say and realized that Runnels was listening and would take their thoughts back to Congress.
    So Vi-Las Cruces, I hope that helps to know those who have served us. I admit I do not know Pearce’s opponent in the coming election, Evelyn Madrid Erhard. She is very welcome to my statewide talk radio program, News New Mexico and I have talked about her from her press releases, but do not know her. I’m at the coffee shop every day and would love to talk about convictions the way I do with Democrat Joe Cervantes, Republican Lee Cotter and others. Heath and I go talk convictions regularly. You, Vi-Las Cruces are welcome to join us.

  13. Pearce does not mention any legislation he has sponsored or supported.  He has no specifics, just easily twisted platitudes.

  14. ksparks, is your remark satire?  I don’t know anyone in southern NM who believes Pearce is an “excellent” Congressman. He has no personal agenda or convictions from what I have witnessed in his two terms. He mouths conservative platitudes but I have never heard him make a statement about his personal convictions. Besides, he’s totally in the pocket of the fossil industry.

  15.    I recently attended a presentation by the Tea Party and others to Pearce at the Allen theaters. During one of the PowerPoint presentations the presenter was giving his account of how life used to be on local ranches. When he referred to a lifestyle in which they didn’t have to worry about “little brown people” I turned to the person I was with and asked “Did he just say ‘little brown people?’. The answer was an astonished “yes, he did”. At that point a rather verbose and large person sitting in the second seat to the left of me jumped up and began screaming at the both of us about our attitude and in an attempt to intimidate us demanded to know who we were and why we were taking notes and why had we not signed the sign-in sheet. The sheriff was sitting a few rows in front and stood up to motion the screamer to sit down, which he did. He remained hostile and verbally agressive several more times. My impression of the audience was that they were fully supportive of his threatening us and his aggressive behavior. My impression of the sheriff and his lieutenant was that they were over the line in publicly endorsing such behavior by not tossing the guy. My impression of the entire Tea Party and Congressman Pearce was that they are highly paranoid, devoid of civility, cultish, reactionary and easily led by presentations lacking in fact or substance. Part of the presentation included gratuitous photos from Mexican morgues of human heads that had been severed and lined up and other shots of human heads that had been skinned. The Tea Party I witnessed was a fight looking for a reason to break out. The Congressman I saw was a disgusting example of cowardice in not stepping up instantly and stopping the show at the first public display of racist rhetoric.

  16. Trillion dollar tax cuts for the rich and trillion dollar tax cuts for the rich, multi-trillion dollar war and multi- trillion dollar war and trillion dollar prescription drug plan and 3 trillion dollar gift to the banksters and 16 trillion dollars in tax free loans and the Tea Baggers notice we’re in financial difficulties. They lie when they blame the poor and working class for this problem. Tea Baggers worship the rich: their money money is sacrosanct. Unfortunately, worship of the golden calf requires human sacrifice: of the poor and working class.

  17. If he is going to interpret the Constitutions literally I wish you had asked him if he thought DOMA Constitutional. While you were at it you might have asked him what he would say to a constituent who wants to change the 14th amendment and deny citizenship to a child born on this soil because of the status of that child’s parents. I wish you had asked him about my Constitutional right to vote even if I don’t have a drivers licence.

    His answers would have been most enlightening.  

  18. Steve Pearce is an excellent Congressman. I would like to see him become Secretary of Energy in a Romney Administration.