Pearce Vying Again For His Old Job in Congress

Associated Press + More

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  — Steve Pearce wants his old job back.

The former Republican congressman is back, running to represent southern New Mexico's sprawling 2nd Congressional District against first-term Rep. Harry Teague, the Democrat who claimed the office when Pearce stepped away to pursue a U.S. Senate seat in 2008.

Both men are from Hobbs with backgrounds in the oilfield business.

Pearce has an opponent in the Republican primary on June 1 but will be strongly favored. Cliff Pirtle, a 24-year-old Roswell farmer, says he will turn 25 before the Nov. 2 general election and thus will be old enough to serve in the House of Representatives if elected.

Pirtle has said he doesn't plan to raise or spend more than $5,000 in campaign funds, the threshold for filing federal election reports. Pearce, who drew 92 percent of the vote at the GOP's nominating convention in March, had bankrolled more than $700,000 by mid-April.

Teague is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Two Republicans are vying to run against Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., in northern New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District. Lujan is unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face petroleum engineer Tom Mullins of Farmington or Iraq war veteran Adam Kokesh of Santa Fe in November.

In the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District, first-term Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich, a former Albuquerque city councilor, is unopposed in the primary. But this fall, he faces a challenge from Republican Jon Barela, an Albuquerque businessman who has no primary opposition.

Pearce and Barela are among candidates that national Republicans are watching closely in the party's effort to gain back seats in the House of Representatives.

Pearce, a former Air Force pilot and Vietnam-era veteran, won his initial bid for Congress in 2002 from the southern New Mexico district. He served three terms before making a run at the Senate when former Sen. Pete Domenici retired. Pearce lost the Senate race to Democrat Tom Udall.