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Capitol Notebook: Pearce criticized for referring to ‘the minorities’

SANTA FE – Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce is facing criticism for using the phrase “the minorities” during a forum before a coalition of business groups last week.

Dan McKayRalph Arellanes, chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, said it’s inappropriate for Pearce to lump a bunch of different communities into one group – “the minorities.”

“It just shows he’s out of touch,” Arellanes said.

He took issue with other parts of Pearce’s remarks, too – including a passage in which he spoke about young people graduating with no skills and his goal of getting “each one of the minorities in the state” to study more science and related subjects in college.

The criticism centers on Pearce’s appearance at a candidate forum in Albuquerque, when the congressman sometimes put the word “the” in front of “minorities” when speaking about economic opportunity and education to a group of business leaders.

“New Mexico lags behind in our pay for a lot of the minorities,” Pearce said.

The state, he added later, must “stop channeling our young people into a life of despair, because right now they graduate from high school with almost no capability to get jobs. They come to you to get hired. You don’t hire them. They end up on the streets, maybe in gangs and drugs, and we wonder why we have the circumstances we have. Just train first.

“I’ve set goals that for each one of the minorities in the state, we’re going to increase their application to STEM subjects in college.”

The chairpersons of Hispanics for Pearce said they were proud to stand with him against “false attacks.”

“This ridiculous attempt to smear Congressman Pearce is extremely disappointing and demonstrates the high level of panic among the far left as Congressman Pearce continues to gain support from Democrats and independents across the state,” Jose Orozco and Marisol Cardenas said. “Calling somebody a racist because they support increasing wages and employment in minority communities is beyond the pale, and the selective editing of comments demonstrates a complete willingness to destroy the truth in the pursuit of power.”

New Mexico’s population was 49 percent Hispanic or Latino in 2017, according to census estimates, the highest percentage in the country.

FUNDRAISER: Republican congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones is holding a fundraiser with Dinesh D’Souza – the conservative commentator who pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance fraud and later apologized for mocking Parkland, Fla., students after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in that city.

D’Souza was pardoned by President Trump this year.

He’s scheduled to appear at a private fundraiser Sept. 7 with Arnold-Jones, the GOP candidate in the 1st Congressional District.

In an interview, Arnold-Jones said D’Souza is a provocateur with interesting things to say.

“He has a fascinating perspective,” she said.

Dan McKay: