ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —In a speech to hundreds of business leaders Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham promised to work across party lines if she’s elected governor and to champion New Mexico as a great place to do business.
She said she would pursue changes to the state’s procurement code to help local businesses win state contracts and support efforts to simplify the state’s gross receipts tax code.
“I think New Mexico is on the edge of incredible transformation,” Lujan Grisham said during a speech to members of the Economic Forum of Albuquerque, a nonpartisan group of business leaders.
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, is giving up her seat in Congress to run for governor. She faces a Republican colleague, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, in the Nov. 6 election.
Both candidates have pledged repeatedly to work on diversifying New Mexico’s economy, which is heavily dependent on oil and gas production and federal spending at military bases and national laboratories. The state ranks among the worst in child poverty.
But Lujan Grisham said New Mexico should do more bragging about its strengths — a rocky mountain environment, wind and sunshine well-suited to renewable energy, national laboratories and strong, resilient people.
“New Mexico is the next greatest thing. That’s what I think,” she said. “What an incredible opportunity — this is a state that’s never realized its potential, but it could, it should and with your help, it will.”
She also touted a commitment to bipartisanship, noting that she had worked as a state Cabinet secretary under both Republican and Democratic governors.
In a written statement, the Pearce campaign responded that Lujan Grisham’s history shows she would put “partisan cronies first and the people of New Mexico last.”
“Steve Pearce is the only candidate in this race who has created jobs and as Governor he will make New Mexico an engine of growth in all forms of energy, high tech, tourism, and trade,” spokesman Kevin Sheridan said. “Steve Pearce will be a jobs Governor for all New Mexicans, not the select few.”
Lujan Grisham said that if elected, she would immediately gather the legislative leaders of both parties at the Roundhouse for a meeting to develop a slate of bills that could be approved quickly in the 2019 session.
One priority, she said, would be legislation that passed by overwhelming margins in previous sessions, only to be vetoed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Lujan Grisham said she would convene a bipartisan tax commission to overhaul the complex system of gross receipts taxes. The code is so complicated, she said, that the state has trouble administering it.
Pearce, who founded an oil field services company, has also pledged to pursue bipartisan solutions, including an overhaul of the tax system. He has called for an expansion of apprenticeship programs and more work-training programs for released inmates as part of a plan to boost the economy.