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Roswell Daily Record: Domenici comes to Roswell, talks politics, immigration, abortion

By: Alex Ross | June 7, 2024

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Nella Domenici recently spent two days in Roswell, where she attended events and toured the Roswell Air Center.

“I'm here to really learn about this city, the issues it's facing, and the challenges and opportunities it has,” Domenici told the Roswell Daily Record on May 29, her last day in Roswell.

Domenici's itinerary included a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Chaves County Public Health building, an event with local Republicans and a tour of the Roswell Air Center.

“I've had different discussions, a series of discussions which were really learning sessions for me. So I met with local city officials, county officials and businessmen in different areas, from agriculture to ranching to oil and gas, then I've also met with service providers like lawyers,” she said.

During her tour of the Roswell Air Center, Domenici spoke with officials of the airport about the recent news that, beginning in 2025, Roswell will be the host city for the National Championship Air Races and Air Show, something that local officials and economic developers say will bring with it tourism and revenue to the area. 

She also toured the facility of Dean Baldwin Painting LP, an aircraft painting company with a location in Roswell that employs 156 people.

Domenici said that the visit to Roswell marked the third time since she launched her campaign earlier this year that she has traveled to Southeast New Mexico, a region with some of the most lucrative oil tracts in the nation and the source of much of the state's budget revenue.

But it's a part of the state, with its vast stretches of oil fields and ranch land, that Domenici argues receives too little attention.

“This corner of New Mexico is precious, and it deserves to have a voice in Washington, and it deserves to have a voice in Santa Fe because there is lots of opportunity here, but there are lots of problems here. There are lots of areas that need to be addressed at the federal level,” she said.

For Domenici, an Albuquerque resident whose resume includes a stint as chief financial officer for Bridgewater Associates, Southeast New Mexico is a bedrock of political support, a dependable Republican enclave in what is widely considered a Democratic state.

In January, Domenici declared that she would vie for the Republican nomination to take on two-term Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich in November.

“I decided to run because I've always wanted to serve New Mexico, and service has been a big part of my upbringing and my family,” she explained.

That family included her late father, former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 until 2009.

Since her father retired from the U.S. Senate, no Republican has represented New Mexico in that body, and the party's fortunes have diminished substantially in the last few election cycles. Democrats occupy all five New Mexico congressional seats, all statewide elected offices and hold big majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

But Domenici argues that New Mexicans are looking for a change amid inflation, concerns about security along the southern border, and as the state becomes more associated with high crime rates and its low ranking on a host of socioeconomic issues.

“New Mexicans are angry and frustrated because of these problems,” she said. That disenchantment has only been compounded by the chaos and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflationary pressures and the state's high crime rates.

She added that New Mexico has also not seen the growth in population or industries that its neighboring states have not experienced.

“New Mexico needs a change in leadership because these problems are so bad people are angry and frustrated and concerned and worried. People are willing and eager to look at new leadership,” she said.

In recent years, the Republican Party has become increasingly defined by its hardline on enhanced border security and backing of more restrictive immigration policies.

As the U.S. has dealt with skyrocketing illegal migrant crossings and strains on its asylum system, the issue has become a central focus of the nation's political dialogue and conversations about national security.

In a May 17 post on "X," the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Domenici blamed the Biden administration and Heinrich and called for the border to be closed.

Domenici told the Roswell Daily Record that those calls were not meant to be an attack on immigration.

“I do believe, fundamentally, that immigration is a good thing for America and that immigration is a good thing for New Mexico, especially. However, our border currently is not secure, and it is lawless,” she said.

The border and immigration systems, she contends, are underresourced, with a shortage of border security personnel and an overburdened asylum system.

“Our asylum policies are not good, they're not fair. We don't have enough people processing our asylum immigrants,” she explained.

Domenici said she supports a return to the Trump administration policy known as Remain in Mexico, where asylum seekers were required to stay in Mexico or their home countries while their asylum claims were processed.

She would not say whether or not she would have supported a bipartisan border security bill unveiled earlier this year, but that congressional Republicans backed away from at the instruction of former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Right now, I'm not going to trap myself in answering hypotheticals. When I am a senator, I'm sure the border will be addressed. Hopefully, it will be addressed urgently as to the safety and controls that are at the border,” she said.

On abortion, Domenici notes that with the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision in 2022, abortion access is no longer a federal issue but is a matter decided at the state level.

“Our state has its abortion policy, which, as a federal senator, I don't have any influence over,” Domenici said.

When asked whether she would back legislation that would restrict abortion access at the federal level, Domenici indicated that she would not. But she wants to concentrate on reducing abortions by addressing unintended pregnancies.

She argues that this can be accomplished through education and expanding access to contraception and birth control.

“It is really very simple, if we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, we will reduce the number of abortions, and that is the right thing for our country to do,” she said.


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