I spoke with Albert Kissling, the retired pastor who’s running against Steve Pearce this year, last night. I’ve given some first impressions to Joe, but I thought I would share them with you here as well.
Mr. Kissling is one articulate dude. When a candidate calls the incumbent duplicitous, you know you’re speaking with a well-versed man. He was also very friendly, and just seized on every opportunity to ask questions and get to know you better. Which, in what he’s preparing to do in the coming months, will serve him well.
As far as his campaign, Kissling said he’s got tons of signatures to get on the ballot. I think he’s lagging a bit as far as fundraising is concerned, and though it’s still early, he’ll want to get cracking on that right away. With Steve Pearce able to regularly raise goodly sums of cash, Kissling is already one step behind.
Regarding Pearce, it seems like Kissling will attempt to tar the Congressman with the Jack Abramoff brush. He told me that, with Pearce, “You have to look at his votes, not at his quotes.” He mentioned veterans specifically, saying Pearce had pledged to support vets before he voted to cut funding for them. Kissling also said it was immoral to pass tax cuts for the rich while cutting programs for the poor.
I don’t have any hard numbers, because I haven’t seen any poll on the race yet (if one has, in fact, been done), so I am anxious to see just where Kissling stands with residents in Southern New Mexico. However, after speaking with him, I think he’ll be on good ground in three areas: affordable housing, education, and crime reduction. Those are three issues he’s focused on in the past, in New Mexico and elsewhere. He’ll likely get a lot of support from the affordable housing/sustainable development crowd here in Grant County.
I didn’t ask about his thoughts on immigration, an issue that Pearce will likely trumpet during his campaign. Something to follow up on today.
That’s it for now. First impression: he’ll make a good candidate, if he can raise the money to make the race competitive. He’ll be hard to smear, being a retired pastor, and House Republicans across the country will be on the defensive for their Abramoff connections. Pearce also has close ties to Rep. Pombo, the guy from California who proposed selling off all that national land to mining companies. Still, Rep. Pearce sees a lot of support there in the Southeast part of the state, and in many parts of the Southwest too.
I’ll keep you updated.