A new Tarrance Group poll taken for the campaign of former Rep. Steve Pearce (R) showed him ahead of Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.) 50 percent to 41 percent. It’s the largest lead Pearce has had in public polls.
The poll, taken Tuesday and Wednesday, showed 9 percent of voters in southern New Mexico are undecided. The survey of 350 likely voters had a margin of error of 5.2 points.
Both parties’ national campaign committees and a number of business and environmental groups have put independent expenditures into the race. The National Republican Congressional Committee is up in the district now, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went dark in the district’s two media markets, Albuquerque and El Paso, earlier this week after having aired multiple ads.
The two candidates have gone back and forth on issues including Teague’s practices as an energy company executive and Pearce’s acceptance of money from a disgraced former gubernatorial candidate in Texas.
Teague’s company announced it would cut health insurance coverage for his employees shortly before Christmas in 2009, and questions have been raised about his wife continuing to profit from the company even while Teague said he doesn’t make money off it anymore.
Pearce took $4,800 from Clayton Williams, the former Texas gubernatorial candidate whose reputation was tainted when he said rape victims “might as well lie back and enjoy it.” Though Pearce refused to give the money back, Democrats pointed out that New Mexico gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez donated a contribution from Williams to charity.
Teague won the seat with 56 percent of the vote in 2008 after Pearce left to run for Senate. Pearce, who served three terms as the district’s Representative, defeated fellow Rep. Heather Wilson in the Republican Senate primary in 2008, but he lost the general election to then-Rep. Tom Udall (D).