By BILLY HUNTSMAN
Las Cruces Bulletin
About 100 people turned out for a rally and fake town hall meeting held outside New Mexico U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R)’s Las Cruces office, 570 N. Telshor Blvd., at noon on Feb. 24.
The participants, many holding signs asking “Where’s Pearce?” and criticizing the Republican congressman’s political decisions, as well as his relationship with Republican President Donald Trump, were members of Indivisible, a national advocacy group that opposes “the Trump agenda,” said Tony Martinez, who founded Las Cruces’ chapter on Jan. 12.
Participants, while mainly from Las Cruces, were also from Ruidoso, Silver City, Truth or Consequences, Hillsboro, Alamogordo, Socorro and Los Lunas.
The rally and fake town hall meeting were held in response to a “failure of Steve Pearce to communicate face to face with his constituents even once during Congress’s Recess Week of Feb. 18-25,” “a time specifically set aside for Congresspeople to return home to listen to their constituents’ concerns,” said Diana Tittle, communications manager, in a press release for Indivisible – Truth or Consequences.
Addressing complaints of inaccessibility, Keeley Christiensen, Pearce’s press secretary, said the congressman has been and is currently traveling throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa as part of a U.S. delegation.
“Rep. Pearce is going to some of the most unstable parts of the world as part of his official obligation as chairman of the new House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance,” she said.
Nonetheless, Pearce’s absence has rubbed some of his constituents the wrong way.
“Constituents have been visiting Rep. Pearce’s office weekly since mid-January in an attempt to meet with Pearce but have not been successful,” said Linda Harris, communications manager for Las Cruces’ Indivisible chapter.
Indivisible members have wanted to voice their concerns and urge Pearce to disavow his support for Trump, but their efforts have met no success, Martinez said.
“President Trump is not a populist president, he lost the popular vote,” Martinez said. “He is not representative of the majority of the American people and he represents an agenda that we do not support.”
Indivisible’s chapters are working so that, in two years, when congressional elections come up, those who support Trump, such as Pearce, will be voted out of office, Martinez said.
“We will make a change,” Martinez said.
Since November when Indivisible was established, more than 7,000 chapters have started throughout the country, with at least two in each state’s congressional districts, said Martinez. There are 18 Indivisible chapters in Pearce’s District 2 alone, Martinez said.
Tittle said “a monkey wrench” was thrown into the rally’s efforts at Pearce’s office on Friday because signs prohibiting political rallies were erected on the private property in which the congressman’s office is located.
These signs were not on the property prior to Indivisible’s gathering at Pearce’s office on Feb. 16, in response to a town hall meeting held via telephone from Pearce’s Washington, D.C. office.
While more than 10,000 people participated in this telephone meeting, a press release from Pearce’s office said, Indivisible members were not satisfied and wanted to meet with Pearce face to face.
The Feb. 16 gathering was “to deliver letters requesting a public meeting with the congressman,” Harris said, rather than a protest or rally.
One participant at the Feb. 24 rally was overheard as saying, “This is not a political protest, we only want to meet with our congressman.”
The signs prohibiting political rallies on the property necessitated the participants to park outside of the property. Security guards ensured the participants were outside the property, along the sidewalk beside North Telshor. The fake town hall meeting took place in the street ending in a cul-de-sac beside the private property.
Tittle said she was concerned that Pearce’s office was located on private property, effectively inhibiting dissatisfied constituents’ right to gather at a publicly elected official’s office.
Speaking on behalf of the property owners, a man named Michael (who would not give his last name) said the property owners were happy the Indivisible members had come to “exercise your rights.”
“Not all of us agree with each other, but thank you so much for you guys being respectful,” Michael said. “I know it was unexpected for you guys not being able to park in the parking lot. We were here just to maintain flow, to assist the businesses that are already in this building.”
Pearce’s office is located two doors down from Simply Devine Salon.
“You’re welcome to come back and rally for what you believe in,” said Michael.
To read the questions Indivisible has for Pearce, and which they asked the fake Pearce who attended the town hall meeting, please click here.
Billy Huntsman can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or at @billy_huntsman on Twitter.