Jeremy Gay said his past as an attorney in the Marine Corps, local business owner and active member of the community in Gallup where he resides made him uniquely qualified to become New Mexico’s highest ranking law enforcement official.
He’s the Republican Party’s nominee for Attorney General for the state’s general election in November, hoping to defeat Raul Torrez, who previously served as Bernalillo County district attorney for a post not held by a Republican since Harold Stratton left the office in 1990.
Gay said Democrats have politicized the office while in control, and he wants to return it to its main purpose: enforcing the law.
The Carlsbad Current-Argus sat down with Gay to discuss his goals if elected and how he plan to execute them.
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What are is your main priority for the office if you’re elected in November?
“I’m running to execute the mission of the office. It has oftentimes been used as a political office to politically grandstand, whether it be the Green New Deal or some other progressive talking point. It’s oftentimes completely divorced and separated from the needs of New Mexico.
“Some communities are better than others, but across the state there’s been an uptick (in crime), especially in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, the population centers, it’s devolving into really desperate circumstances.”
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What do you see as the role of New Mexico’s rural communities compare with its big cities?
“The rural communities, through big oil and gas, through agriculture, fill the coffers of the state, and the state spends that in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. So, it’s like you’ve got this more conservative group around the state, very hard-working, big business industries that are single-handedly accounting for large portions of the state’s tax revenue and those monies often times don’t go back to those communities. More and more these population centers are wildly misusing those funds on straight-up inappropriate spending or well-intentioned programs that don’t work.”
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How would you plan to work with southeast New Mexico’s industries like oil and gas?
“Unfortunately, big oil and gas are constantly under fire because it’s just politically expedient right now for progressive leftists who attack, really mindlessly attack, big oil and gas. Now, there are issues of waste, fraud and abuse and overwhelming environmental damage, but there’s a saying that a Marine on duty has no friends.
“And the mindset with that is that my policy is that I want to keep an open dialogue with any industry, any lawmaker, but if you’re breaking the law, if you are breaking environmental standards that are on the books, I will enforce the law.
“I would say that I have a friendliness and an appreciation for big oil and gas, and it’s not lost on me that it’s a massive asset for our state. It’s one of the greatest resources in our state, and we see the tax revenue and everything else.
“We’re seeing nationwide what happens when politics gets in the way of the economy for virtue signaling. You can’t mess with the market. That’s not the state’s role. The state’s role in my mind is to preserve an environment where businesses and private individuals, in a safe manner, can pursue their lives.”
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What’s your plan to work across party lines should you serve under a Democrat administration?
“I see merit, so when there’s fraud waste or abuse wherever, I’m going to call it out whether you’re Republican or Democrat. When there’s good policies, good ideas, I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat. I’m going to give credit where credit is due.
“As far as working with Michelle Lujan Grisham, if she wins and she is governor for another four years, I don’t see that my role or duty is to be antagonistic. I believe she has executive orders, I think there’s been some clear government overreach, and I’m going to enforce the state’s constitution and be loyal to the federal constitution.”
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What are your impressions of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the State’s administration so far?
“It very much looks like she’s auditioning for a higher role in the party, whether that be with the Biden administration. If you look at her COVID restrictions, it wasn’t driven by science. It wasn’t data driven.
“It’s near and dear to my heart because I’m in Gallup, New Mexico and it was startling to see how COVID was implemented there. The Navajo Nation was devastated by COVID for a myriad of reasons.
“Access to town was denied to those who did not have a proof that they were residents of Gallup, New Mexico. Seventy-five percent of the homes in the U.S. that are lacking running water or electricity reside on the Navajo Nation.
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“So, you had people coming into town with their trucks, with their water jugs to fill up like they always do, and they’re being told you can’t come here.
“The issue is I’m watching my clients, my friends, my neighbors not being able to enter town. This is America. There was no freedom of travel. They’re being told you can’t enter this community even though you’ve lived here your entire lives.
“It was this big eye-opening experience. This isn’t just some inefficiencies. This isn’t just a differing of opinion. This is someone who has our lives are in her hands and she’s not taking this job very seriously with these policies.”
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Thoughts on the outgoing attorney general Democrat Hector Balderas?
“I think he has a nice haircut. I’ve been driving all over this state, and Hector has done some good things. He’s been reasonable and prudent in some examples. But the further along he got, he seemed to just tow the line, to turn a blind eye to things. Especially for the AG’s office that is disconcerting.
“I don’t like the fact that the AG’s office, and Hector’s hands aren’t clean of this, that it’s been used for just extreme political rhetoric instead of enforcing the law.
“If you’re going to have a watchdog, the watchdog needs to be neutral.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.