Rep. Harry Teague (D)
New Mexico 2nd District
Southeastern New Mexico is a disparate landscape: endless sagebrush-strewn acreage and then, suddenly, 9,000-foot mountain peaks rising along the Continental Divide. The eastern part of this region—places like Clovis and Portales, Lovington and Hobbs—speaks with a Texas twang rather than a northern New Mexico lilt. In Little Texas, as southeastern New Mexico is known, oil has long been the economic mainstay. Cattle ranching is common, and cotton is grown on irrigated land. One of the larger towns is Roswell, site of a supposed flying-saucer landing in 1947 and now home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Farther west is White Sands National Monument, with its immaculate gypsum dunes and specially evolved animals with white coloration that allows them to elude predators in the harsh environment. Close by is Alamogordo, where the first atomic bomb was exploded at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945. Virgin Galactic, a company started by billionaire Richard Branson, has leased land near White Sands to build the nation’s first commercial spaceport. It plans to send passengers to the edge of space starting in 2010.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
As in many places on America’s high plains, population here is thinning and old economic pillars are crumbling. Once reliant on potash mining, Carlsbad aggressively sought the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a nuclear-waste repository. East of Carlsbad, a uranium-enrichment plant is under construction in Eunice, the first such facility licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In central and western New Mexico, the scrubland shades into desert, and people cram into small cities, protected from summer’s burning heat and winter’s deathly cold. The Hatch Valley, in the desert adjoining Interstate 25, is home to perhaps the world’s finest chili peppers—the traditional cornerstone of the Southwest’s spicy cuisine. Places like Silver City and Bayard were built on mining and occasional discord. The story of a strike by Mexican-American workers at a zinc mine here in 1950 and 1951 was told in the film Salt of the Earth. Now home to miners, artists, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, Silver City lacks the polish of Santa Fe or Taos, but locals like to say it offers “the real New Mexico experience.”
Las Cruces, New Mexico’s second-largest city, has grown at rates well above the statewide average, thanks to migrants from Mexico coming up the Rio Grande. Nearby are the Robledo Mountains, hailed by the Smithsonian Institution as the world’s greatest repository of pre-dinosaur era fossil tracks. For decades, Anglo and Mexican ranchers across the border spoke “the common language of cattle.” Communities frequently shared public services with their cross-border neighbors and left the gates open at night for stragglers stuck too late on the wrong side of the border. But rapid development due to 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, a surge in illegal immigration and a sharp uptick in drug trafficking have brought enormous strains. Still, the New Mexico portion of the U.S.-Mexico border remains far sleepier than elsewhere, and the border posts that dot New Mexico’s largely empty 150-mile frontier apprehend considerably fewer illegal immigrants than those in Arizona. The national training center for border-patrol agents has been consolidated in Artesia.
The 2nd Congressional District of New Mexico covers this southern part of the state, going as far north as the suburb of Las Lunas and the Isleta Pueblo south of Albuquerque and the Acoma Pueblo to the west. Demographically and politically, it is diverse. It includes most of New Mexico’s Little Texas—majority Anglo and solidly conservative, though with a Democratic heritage. It includes the politically marginal Las Cruces and the Democratic mining counties in the southwest corner of the state. And it includes the Indian country around the pueblos, which is strongly Democratic. The district is 49% Hispanic and 5% Indian. More Hispanics are ineligible to vote here than in the 1st and 3rd districts.
Rep. Harry Teague (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: June 29, 1949, Gracemont, OK .
Education: Attended Hobbs H.S..
Family: Married (Nancy); 2 children.
Elected office: Lea Cnty. Bd. of Commissioners, 1998-2006, chmn. 2003-06.
Professional Career: Pres., Teaco Energy Services
The new congressman from the 2nd District is Democrat Harry Teague. Teague defeated Republican nominee Edward Tinsley to become the first Democrat to represent the district since 1980. Republican Rep. Steve Pearce had given up the seat to run for the Senate.
|Harry Teague (D)||129,572||(56%)||($3,408,821)|
|Edward Tinsley (R)||101,980||(44%)||($2,389,508)|
|Harry Teague (D)||20,281||(52%)|
|Bill McCamley (D)||18,597||(48%)|
Teague was born in Gracemont, Okla., and moved to eastern New Mexico at 9 years old. When he was a senior at Hobbs High School, his father became ill, and Teague dropped out of school to work in the oil fields along the New Mexico-Texas border. His starting rate was $1.50 an hour, which he used to help support the family. Today, Teague is president of his own company, the Hobbs-based Teaco Energy Services, Inc., which services oil wells in New Mexico and Texas and employs more than 250 workers. Teague served for eight years on the Lea County Board of Commissioners. Though the commission was controlled by Republicans, he was voted chairman for more than three years. As a commissioner, Teague pushed for bringing the National Enrichment Facility, which processes fuel for nuclear power plants, to Lea County.
In the contest for the House seat, Teague and Tinsley, owner of the K-Bob’s Steakhouse chain and a rancher, both supported more domestic drilling as well as the development of alternative energy. Teague tried to link Tinsley to Republican President Bush as much as possible, emphasizing his opponent’s support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and he criticized Tinsley for opposing an increase in the federal minimum wage. During debates, Teague slammed Tinsley for once being tardy in paying his payroll taxes, noting that Tinsley had had to pay the Internal Revenue Service $65,000 for late filings and late payments. Tinsley brought up a sexual-harassment suit against a vice president of Teague’s company.
Teague got the endorsement of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, an early contender for the presidential nomination in 2008. He also had solid union support, winning endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and the United Steelworkers of America. Tinsley was endorsed by the Las Cruces Sun-News, the dominant newspaper in the district. He also got the backing of retiring Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and former Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace. Teague raised $3.4 million, half of it his own money, while Tinsley raised $2.4 million. Teague won, 56%-44%, performing better than statewide Democratic candidates in the district’s conservative southeastern counties and winning comfortably in more liberal areas such as Dona Ana County.
Once in the House, Teague got seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.