“Everyone comes in from completely different backgrounds. But at lunch time, we all crack open the lunch box and we’re one.”
Even on a local level, Rich said he believes the federal government, through negotiation, can create a solution to Carlsbad’s brine well, in danger of a collapse which could cause millions in damages and litigation.
Local leaders have tangled for years over who should take responsibility for the problem.
To Rich, all levels should be at the table.
“That’s a big issue, and the federal government should step up,” he said. “There are federal funds available for mine closures, and those issues dealing with mining. As New Mexico’s U.S. Senator, I’ll be looking for federal funds, because that’s a federal issue. They’re part of the puzzle.”
As an outside observer, Rich said he sees politicians looking out for their own agenda, or that of their party, and failing to address the issues that matter to constituents.
If he takes office, Rich said he plans to usher in an ideology that ignores partisan politics, and looks out for the good of the voters.
“When you look at Washington, they’re not looking at bringing people together, they’re looking at how they can push forward their agenda, not the people’s agenda,” Rich said. “I’m just a guy that wants to get the job done.”
He has interacted with numerous federal agencies as a contractor, Rich said, completing numerous projects on big cities and small towns.
That experience should translate well, he said, to life as federal lawmaker.
“I have spent a career working with federal agencies,” Rich said. “I have worked with probably almost every federal agency in New Mexico. I know what it’s like to deal with the federal bureaucracies. In my business, you had to bring people together, even the government agencies, to move forward with the project. I’ve been successful with that.”
His opponent, Heinrich who announced his re-election bid in March 2017, has failed to make a meaningful change in the Senate, he said, by struggling to form relationships across the aisle.
“If he was doing his job, I wouldn’t be running for Senate,” Rich said. “He isn’t doing his job.”
Rich was particularly critical of Heinrich’s vote against the confirmation of U.S. Secretary Rick Perry, which was followed by a Department of Energy report that could steer weapons upgrades away from Los Alamos.
The DOE is heavily focused on Tennessee, Rich said, which has two GOP senators.
“He voted against the confirmation of Rick Perry,” Rich said of Heinrich. “Then the DOE had a report that said maybe Los Alamos is not the best place for the next weapons upgrade. I know how to build relationships, even with people who don’t necessarily agree with me. That’s why I’ve had Democrats that supported by candidacy. Martin Heinrich hasn’t learned that, and he’s been there 10 years.”
Rich said the five-year senator played a part in the country’s failed healthcare system, and criticized his vote against the GOP’s recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill.
He called Heinrich’s votes partisan, putting the political agendas ahead of the needs of the people.
“This is a guy who voted against the tax bill,” Rich said. “I’m looking at this and say it looks good to me. I’m hearing corporations are handing out nice bonuses to people.
“I hear 80 percent of taxpayers are going to get a decrease. And Martin Heinrich voted against it. For me, it’s not about a republican agenda, it’s an agenda for the people.”
Negotiations are essential to advancing such an agenda, Rich said.
He was critical of Democrat leaders who walked out of immigration talks with President Donald Trump, following Trump’s now infamous supposed labeling of many African nations as “shithole countries.”
He also attacked Heinrich for voting against Congress’s Continuing Resolution, paving the way for a government shutdown.
“Martin Heinrich did nothing to move forward the immigration issues. Now here it is and he wants to blow up the whole budget process. It’s unconscionable to me,” Rich said.
Immigration is an essential issue to address at the federal level, Rich said. To him, immigrants don’t just come for jobs, but to become Americans.
“We’re looking at this and saying the only people we’re holding responsible for immigration issues are employers,” Rich said. “We saw kids come here. They weren’t coming for jobs, they were coming to live here. It’s not just about jobs, it’s about freedom. We need a system that is fair and equitable for the people that are here.”
There is a limit to how many immigrants should be allowed in the country, Rich said, and he said he is committed to negotiating the issue.
We can only accept so many immigrants without making it so that nobody can be successful,” he said. “It costs substantial funds to bring a person in in immigration. No enough funds are allocated per person.”
On state issues, Rich said his focus is on job creation, eliminating regulations, and supporting rural New Mexicans.
Support for the oil and gas industry in southeast New Mexico is also important, Rich said, amid innovations in green and renewable energy.
He said New Mexico could be at the forefront of America’s fuel independence.
“When you think about New Mexico’s oil and gas industry, I don’t think southeast New Mexico is given the credit for where we’re at in the world,” Rich said. “It’s not just about the U.S. being energy independent.
“We have now surpassed Saudi Arabia in production. We are no longer beholden to countries that don’t have our best interests at heart.”
As a Senator, Rich said his decisions will affect him and his family as well as New Mexicans from every region.
“The big difference is that at the local level, whether it’s the media or the political environment, you leave here at the end of the day and you’re seeing people at the grocery store… and they say “Hey, this isn’t getting fixed,” Rich said.