Although rumors of her running for Congress kept coming up throughout the New Mexico political playing field for several months, it wasn’t until last month that Claire Chase decided to make the push.
Today, Chase announced her intention to run as a Republican for the New Mexico Representative U.S. District 2 position. Democrat Xochitl Torres Small won the district in a tough fight with Republican Yvette Herrell last November.
“In November, after the last election cycle I woke up to a New Mexico I did not recognize any longer,” Chase said Monday. “My husband (Chance) and I started thinking and considering how we best can impact the state and felt it was our time to step up and give back in a way that we can be the most useful. We decided this was the right thing to do. So after months and months of thinking, we have three-year-old twins who we want to raise here, but at the rate New Mexico is going that’s not going to be possible for us. So we are hoping we can make an impact and keep New Mexico as a place where people and families can thrive.”
A Roswell native, Chase is a high school graduate of New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell and received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communications from New Mexico State University. She worked in Albuquerque and Santa Fe area after college before working in Washington, D.C., for almost three years as a legislative aide to then-U.S. Dist. 2 Congressman Steve Pearce.
“Having worked for Steve, I watched how hard he had to work to keep this district and how dedicated he was to the job and to the people of New Mexico,” Chase said. “I learned a lot from him including how to fight for New Mexico. I was so lucky to have him as a mentor.”
She met Chance Chase of the Mack Energy Corporation of Artesia and the two eventually moved back to Roswell and got married. She then served as Pearce’s deputy district director for the southeastern and eastern side of New Mexico before going to work for Mack Energy.
Currently Chase is the Director of Government Affairs for Mack Energy Corporation. The company is one of New Mexico’s leading private energy companies, employing nearly 1,000 people across the company and affiliates. From 2017-18, she served as president of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico. She was then elected as the first woman and youngest chair of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association in October 2018. She held that position until recently.
Chase enters a Republican primary race that includes Herrell, of Alamogordo, and Chris Mathys of Las Cruces. The winner of the June primary will face Torres Small in November 2020. Chase’s reasoning for entering the race is her belief that a new brand of leadership is needed.
“I think career politicians have failed New Mexico,” Chase said. “I think we saw that in the last (election) cycle. With my background as a business woman, as a mom and as a conservative, I feel like I can add something to the race that is missing, and I believe that is leadership.”
While she brings a vast oil and gas knowledge to the race, Chase also cares about the lack of childhood care New Mexico has.
“New Mexico ranks 50th in childhood education and 50th in childhood well-being,” she said. “As a mother, that is a scary. We want to be able to provide the best for our kids and New Mexico is just not doing that right now. I think New Mexico is sitting on the greatest opportunity it has ever had within the Permian Basin. We have elected a number of officials who don’t recognize that opportunity in a way they should. If we want to get New Mexico off the bottom of all these lists, I think capitalizing on these opportunities is incredibly important. And anything I can do to support that from (Washington) D.C., I intend to do that.”
Chase talked about the need for elected officials to be more supportive of the oil and gas industry and how that is possible while still promoting other areas of industry growth in solar and wind.
“Driving from Albuquerque the other day there were two semi trucks pulling propellers for a wind turbine,” Chase said. “Without oil and gas those propellers don’t get to their destination because fuel is needed for those trucks and the asphalt comes from oil and gas as well. We need oil and gas, not only in our community, in our state or in our country, but we can do so much globally with natural gas. It is definitely the cleaner burning fossil fuel. We have the opportunity to export it now. I think there are a lot of opportunities to be supportive of this industry and help it grow, while also a helping the other initiatives, like wind and solar, just as much. It’s all about balance.”