A Democrat framing himself as a moderate in New Mexico’s oil-rich 2nd Congressional District deleted tweets where he labeled the state’s lucrative energy industry “extremely toxic.”
According to CNN, which broke the story on Friday, Gabe Vasquez, a former city councilman for Las Cruces near White Sands National Park, deleted a range of left-wing social media posts as he seeks to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Yvette Herrell. The contest is rated as one of 31 toss-ups by the Cook Political Report.
“I see conservation as the wise use of natural resources — industrial scale renewable energy production to me, is a viable path forward to replace the extremely toxic fossil fuel industry,” Vasquez wrote in a since-deleted tweet from November 2020. “I admit it has significant impacts on lands, but think it’s a step in the right direction.”
New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District covers the southern half of the state, including its share of the Permian Basin. The basin is one of the nation’s most productive oil and gas fields, contributing billions to the state economy. President Joe Biden’s cascade of taxes and regulations bearing down on the industry, however, has sent operators in New Mexico, where a third of the state is under federal jurisdiction, to Texas, where the federal government oversees less than 2 percent. Overwhelming federal ownership makes the district’s congressional representative all the more important in navigating constituents’ myriad of public lands issues.
“To my fellow Dems, let’s avoid playing to the R’s talking points & playing on their field!” Vasquez wrote. “It’s OK to oppose fracking, OK to support the Green New Deal, OK to support Medicare for all, OK to talk about progressive immigration reform, OK to stand for what you believe.”
Vasquez did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiry about whether the Democrat nominee to represent one of the most oil-rich districts in the nation now supports the Green New Deal.
“Investing in oil and gas is irresponsible,” Vasquez wrote in another deleted tweet from January of last year.
Vasquez now claims to be a champion of the oil and gas industry while he’s running for Congress. “I think the oil and gas industry is incredibly important to New Mexico,” Vasquez told a local paper this summer. “It’s incredibly important to this district, and I think it supports an economy that’s not only based on fossil fuel extraction, but it’s also based on the small businesses that support this industry.”
“For Gabe Vasquez to try and hide his radical views is right out of the Joe Biden playbook,” Larry Behrens, the communications director for the energy nonprofit Power the Future told The Federalist.
At a Wednesday press conference, Biden claimed, “My administration has not stopped or slowed U.S. oil production.” According to The Wall Street Journal, however, federal oil and gas leases have dropped to their lowest levels since the end of World War II under this administration.
“We all witnessed Joe Biden play the role of moderate when he ran for office only to declare war on American energy the minute he was sworn in, Gabe Vasquez would be no different,” Behrens said. “New Mexicans deserve to know that Mr. Vasquez supports the extreme Green New Deal which would cost each family over $72,000 in the first year alone. New Mexicans can’t afford Gabe Vasquez’s radical positions so it’s no wonder is trying to hide them.”
According to a joint study with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, Power the Future found that the Green New Deal would cost New Mexican families nearly $75,000 in a single year. The study was published in the summer of 2019 before inflation began to skyrocket at a record pace under Biden.
Not Just Oil. Vasquez Cheered Defund Police Movement
Vasquez’s apparent 180 since launching his run for the House of Representatives is not limited to a reversal on the promotion of the district’s primary resource. After the death of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, Vasquez championed calls to “defund police.”
In a local television interview outside a police station, a masked Vasquez wearing sunglasses and a ballcap told a reporter, “We need serious police reform in this country. It’s not just about defunding the police, it’s about defunding a system that privileges white people over everybody else.”
Vasquez also deleted a tweet from May 2020 in which he tried to justify riots destroying cities.
“The tip of the spear of a white supremacists system ends in state sanctioned, cold-blooded murder of black individuals,” Vasquez wrote. “There is so much to undo, to unravel this system & shift power structures to fundamentally change this country. That’s why the cars and buildings are burning.”
In a statement to The Federalist, Alex Kuehler, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, called Vasquez a “far-left progressive who would be devastating for New Mexico’s oil and gas industry, supports defunding the police, and won’t secure our border.”
“Gabe Vasquez loves to hide his true identity, but New Mexico voters won’t be duped by his fake moderate rebrand,” Kuehler said.