Did Pearce distort his “humble beginnings” in his campaign launch?
Steve Pearce made it official on Monday. Pearce will be vacating his $174,000 congressional job in an attempt to pick up a $110,000 gig as governor.
Those salaries may not mean much to a man who has consistently ranked among the richest members of Congress, but being a rich oil executive doesn’t help you relate to voters so Pearce pointed to his parents’ humble beginnings in his campaign announcement this week.
(Hat Tip to a reader who spotted this and sent it to us!)
“Steve grew up south of Hobbs as one of six kids. His parents did everything possible to provide for him and his siblings while earning a $2.62 hourly wage. “
That makes it sound like his parents were poor working people and that they struggled to take care of their family, until you realize that this was the 1940’s and 1950s and $2.62 an hour was good money.
From 1947 to 1954 that wage would be equal to $29.65 or $61,672 (1947) in 2017 to $23.69 or $49,275 (1954) in 2017. This is a good wage for the period.
That was 1.6X greater than the average family income in 1950.
And it’s far from today’s minimum wage rates that Pearce has consistently been opposed to raising. 30% of our hourly workforce works for minimum wage and 90% of those are over the age of 20 (not an after school first job that some opponents claim) (source: nmvoices.org)
There is nothing wrong with making a good wage to provide for your family, but it is not exactly fair to make it appear that your family struggled while making way more than the average family in America at the time.
At ProgressNowNM, we’ve been tracking Pearce for some time. In fact, we’ve written about his votes, misstatements and positions more than 100 times since 2012.
Pearce like to tell the story of how a rich conservative is popular with a majority Hispanic, Democratic congressional district. Part of that narrative comes from misleading statements like this one in his announcement help him seem more relatable to voters.