For almost a year a Retake action team has been interviewing 2 dozen progressive advocacy groups, meeting with legislative leaders, and researching Roundhouse districts that could be ripe for a progressive victory. We have developed a two-prong strategy to facilitate good bills becoming law. We also include today a short video of the national launch of the Poor People’s Campaign. Read on.
Roundhouse Activism 2018-2019 and Beyond: Tired of just killing bad bills? ¡No Más!
Close your eyes and imagine April 1, 2019––bills that have died in committee for years are suddenly law: the Health Security Act, a predatory lending bill capping lending rates at 36%, a significant funding increase for K-12 education, and tax loopholes benefiting corporations and the wealthy have been closed. It can happen in 2019, and we have a plan.
Things are changing nationally and here in New Mexico. Progressives are sweeping state and local elections, and grassroots groups like OurRevolution, PDA, Working Families, Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America and Retake Our Democracy are growing everywhere. At the same time, revelations about collusion rise, offensive tweets continue, and GOP poll numbers plunge. In 2016, we Retook the Roundhouse, a huge achievement accomplished because many of the above groups collaborated, hit the pavement, and made the calls. We won six key seats, turning the New Mexico House blue. But then in the 2017 Roundhouse Session, so many good bills died. It is time for good bills to become law in NM.
For some time, Retake Our Democracy has said that the organization is about building an infrastructure, a base and a strategy for the long haul. We made a deliberate choice to focus our advocacy efforts in Santa Fe during 2017 and to build a base while working quietly behind the scenes to develop a statewide strategy. We also realized that to have the greatest possible impact, we needed to align behind those groups with a long history of advocacy in our community, so we aligned with organizations like Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Earth Care, Chainbreaker Collaborative, New Energy Economy, FairVote NM, Santa Fe Dreamers and others. With each of these organizations we followed a simple method: listen, learn and step back, take direction from their leadership and provide the support they requested. And in Santa Fe, our partners have had some big wins and we have been there to contribute to those wins. But while we were working locally, we were quietly developing plans for a statewide strategy, one that would be informed by what we were doing locally.
The statewide strategy is also a long-haul effort and nowhere is this long-haul perspective more evident than in Retake’s Roundhouse Advocacy Teams work over the past nine months. From the start we were planning for the 2019 Roundhouse session almost two years away from when we began work last February. Our Roundhouse Advocacy Team expanded and included leadership from Española Indivisible and New Mexico Resistance. Again, we did not try to lead the work, but sought the advice and guidance of those who have been working the Roundhouse for decades. Together we worked with 15-20 progressive non-profit advocacy groups like Common Cause, 350.NM, Sierra Club, Conservation Voters of New Mexico, and NM Voices for Children to develop a two-pronged statewide strategy, one focused on the Roundhouse and the 2019 session, the other on the 2018 election. We have also discussed this strategy with Democratic House and Senate leadership and they have expressed appreciation for our collaborative approach. Today, we give you a preview of what we will announce at the Jan 20 ProgressNowNM Progressive Summit: Our two-prong 2018-19 strategy to take the offensive, to pass good bills and make them law and to advance social, racial, economic and environmental justice in New Mexico.
Prong One: A 2018 Election Strategy. This strategy is still being finalized as we will work with our partners to prioritize in which of nine districts we will provide canvassing, house party and phone banking support. These nine districts are districts in which GOP House legislators won election to the Roundhouse while Hillary Clinton carried their District. We will likely target no more than six of these districts as we do not want to spread ourselves too thin. Part of the criteria for selecting which districts to support will depend on what Democrats emerge to challenge Republicans and where we feel we have the best opportunity to take a seat. The second part of our election strategy is to identify good Democrats who won narrowly in their 2016 election. Three Democrats who narrowly won their races in 2016 did so by a TOTAL of 558 votes. Given the likelihood of lower voter turnout in a midterm election, this is too close to call. Lastly, we are supporting the candidacy of Andrea Romero in her District 46 primary against incumbent Carl Trujillo. We are waiting to see whether a viable challenger emerges in one other District currently held by a less than progressive Democrat. We will keep you posted on how you can become involved in our 2018 Election Strategy. And also know that four of the six members of the Retake Leadership Team are members of the Democratic Party State Central Committee, are among the founding members of the emerging Progressive Caucus and recognize that our state and national Democratic Party are both in serious need of reform. But we also recognize that if we have a Democratic Governor and an even stronger progressive presence in the Roundhouse, we ought to expect some stunning outcome in 2019. And it is about time!
Prong Two: A 2019 Legislative Strategy. Again, with input from non-profit and legislative leaders throughout the state we have:
- Developed a 2019 Legislative Priorities Platform to vet 2018 candidates, focus Roundhouse advocacy in 2019, and hold our leadership and elected representatives accountable in 2019 and beyond, click here to review our platform—and please provide comment!;
- Developed an online survey listing our priority bills and we plan to launch that survey Jan 20th at the Progress NowNM Progressive Summit–This is unbelievably important. When this survey is published, we need ALL of you to complete it and send it to 10-20 friends and encourage them to do so. If you have friends in other parts of the state it is important you share with them. The power of this priority bill list rests ENTIRELY upon our getting thousands to express their views;
- Developed a plan for a statewide Rapid Response Network, targeting swing districts where legislators have historically been responsible for killing good bills. While this network is not in place today, we have relationships forming with leadership in a dozen distant communities. The cultivation of relationships with that leadership and the development of this network will be a high priority for our Advocacy Team during 2018; and
- Prepared to be a presence at the 2018 Roundhouse session to play defense against offensive abortion and criminal justice bills coming from the Governor, fighting the PNM Securitization bill and advocating for increased funding for programs that have been depleted by cuts over the past 8 years. If you want to be part of the 2018 and ready yourself for 2019, just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can examine our 2019 Legislative Priorities Platform by clicking here. No doubt, you will review it and go: Wait, what about SBXXX or HBXXX. We were extraordinarily rigorous about creating a list of priorities that had 1-2 bills in each issue area. This was painstakingly difficult. I can think of 20 more bills I’d like to add to our list. But if you have 100 priorities, you have no priorities. If 90% of these bills pass in 2019 we will go home happy. But if 90% pass, a bunch of other terrific bills will also pass.
So, if you want to play in the NM political process you need to be informed. It takes time to do so, but we try like hell to make it easier for you. But in the end, you need to devote a bit of time. We have identified three resources that are worth your review:
- New Mexico In Depth produced a tremendous insert to the Santa Fe New Mexican this past Sunday. It provides a good many articles about the Roundhouse 2018 session. It is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to be an informed advocate for justice. Click here to review it. I suggest saving it.
- The Democratic Party conducted extensive research into 2016 election results and produced a great summary that captures their 2018 election strategy. We used it to inform our identification of Districts in which we want to work in 2018. Click : HDCC 2018 Prospectus to get this report.
- Lastly, to review our expanded list of 2019 Legislative Priorities, click here. You will find a list of bills with descriptions for each bill that will tell you more about the bill, how it fared in committees and on the floor.
There are times when all of us get discouraged. We have a president who offends daily and a Congress with no spine, but there are signs of better times. Those times will come more quickly the sooner the discouraged become the empowered and take action. There is the emerging Poor People’s Campaign (see video below) that promises to galvanize the country. And if you are interested in getting involved in our Roundhouse Advocacy Team, please write to me directly at email@example.com. We meet twice a month and plan to be a presence at the Roundhouse over the next month and beyond.
Paul & Roxanne
The Poor People’s Campaign Launch