Reflections on today’s election and some real concerns about our campaign finance laws that allow huge infusions of dark, outside money and local corporate money to flood our mail boxes with deceiving mailers.
First and foremost today, if you haven’t already, please vote.
Perhaps the most important is the vote to decide who will manage NM’s energy future, with two critical PRC races. Retake has many supporters in Dists. 4 and 5 and we certainly hope you will vote for Janene Yazzie or Steve Fischmann. The results of those races will be huge.
There are also a raft of statewide races that will determine our choices in November when we select our next Governor, Lt. Governor, Auditor, and Land Commissioner. We are only supporting one candidate in those races, Bill McCamley for State Auditor. To us, he was clearly the first choice, a man of integrity who has represented his district in the Roundhouse very well.
There are also two local Roundhouse House District races (Dist. 41 and 46) with campaigns between two incumbents funded by gas and oil and pitted against two solid progressive challengers. Those of you in 41 and 46, we hope you will vote to elect Susan Herrera (41) and Andrea Romero (46). We feel the election of these challengers will make passage of good progressive bills far easier, by removing two Democrats who vote with the GOP far too often and who are masters at manipulating the committee process to deep-six good bills that their corporate funders oppose. And then there are important local races for judges, county commission and sheriff.
Some have asked why Retake Our Democracy didn’t publish a voters guide with recommendations in all these races or why we hadn’t voiced our support for one or another candidate for Governor or Land Commissioner early in the race. All we can say is that Retake’s primary goal is to engage, educate and activate in relation to issues and bills we feel will advance social, racial, economic, gender and environmental justice. Our primary purpose is not to weigh in on every primary race. We did not take a position on the Mayor’s race, any of the city council races in March, or in any State race except the State Auditor.
In supporting Andrea Romero (Dist. 46) and Susan Herrera (Dist. 41) we discovered just how contentious and personal primary races can be. And how much time is required to do due diligence to the races. What we had not anticipated was the degree to which advocates for candidates we oppose would push back, sometimes with valid points, other times with scurrilous assertions, all of which required time to consider and either accept or rebut. And then there is the level of acrimony that accrues from simply taking a stand in opposition to one candidate or another. The result is that people who likely agree on 75-90% of the issues find themselves feeling abused by the process and each other. Those wounds will be hard to heal and, in truth, we need each other. It is hard to imagine how much healing would be needed had we taken positions in all the races.
In short, please make sure you vote today and maybe call a few friends or if you have an e-list, send out a note encouraging people to vote. And if you have a favorite candidate or two, toss them a plug. And then on Wednesday, let’s start the hard work of unifying and supporting those candidates who emerge. We simply can not afford divisions from primary battles to allow Steve Pearce to become Governor, or whoever emerges as the GOP candidates in House Districts 1 and 2 to represent us in Washington. If we learned nothing else in Nov 2016, there is a big difference between the lesser of two evils and the evil itself.
A Democracy In Peril
The last few days I’ve been working to defend Retake Our Democracy against an Ethics Complaint raised by a supposedly progressive California-based organization that claimed we had failed to report our immense contributions to campaigns we are supporting. Never mind that the total cash contributed is less than $200. This is trivial next to the very real ‘contributions’ to campaign dialog that are deluging the airwaves and mail boxes from the corporatocracy.
While working on our response to the Ethics Complaint, I read several reports of perfectly legal campaign practices. Things like:
- PNM contributing $440,000 to PACs that are entirely funding hit pieces on behalf of two PRC incumbents. What’s more Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones smear campaigns are being run by none other than Republican Strategist Jay McCleskey, Gov Martinez’ notorious strategist and confident…and these two Commissioners have the audacity to continue to make decisions of tremendous financial import to PNM while accepting such huge amounts of support to produce hit ads against honest, trustworthy opponents–utterly shameless.
- Chevron and Mack Energy contributing almost $300K to NM Strong, a conservative PAC that is now spending that money on hit ads on behalf of Debbie Rodella, Carl Trujillo, and George Muñoz (Land Commissioner).
It makes it so much easier for PNM to advance greedy, climate crushing energy plans if you know that the Commissioners you selected and for whom you purchased their re-election will vote 3-2 in your favor no matter what kind of fictitious claims you make. This is democracy? Really?
It also makes it easier for two of the major blockades for progressive legislation in the Roundhouse—Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo—to be re-elected when they have corporate partners from Chevron and Mack Energy paying for hit ads that attack their worthy opponents with misleading claims in last minute mailers. If they can fool their constituents, then they can continue to do industry’s bidding at the expense of their constituents. There is a reason, Debbie Rodella gets an A+ NRA rating and why Carl Trujillo is endorsed by the Association of Commerce and Industry and a pro-life alliance, while their opponents are endorsed by unions, pueblos, Planned Parenthood and Conservation Voters of NM.
And yet, all this Dark Money is perfectly legal, perfectly democratic and Retake Our Democracy is having to file a response to an Ethics Complaint because we bought pizza for a house party for Yazzie and Fischmann and have published blogs encouraging our followers to become engaged and active. We will be filing our response to the Complaint in the next few days and expect to be fully exonerated with the only damage done being one lost night’s sleep, many hours of compiling data, and several hundred dollars in legal feels. But is this what campaign disclosure laws are intended to do: allow wanton huge contributions to taint our elections and fill our mailboxes with lies and deceptions while discouraging volunteer-based grassroots activism that tries to counter that influence with blogs that are issues-focused?
If you feel it is crazy that PNM, Chevron and Mack Energy can unscrupulously pervert out democratic process while little old us has to pony up scarce resources for attorney fees, we’d sure appreciate your contribution.
That’s it for today. Wednesday is not a day I typically blog, but with this much at stake, I don’t see how I can not. We’ll see. But whatever you do today.
VOTE!!! Then Pray
Paul & Roxanne