Retake Our Democracy’s Mid-Term Election Strategy: Part II: The Roundhouse

Time to play offense. Part II of our election strategy focuses on 9 winnable House races. Win even half of these races and we significantly strengthen our hold on the Roundhouse and good bills will become laws, not get stuck in committee.A few Odds & Ends before we present Part II of our Mid-Term Election Guide.

Reaction to Part I: Retake Our Democracy’s Mid-Term Election Strategy & Guide: I received many notes indicating that Part I of the Guide was a useful tool. Two examples illustrate what I hope is the outcome for this effort.  From Virginia Mudd:  “Wow! Thank you so much for this. It’s something I can pass on to my own list of folks. Such helpful work!!!  My partner and my engagement and activism takes the form of my website, newsletter and mailings. I’ve sited your work a couple of times in past newsletters. The October issue will focus on the midterms so your latest post, and the link to SwingLeft, is a great addition.” Virginia.

The impact of the Guide and its potential for influencing key elections is entirely dependent upon the degree to which the guide is circulated and used. It exists in two parts, with Part I published Wednesday, and Part II published this morning. However the combined strategy resides on our website under the Resources menus. Click here to review it and share it on Facebook or send it to a group of friends.  The situation is dire, no doubt, our country is in a serious crisis, but if many of you work in groups and get active in the mid-terms we can begin the process of reversing course.

The second reaction was from my son, Jesse, who lives in Santa Cruz, California. I sent him the link to Swing Left and after going over it, he used the tool to identify a swing district in Modesto where he will be working on a short term assignment. He is going to take a few extra days and canvass the district. A small individual step, but he will share his experience on his Facebook page where he has a large network of friends who are socially conscious and active but many of whom are not active in the partisan election process. Who knows where that goes? It is just a matter of using this tool as a stimulus to your individual and hopefully collective action.

  • Get a group of friends together, pick a campaign in NM or through Swing Left, elsewhere and get started;
  • Share the full guide (link above) on your Facebook page with a comment asking friends to join you in getting to work;
  • If you are part of a group like DSA, Indivisible or some form of interfaith or labor group, bring it to their attention.
  • Use Swing Left to identify swing districts near places you have lived or where you have relatives and send that information to your friends in those communities, with encouragement to canvass, call and/or contribute.
  • If you live in Santa Fe, attend one of the House Parties for two Democratic House candidates in key districts in Four Corners and in Southern NM (see below).

Lots you can do. Let’s do it.

Retake Our Democracy, the radio show, 8:30am, Saturday (today) on KSFR 101.1 FM.  This week, I interview Maria Perez of FairVote, NM and Heather Ferguson, the new Executive Director of Common Cause, NM. It was a packed show discussing a wide range of election reform topics. Check it out. Next week Heather returns to do a deep dive of Common Cause, NM’s 2019 legislative agenda.


Obama Blasts Trump.  In a wide ranging criticism of the Trump (mis)administration and the GOP, Obama indicated that he is now in the game for the mid-term election campaign. I share just one of his gems that made me laugh out loud:  “We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination,” he said. “And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?” I sure hope he stays in the game as the Dems. could use some high stature leadership other than the likes of Shumer and Pelosi.

Honor Kathy Sanchez:  Donate to Tewa.  During the month of September, TEWA Women United is celebrating the birthday of one of their beloveds, Elder Kathy Sanchez! Retake Our Democracy hopes you will pay tribute to her heroic life by making a contribution in her honor.
Elder Kathy (Wan Povi), from San Ildefonso Pueblo, is a founding member of Tewa Women United, former executive director of the organization, and now serves as elder and program manager for our Environmental Health and Justice Program. She is also a member of TWU’s SaYain / Circle of Grandmothers.  Elder Kathy has dedicated her life to working on culture, the environment, and social change. September 1 was her birthday!
Lastly, the Retake Facebook page has not been as active of late with few posts to draw you there. Roxanne and I are committed to making 3-4 posts a day with articles on issues that don’t make it into the blog. Check it out. Click the FB icon on the right to visit the site. Take a look and let’s revitalize this with some comments and back and forth.

Retake Our Democracy 2018 General Election Strategy

Retake Our Democracy has developed a 2018 General Election Strategy that is designed to make it easier for New Mexicans to target their time and donations strategically. Our strategy is not to pick 3-4 races and then coordinate canvassing and calling, but rather to do the research on national, statewide and local races, identify key, high impact races where an infusion of canvassing, calling and contributions could make a significant difference in races that are highly competitive. During the primary election, Retake used this strategy and focused on defeating Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo in House races and in defeating Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones in Public Regulation Commission races. Mission accomplished, as all four candidates were defeated.

We are reporting on our General Election strategy in two successive posts.  The first was posted on Wednesday and covered National and Statewide races, including a discussion of Swing Left and how you can become involved and support swing races anywhere in the nation.

2018 General Election Strategy: PT. II The Roundhouse

Today’s post presents 9 crucial NM Roundhouse races, with a focus on races where there is a real opportunity for Democrats to elect not just Democrats in previously GOP-held districts, but progressive Democrats. In most of these races, we have been told that these races are very winnable….with an active volunteer and/or donor base.

In 2017, fresh from having retaken the NM House of Representatives, Retake and others advocated strongly at the Roundhouse with expectations that many progressive bills would finally emerge from committees, get floor votes and move to the Governor’s desk. We were sorely disappointed. Our Roundhouse Advocacy Team met for a full year and worked with advocacy groups like Common Cause, CVNM, Sierra Club, New Mexico Voices for Children, ACLU and Prosperity Works. We were told two things.

  1. We need better legislators, leaders who will carry the ball for progressive legislation; and
  2. Local voters must lobby their legislators year-round to advocate for the bills most important to them.

As a result of this input, Retake Our Democracy developed two NM-wide strategies, a legislative strategy, click here to find out more about that and to take the survey on an array of priority 2019 bills identified in collaboration with our partners.

We also have an election strategy where we have focused support on key races to try to create a more responsive legislature and state government. During the primaries, our primary goals were to replace Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo in the House and to defeat Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones in the Public Regulation Commission. Mission accomplished.

For the general election, we have worked with the NM House Democratic campaign operation to identify key races where an infusion of canvassing, calling or contributions could put a key candidate over the top. The list below is not a list of the 6-8 best candidates for the legislature. There are other very good candidates who look to be well organized, well-funded and primed to win and others who, even with more support, would have a very tough path to victory. We must be realistic. It isn’t as if our outreach is going to turn out hundreds of volunteers each week. So, we want to hone our list to races that are relatively near to areas where we have a base of support and where the races are close and your involvement could bring home a win.

You may have already identified a candidate or two who you plan to support and even if that candidate has not made our list, we encourage you to be involved. But if you are looking for how best to use your time and financial resources to advance equity and justice at a state level, read on.

I don’t want to overplay this, but many of us have marched, we have petitioned, we have called. We have a national government out of touch with reality and us. But here in NM, we have a real opportunity to take a firm grip on our future. But we absolutely need some of you to get out of your comfort zones and write checks, make calls and most of all, to canvass. Without question in most every district what is most needed is YOU–to devote a few weeknights or weekends to door-knocking. And before you think, “That just isn’t my thing,” I want to ask you is watching the Health Security Act, early childhood funding, and commitments to renewables going down in flames your thing? Likely not.

Once you take the leap and knock on a few doors, canvassing is absolutely addictive. You have tremendous conversations with people much like you and most importantly, you can motivate people to vote and to get engaged. Wednesday’s post included a short video from Swing Left with testimonials from folks who had never canvassed before. A link to the video can be found on our Facebook page. So, let’s do this.

Northern New Mexico

Dist. 43. Los Alamos. Open seat to replace Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richards in a traditionally swing district that is trending more Democratic.

Dem. Chris Chandler. Chandler, an attorney and county councilor who has long engaged in community and philanthropic work, is running a very strong field campaign. However, like many down-ballot candidates in an election cycle dominated by statewide and congressional races, she is experiencing significant fundraising challenges. One way to help would be to make calls encouraging Democrats to attend her events and house parties. To reach her campaign, click here.

GOP.  Lisa Shin. Shin is an ultra conservative GOP, far out of alignment with her community. She was head of Korean Americans for Trump, has had her photo taken with Steve Bannon, and proudly waves a “lock her up” sign.

Dist. 50.  Eldorado, Madrid, La Cienega, Cerrillos,  

Dem.  Matthew McQueen.  The biggest challenge McQueen faces is in running against a candidate who is Independent, self-funded and enjoys support from folks who are advocating for Open Primaries. McQueen is a solid, very accessible candidate who actually listens to constituents and should be retained. More than anything, they need field help, volunteers to canvass and call and he has a good team coordinating that effort. It would be good to get some of those who canvassed for Yazzie to renew their efforts canvassing in La Cienega, Madrid and Eldorado. Click here to contribute to his campaign or if you’d like to call or knock on doors (yes) contact Wendy Pomeroy Field Director at (505) 690-4887,

Independent.  Jarratt Applewhite.  Applewhite is wealthy, and his campaign appears to be largely self-funded.  He’s focused almost exclusively on open primaries, to the detriment of any substantive information about his other policy positions.  Because there is no Republican in the race, Applewhite poses more of a challenge to McQueen than would otherwise be the case.

Dist. 46. Northern Santa Fe, Nambe, Pojoaque, Española Valley.

Dem. Andrea Romero.  In a most instances, this race would not be on this list, as Romero is challenged only be a write-in candidate. But persistent and strangely biased media coverage of the Regional Coalition audit has been unrelenting.  So, we do not want to take any chances. The media and social media bias has been covered in the Retake blog and on the radio. Perhaps the most important thing anyone can do to support her campaign is to circulate links to a Retake blog that provided more balanced coverage of the audit and unallowable expenditures and the reasons to support Romero. Click here to reach her campaign.


Albuquerque is where there are four races where, with a bit of canvassing, calling and contributing, we could take four seats from the GOP moving from a narrow 38-32 majority to a 42-28 majority where a few defections by Democrats can be overcome and where committees won’t be tied or split 6-5. This will make passing progressive legislation far easier.  Plus the districts are all in and around ABQ and there are some mighty fine Democrats to support.

Dist. 15.  North Valley, Northeast Heights. Open seat to replace Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes in a swing district that tilts Democratic.

Dem. Dayan ‘Day’ Hochman-Vigil.  Day is a strong progressive, and her campaign needs both volunteers and contributions.  Although she’s a new candidate and her opponent (Brad Winter) is very well-known, the race is close and she could easily defeat him with some help. This is a major pick up opportunity in a seat we should be able to hold in future cycles.  Click here to get in contact with her campaign.

GOP. Brad Winter.  As a two-decade city councilor, and former interim Secretary of State, Winter is perhaps the best known of the GOP newcomers and he is well funded. But he is also about as unfriendly to labor as you can get. As a City Councilor in ABQ he consistently voted against any increase in the minimum wage. He also ran for Mayor in 2005. There is a reason he didn’t win that race: he campaigned on his opposition to any increases to the minimum wage. Want more? Winter is consistently pro-life, pro-concealed carry, and just loves voter ID laws. Go Day!

Dist. 28.  Northeast Heights.

Dem. Melanie Ann Stansbury.  Melanie is a water policy and natural resources expert, who served the Senate Energy Committee and in Obama’s Office of Management and Budget.  She is a great candidate, who is working hard with a great network of volunteers, but she can always use more!  She has been an effective fundraiser, which is critical in a Republican-leaning seat. HRC won this district by 1.2%, and the House race is very tight. Click here to contact her campaign.

GOP. Jimmie Hall is not the worst GOP legislator, although a 30% CVNM lifetime rating, hardly inspiring. He has a long list of terrible votes: favors killing coyotes for fun (HB 316), consistently votes for corporate tax cuts and giveaways, while opposing funding increases for behavioral health, teachers, Medicaid, veterans. He has never really faced any serious competition, but he is now and the race is close.

Dist. 20. Southeast ABQ, Four Hills

Dem. Abbas Akhil. Akhil was a post-primary ballot replacement, so he got a later start than most other candidates. But he is such a personable candidate that he is turning heads. A retired scientist from Sandia Labs, Abbas specializes in renewable energy storage and is a solid progressive. When people hear his message, he is very compelling. This is a great pickup opportunity, and Abbas would provide strong leadership. He needs grassroots donors, as well as volunteers to walk his district. Click here for more information on his campaign.

GOP.  Jim Dines. Lifetime 31% rating by Conservation Voters of NM.  He also has a long list of bad votes, but suffice to say in 2017 he received a 97% rating from the NRA, 100% from the NM Association of Commerce & Industry, voted to require parent notification before a teenager could obtain an abortion and voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Ugh.

Dist 68. Northwest ABQ

Dem.  Karen Bash is working extremely hard, is unabashedly progressive, and a retired minister. She doesn’t have a robust network of volunteers to knock on doors, but by herself she has knocked on over 4000 doors.  With a couple handfuls of door knockers, we can win this race and free Youngblood to focus on her DUI defense. Click here to reach Karen’s campaign.

GOP. Monica Youngblood. Youngblood has been one of the Roundhouse’s most hostile legislators when it comes to criminal justice and climate. She never met a death penalty she doesn’t embrace. 20% Lifetime rating from Conservation Voters of NM. Her DUI was bad enough, but her embarrassing effort to use her stature as a legislator to try to convince the officer to let her off, is not exactly the kind of video you want circulating and there are multiple versions available on YouTube.

Southern & Far Northern NM

Why canvassing is tough in Southern NM

As if it were not enough to have opportunities to take four seats in ABQ, there are two real opportunities to win seats in Southern NM and in the Four Corners. In both of these races, canvassing is difficult to virtually impossible, and even phone banking is a challenge, as phone numbers are unavailable and/or change often. Given that both communities are very poor, fundraising is the most significant challenge. Santa Fe will be hosting ‘meet and greet’ fundraisers for the candidates from Northern and Southern NM in September. Details below and I really encourage you to attend one or both.

Urban and suburban districts are more likely to draw attention and engagement, but these rural communities are really suffering with right wing GOP representatives who don’t care about serving or investing in their communities. The impacts of these elections—if we’re successful in winning them—are likely to have more ‘real world’ impacts on families’ daily lives.

So, the best way to support either of these Democratic candidates is by providing donations to purchase radio and digital ads. Your donation need not be huge. In these districts, a $25 or $50 donation can go a very long way as campaign budgets are 25-50% of those in hotly-contested ABQ and Santa Fe races. Coupled with wins in the four races in ABQ, we could wind up with a 44-26 House split in 2019.

Dist. 4.  Four Corners

Dem. Anthony Allison. Anthony Allison is a former union member who spent his career in the coal mines and as a supervisor for BHP; yet he wants to transition to renewable energy, and ease the impact of that shift on workers in the fossil fuel industry. He’s a co-founder of the Navajo Voters Coalition, and he enjoys strong labor support. His position is that the mines and power plants are going to inevitably close, so if we don’t begin to develop a comprehensive transition plan that protects workers and communities, we are losing valuable time and Four Corners will wind up being a sacrifice zone. He is campaigning on a platform of keeping transition and clean up jobs local and paying good wages. Click here to reach Anthony’s Facebook page.

GOP.  Clahchischilliage. In 2016, she won by less than 800 votes against a different challenger. Her 21% CVNM rating is close to the worst in the House and she is a strong advocate for coal at any cost, resisting efforts to plan for a just transition to renewables.

Want to support Allison’s campaign:

Meet Anthony Allison in Santa Fe, Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, at the home of Inaugural Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and UNM Professor Emerita Luci Tapahonso, 26 West Saddleback Mesa Santa Fe, NM 87508. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.  Suggested Contributions:
Host: $500 ~ Co-Host: $250 ~ Guest: $100 ~ Friend: $50 ~ Grassroots: $25
RSVP to Gabrielle Schultz at or 505-570-5857.

House Dist. 53.  Chaparral, Las Cruces, Alamogordo.  Canvassing this district is very difficult, but the campaign is highly motivated, and working hard on field—especially in Chaparral. Phone contact is almost impossible, and although some mail is valuable, it isn’t the critical tool that is so important in other districts.

Dem. Willie Madrid. Willie is an educator and football coach. He was a late ballot replacement in 2016, but even with the late start, he only lost by 138 votes. He is working very hard and is a solid Democrat. This district will likely be the lowest turnout in the state; in the 2014 midterms, the turnout was a mere 28%. As a result, a few votes can make the entire difference in this race. So, your donations will have a huge impact, and we encourage you to contribute. Willie will be in Santa Fe and ABQ for fundraisers on Sept 22 click here for details on Santa Fe, and click here for details about the ABQ event. Click here to get to Willie’s campaign Facebook page.

GOP. Ricky Little. This guy really needs to go. He literally says things like “I don’t understand why we teach theories like evolution or climate change.” He is perhaps the single most out of touch legislator in the Roundhouse. His lifetime CVNM rating is 27%.  And he can be beaten.

Meet Willie Madrid in Santa Fe, Saturday, September 22nd 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the home of
Richard Ellenberg and Margaret Wood, 1714 Canyon Road Santa Fe, NM 87501. Appetizers and refreshments will be served. Suggested Contributions: Host: $250 ~ Guest: $100 ~ Friend: $50 ~ Grassroots: $25.  RSVP to Gabrielle Schultz at or 505-570-5857.
Contributions can also be made online at or mailed to: Elect Willie Madrid for State Representative,108 Hendrich Rd, Chaparral, NM 88081.



Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Local-State Government & Legislation

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2 replies

  1. Paul,

    One you may have missed is a fundraiser for Christine Chandler this Sunday Sept. 9th in Santa Fe.

    When: Sunday, September 9th from 4-6PM
    Where: Home of Val Alonzo & Kirt Kempter, 910 Calle Arco in Santa Fe
    RSVP to:

  2. We have two competitive races down south where we need help as well. Dist 39 incumbent (D) Rudy Martinez won two years ago but lost 4 years ago. Rudy has been an excellent advocate for the Health Security Act and for sensible water policy (read: opposing the Gila Diversion Project). District 39 challenger Karen Whitlock faces a tough campaign against freshman legislator Rebecca Dow. Karen is an educator and social worker who is solid on progressive issues. If you can help please contact me!

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