NY Provides Model for Transforming NM State Senate

We have 8 NM Senators who voted NO on abortion decriminalization. But as the Report Card shows, that is the tip of the iceberg. Well, NY had 8 DINOs, too and has a model for fixing that. Read on.

In Brief

Saturday, Aug. 3 8:30-9:00am on KSFR, 101.1 FM. Retake Our Democracy with Maria Perez, Common Cause. We speak about Common Causes demand for an impeachment inquiry, what got done in the 2019 legislative session, and more. Maria is a tremendous interview, no notes, no prep. She just knows the stuff. Great show.

Saturday, August 3, 12:30-2:30pm, EarthCare and the Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. are holding a planning meeting to prepare for the September 20 General Strike. Their last meeting was jammed with people and enthusiasm. Find out how this youth-led coalition is injecting clarity and urgency into local climate crisis action. And it looks like ABQ has a youth led plan as well.

Saturday, Aug 3, 2-4pm, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard SE. The September 20th Climate Walkout is expected to be the biggest climate mobilization in history and we want everyone to be a part of it. Albuquerque’s youth are mobilizing to demand urgent and we must respond to their call to join them in the streets. Our aspiration is to turn out 3.5% of Albuquerque’s population of 500,000 which is 17,500 people and would be far and away the largest climate mobilization New Mexico has ever seen!

If at all possible, please make plans to attend this important gathering as we will finalize teams to plan the Strike on Sept. 20th and coordinate the numerous events from Sept 20th-27th. WE NEED EVERYONE! If you have lots of time or little time to contribute, there is a place for you. ABQ Climate Strike – Team Sign Up.

Retake Our Democracy Organizing Meeting to Replicate What NY Has Done (below), Tuesday, Aug 6, 6:30-8:30 at 1420 Cerrillos. All Hands On Deck Meeting to Make the NM State Senate Democratic in More Than Name.

Retake leadership has been meeting with other advocates statewide to craft a strategy to build strong bases of activism and power in the eight Senate Districts represented by Clemente Sanchez, John Arthur Smith, Mary Kay Papen, George Munoz, Gabriel Ramos, Pete Campos, Carlos Cisneros and Richard Martinez, all of whom voted NO on HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion. We launch that campaign at our September 3 meeting, but we lay the groundwork at our Aug. 6 meeting. We will be conducting research, planning outreach and organizing, and conducting media campaigns throughout those eight districts and this Tuesday we begin the necessary work to launch our campaign effectively.

We are not alone. Retake is working with activists throughout the state and, like Elizabeth Warren, we have a plan, a proven one from NY. Today’s post features an article and video on how the Working Families Party of NY launched a campaign targeting eight DINO State Senators who habitually caucused with and supported GOP efforts to derail good Democratic bills. And it worked. They did it. And in the legislative session that followed the NY election, they passed a litany of bills that had long been killed by the Senate DINOS. Now it is our turn to do the same thing here in NM. But we need many more of you. So please RSVP today and join us to make sure that in 2021 the NM State Senate is led by real Democrats, not DINOS.

Please RSVP by emailing me at paul@retakeourdemocracy.org. It makes it so much easier to prepare for the meeting if we know how many are coming.

New York Working Families Party Wins Five Senate Seats, Breaks the DINO Caucus

“Alessandra Biaggi, a 32-year-old lawyer, unseated Democratic state Sen. Jeff Klein in Thursday’s New York primary. Her campaign against Klein, a powerful seven-term incumbent who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester, didn’t get the same media attention as some of the other insurgent campaigns in the state. But her victory still rocked New York politics.

So did the victories of five other Democratic challengers who, like Biaggi, took on a group of renegade Democrats who had broken off from their party and worked with Republicans in the state Senate in exchange for leadership positions and the accompanying perks. Klein founded this group in 2011, known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). “

From Vox, Sept 14, 2018

Why is this important here in NM? Well, in NM we have an unofficial DINO caucus of eight Senators, same number as in NY. In NY, the Independent Democratic Caucus, or IDC, has caucused with the GOP for years, joining them to throttle dozens and dozens of bills each legislative session. Sound familiar?

In NM our DINO-GOP Caucus works behind the scenes to secure the votes of a handful of DINOS who then vote in solidarity with the 16 GOP state Senators to elect Mary Kay Papen to the Senate Pro-Tem position. She then appoints those DINOS to the Committees’ Committee and the committee that makes all the committee assignments. And powerful committee chair assignments are the quid pro quo for their loyal vote for Papen for Pro-Tem. This is why no bill that is good for the environment passed the Senate. This is how a strong House tax and revenue bill was whittled away in Senate Finance and Senate Corporations and Transportation, and this is how so many other bills that passed the House wound up weakened or killed in the Senate.

We are determined to change the political calculus in the NM State Senate and we have a model for how to do it: NY.

Some background from Vox on the NY situation. You will find parallels everywhere.

  • The IDC was a separate beast — it caucused with itself but formed an alliance with Republicans, effectively shoring up the GOP’s control of the state Senate.” Exactly how our DINO-GOP caucus maneuvered control of virtually all Senate Committees.
  • The state Senate then became, particularly in the view of liberal critics, the place where progressive legislation went to die. The state’s lower chamber, the Assembly, is overwhelmingly held by Democrats.” Hmmm the echoes are getting louder. Early childhood funding? Passed the house, died in the Senate. Legalized marijuana passed the House, died in the Senate. HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion, ditto. Community Solar, ditto.
  • The rise of the IDC coincided with Cuomo’s election to the governorship, and his critics had long argued he hadn’t done enough to force the rogue Democrats back into the fold or put real effort behind trying to unseat them. The thinking went that Cuomo didn’t mind having the IDC hanging around, as it gave him coverage to govern as a pragmatic, dealmaking centrist Democrat.” Our DINO-GOP Caucus has ruled the Senate for two-decades, but it is interesting how little we hear from the Governor or other Democratic Party leadership about the ongoing betrayal of Democratic priorities by the DINO-GOP Senate caucus.

So how did NY do it? They formed a #NoIDC coalition and launched a campaign targeting all eight IDC members. The video below shows the launch speeches and the parallels to NM are striking. Once they announced the coalition, suddenly the IDC and the centrist Governor got the memo and over coffee the Governor was able to dissolve the IDC and indicated that the Democratic Party would oppose any challenges to the IDC members. But that didn’t stop the #NoIDC group. They launched grassroots efforts targeting all eight Democrats and won six of the races, including the one ousting the IDC founder and leader, Jeff Klein. Their message?

“These are Democrats. They behave like Republicans and they should be voted out,” Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University, said. “And I think in this political moment, especially in national politics, that was a really powerful statement for a lot of Democratic voters.”

From Vox Sept 2018

The #NoIDC candidates won six of the eight races, defying all odds, defying Democratic Party leadership support for the incumbent IDC DINOs and creating a far more legitimately Democratic majority in the state legislature. And what was the impact?

“At the end of the day, democracy works,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-Queens. “We have had as a result the most progressive and productive session that’s ever been in New York state.”

If you are looking for parallels to NM, in NY the Reproductive Health Act, blocked for years when Republicans and their IDC colleagues controlled the State Senate, easily passed both Democratic-controlled houses in January 2019. And that was hardly all that passed. Over 20 long-stalled progressive bills sailed through the legislature and became law with the IDC DINOs out of power. Click here to review a list of 20 bills that had been stalled previously but passed in the 2019 NY legislative session. It is an impressive list

And we can do that here in NM. So please join us on Tuesday night to find out how we do it and to be part of it.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

P.S. In fairness to Democratic leadership, an awful lot did get done in the NM 2019 legislative session, no question about it. But as our Report Card makes clear, too much was left on the table. Click here to read our Report Card which provides analysis of precisely how the NM Senate DINOs-GOP caucus controls our NM legislature and what we can do about it.

Inspiring Video from NY: We Can Do This Here in NM

5 thoughts on “NY Provides Model for Transforming NM State Senate

  1. Hi Paul and Roxanne. My only question would be: In these districts, who is the horse and who is the cart? Are voters in those districts reflecting the positions of their senators, or are the senators relying on indifference and/or apathy to coast along?

    • That analysis is almost done, but in all but one of the districts there is a very strong Democratic majority in voter registration where MLG crushed Pearce, where Hillary crushed Trump and where Bernie and Hillary ran close primary races. So the DINO justification is frankly unfounded.

    • One of the DINOs said in a community meeting that he had conducted an informal telephone poll of his constituents on the topic of HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion. He said, in effect, that although he knew the respondents’ fears were based on lies about the effects of HB 51 [doctors would be forced to perform abortions against their consciences, for example], he decided to vote against HB 51 because of the respondents’ fears.
      I think he should instead have educated his constituents, not given in to their ignorance!

  2. Hello Paul and Roxanne. Would you be willing to use Zoom or Skype to hold your organizational meetings targeting our eight DINOs? Many of us would like to be involved but live too far away for SF meetings to be practical. This effort will require many of us in the hinterlands.
    Becky Mueller in Dixon.

  3. Help us get rid of Gabe Ramos- he is no Democrat and we, the majority of progressive Democrats, want him gone. We want Siah Hemphil instead.

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