What the Wins Mean

With a day to reflect, today we consider what the primary results mean, what is now possible, and the message it conveys to conservatives, progressives, and those in the middle. One thing is for sure: this is just the beginning.

In the right column below you will find information about our next Zoominar on Tuesday, a most revealing view of how PNM has run circles around the legislature and a now-handcuffed PRC. We’ve been part of a PNM shareholder activist group for several years, and they are committed, informed, and fierce. We also have info about a few other important online experiences, including one film airing free today only, a film focusing on how the industrial meat production industry is destroying small grazing operations, the earth, and our diets. For what? By now you should be able to instantly bark the reason: “obscene profits.”

What the Wins Meant to Me

As I noted in Wednesday’s post, on Tuesday night, Roxanne and I went to bed at 10, hoping for one or two wins, as the early results were not promising. We woke up to very possibly the greatest progressive victory in NM history. We’ve been smiling ever since. I have said to myself at least 100 times, some version of “I can’t believe it.”

I realized that as happiness and hope filled me in a very physical way, that for three months those feelings had been largely absent. In isolation, our news has been an onslaught of death, murder, bigotry, and a terrifying lack of national leadership. Amidst all that, if by chance, for a fleeting moment, you felt blessed or happy, you almost felt guilty about it. As if we don’t deserve joy.

But as the joy washed over me, I realized that by working together even in this remote, Zoom way, we can do so much. This statewide movement of so many incredible organizations and people has come together and offered this great state an opportunity to fundamentally change. The 2021 session could be transformational.

And we are not alone, as this morning the Intercept published “Left For Dead, Insurgent Candidates Scored Big Victories in Down-Ballot Elections.” The first sentence begins, “From New Mexico to Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C.” Yes, NM is part of a national movement. Click here to read the Intercept‘s inspiring piece. This is happening across the country and it tells me one thing: we thirst for hope and joy. We deserve it. And we are not alone.

Keep this feeling in your head and more importantly, in your heart. We are part of something big, something important, and with your work, something we can make inevitable.

Over the coming weeks, we will be asking you to become engaged in an even bigger challenge than winning five state Senate primaries. We need to oust a tyrant while sustaining campaigns throughout the state.

Retake will be offering a range of ways that each of you can make a difference in the state and national campaigns. We want to have this same feeling when we wake up on Nov. 4: a US Senate fixed, a NM state Senate fixed, and a tyrant deposed. For now, let’s take a look at what just happened in NM.

What Didn’t Happen in the Primary

First, what didn’t happen. While we have taken the first step and done a remarkable job of ousting five state Senate DINO fixtures, we didn’t Fix the Senate. That was the impulse headline on Wednesday morning and I’ve seen it in other publications across the state. But, in truth, the Senate hasn’t been transformed one bit. Not yet.

What has happened is progressives have earned the opportunity to Fix the Senate and to throw the doors open to previously unimaginable possibilities in 2021. But as we earned the primary wins, we must earn even tougher wins in November. So once we take a few days to reflect, we will need to reconvene and recommit because we won’t have this opportunity again for at least four years, and with ice caps melting and seas rising, with COVID ever-menacing, and with racism surfacing and resurfacing repeatedly, four years is a very long time.

What Did Happen?

Five corporate Democrats were ousted from the NM State Senate, and aside from Ramos, who was only appointed to his seat two years ago, all have been stalwart members of a DINO-GOP coalition that has throttled far too many bills.

More than that, they have throttled the imagination of progressives and of legislators who ran for office to create change. If you are a legislator or an advocacy organization like Common Cause or Conservation Voters New Mexico, you know that any bill you introduce must ultimately be approved by Senators Papen, Smith, Sanchez, Martinez, and Ramos. You wind up cutting out the heart of your bill, the part that would create meaningful change, the reason you ran for office or became an advocate in the first place.

As a new legislator, you are told by leadership to be patient, that NM is different, that a great idea can take three or four sessions before it is seriously considered. And so your imagination and your original inspiration for running for office atrophies. Over time, you become accustomed to how things are done and pass that understanding on to the next generation of legislators.

Right now there are a two dozen legislators, mostly in the House, who were elected in the blue waves of 2016 and 2018. They are beaming right now. If we do our job this summer, 2021 will yield incredible results. So, while none of this has been accomplished, we’ve opened a door.

What Do the Results Mean?

Most importantly, we proved that even with absurd COVID-caused constraints eliminating face-to-face campaigning and with hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed by gas and oil, right wing PACs, and other industries, a grassroots message focused on change can win.

It proved that what we had been told for decades, that these DINOs were only representing the values and priorities of constituents in their districts, is simply not true. It proved that if you talk about issues that matter to people and you believe you can win, you can prevail.

One of the many comments we received in the past 48 hours came from Diana Tittle, one of the leaders of Indivisible in Truth Or Consequences. When Roxanne and I first visited her group some 18 months ago, she told us flat out: “We are a blue dot in a sea of red, and John Arthur Smith just can’t be beaten down here.”

A year later, I returned to T or C with Eric Shimamoto, who lead off by showing the video Fix the Senate. (If you haven’t seen it, take a look below, as it will explain why what just happened is so important). It set the plate for my talk about how we have no choice but to Fix that Senate if we ever want to achieve anything like social, economic, and climate justice in NM, and that we actually could do this if people got engaged, and that it starts in Truth Or Consequences. Neomi Martinez-Parra spoke after our presentations and made it clear that they had a champion to fight for.

Tues., June 9, 6:30- 8:00 pm: How PNM Runs Circles Around Our Legislature and PRC, and How A Group of Local Shareholder Activists Are Exposing PNM’s Dissembling.

Five years ago a group of local activists purchased shares in PNM stock and formed PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future

Every year since then, the group has introduced resolutions at the PNM Annual Meeting to seek more transparency in PNM’s operations, decision-making processes, especially regarding fossil fuel investments, and the negative impact of those actions for ratepayers and on the environment. The resolutions were all voted down, in large part due to PNM Board opposition.

Undeterred, the group recently used the annual shareholder meeting to submit probing questions embedded with statements and facts that reflect PNM’s manipulation of the legislative process (ETA) and their misleading or false testimony at the PRC. PNM execs have gone to great lengths to suppress the activist shareholders, even moving their meetings to Texas to deter attendance.

Members of the group will share their questions from the May 12 Annual Meeting that probed how PNM crafted the ETA to escape PRC regulation of their operations at Four Corners and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. The questions also illustrate how badly PNM has handled plans for replacement power. Slides and audio recordings will illustrate how CEO Pat Vincent Collawn’s responses were refuted by PNM’s own sworn testimony at the PRC.

If you want to get clarity on what is really going on at the PRC and the truth about how PNM is running circles around our legislature and the PRC, you won’t want to miss this discussion.

In short, we will get to the truth. Click here to pre-register. You must Pre-Register to secure a “seat” in the Zoom Room.

“Right to Harm” Factory Farming = Industrial Pollution, Free until 10:30 pm today (link below)

Through the riveting stories of five rural communities, RIGHT TO HARM exposes the devastating public health impact factory farming has on many disadvantaged citizens throughout the United States.

This film chronicles the failures of state agencies to regulate industrial animal agriculture. Known formally as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – or CAFOs – these facilities produce millions of gallons of untreated waste that destroys the quality of life for nearby neighbors.

The film features agricultural economist John Ikerd, who abandoned industry beliefs after a 14-year career as a livestock marketing specialist. After the farm crisis of the 1980s he realized, “The farmers who were in the biggest trouble, were the ones doing the things we so-called experts were telling them to do.”

RIGHT TO HARM tracks the tribulations and triumphs of rural residents across America who are victims of the past 50 years of agricultural consolidation and the consequential laws that now govern the land. Fed up with the lack of regulation, these disenfranchised citizens band together to demand justice from their legislators.

Filmmakers Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher skillfully weave together five stories that span eight states from the Southwest to the Midwest to the Eastern Shore. Farmers, mothers, scientists and politicians share intimate stories of how their lives were forever changed by factory farming.

Watch the film today at this link.

Wednesday morning we got this message from Diana Tittle, emphasis mine:

“Thank you for leading the charge to take back the New Mexico Senate for the people. Your hard work and the indisputable research you mounted in support of the effort to dislodge the obstructionist DINOs has paid off with the result you convinced so many of us it was possible. Actually, I didn’t totally believe we could do it, but we have! I am so proud I contributed my little bit to the “revolution” and am personally grateful to Retake and Eric Shimamoto for paving the way for even more progressive change to come to our beautiful state.”

Diana Tittle

I share this not to boast, but to point out what is possible and what is necessary. Diana’s “little bit” was not so little. She worked with a group of others from T or C, and from what I was told by Neomi’s campaign manager, they were fierce, making hundreds of calls. We may have helped them believe it was possible, but they were the ones on the phones.

And so, I return to what this primary means. It means we can do this. It means that a small group of truly committed people can create conditions under which New Mexicans can create justice.

But, while many dozens of you made calls or sent texts and many more sent checks, there are probably many hundreds of folks who read this blog who did not. And so one of the other things these primary wins represent is a call to action for those of you who perhaps have tried canvassing or calling and just didn’t find it terribly rewarding.

What these primary wins should convey to you is it isn’t about the instant gratification of making dozens of calls for a couple of hours one afternoon and then returning to the phones the next day. It isn’t about you.

It is about all of us and our responsibility to the commons, to the earth, to our children, and to our future. And the price of hope and joy is effort, getting out of our comfort zone, and not expecting that effort will be great fun, knowing it may even sometimes be monotonous and plodding.

Roxanne sent out an Alert to our statewide network this morning. It reiterated the theme stated here: We have more to do and we need more of you. I was gratified to get an email from one of those who hasn’t made calls, who said: “I see calls and emails in my future.” May it be so for many of you.

Anyone who has made those calls will tell you, every single day you make calls you will speak with people grateful for your efforts and your calls. But that isn’t the real reward, the real reward is when the votes are counted and you realize you did your “little bit.”

Retake is going to plan a Zoom event later in June to offer hands-on training in how to support campaigns. In November there will be far more candidates needing our support: those who just won their primary; those Dems who have been working somewhat in the background, readying to take on Republicans and further strengthen our hold in the legislature; and Democratic legislators in challenging swing districts across the Nation, where the most important election of our lifetime is before us.

So, enjoy this moment, store it in your heart, and use it to motivate you to re-engage soon. On a state and national level, everything we treasure is at stake.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

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4 replies

  1. I really appreciate this post.
    As soon as I see an election go “my way”, I think that the work is just beginning. For one thing, no elected person runs on auto-pilot; we have to *work* with them while they serve in office. They need help (and sometimes, pushing, cajoling, encouraging, …).

    For another thing, the right wing won’t take this sitting down. They have shown before that they, too, can motivate people to act; we have to be ready for a counter-movement. I’m not sure how we prepare for such a thing; we’ve got to figure that out.

    Celebrate, and gird up for more (joyful) work!

  2. I want to pile on more praise for Diana Tittle. While she wasn’t whipping up votes for Neomi, she was spearheading a write in campaign for Karen Whitlock, who is now the Democratic Party nominee for State House District 38! No Democrat filed for the seat on Filing Day, so Karen’s campaign didn’t start until late March. All told, Karen got over ten times the number of write in votes she needed.

    Thank you Diana and the Sierra County Indivisibles!!!

  3. Paul, Roxanne and Rick, thank you for the much-appreciated acknowledgment of Team Sierra County. But, truth be told, Rick is the man behind the scenes who deserves full props for Karen’s amazing write-in tally. He trained the Sierra County turnout team, wrote our scripts and cut our call lists. We racked up a respectable 218 write-in votes for Karen in Sierra County. What he helped to produce in Grant County was a tsunami of write-ins, more than 1,100 by the latest count. Without his leadership and expertise, District 38 voters might have only the choice of a Tea Party-style Republican and a Libertarian for our NM House Representative. Now they can vote for a Democrat determined to bring about a better future for the average New Mexican. Assuring Karen that if she filed as an underdog write-in candidate in the primary, he would get her the requisite number of votes to be officially on the ballot in the general, Rick more than delivered on an especially difficult challenge: persuading Dems to support Karen and then go the extra mile to remember her name and execute it properly on the ballot. Nice work, my friend.

  4. So, now let’s see what we can do in making a new socio-economic base for the state and its capital city, without destroying the little left actually of the “Land of Enchantment” and the “City Different”. It will be extremely hard work shifting from our too easy dependence on carbon fuels and tourism.

    Its difficult to think of another medium to large city that relies for some 70% of its annual budget on its lodgers tax — like sucking on an opium pipe, or walking in a mine field. Tourism relies on family surplus wealth, and the fickle finger of fashion, and is a well-known high risk, or gamble, few take to the degree Santa Fe. Its past time to turn to reality.

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