For the General Election, our research process is quite different from the research we do for the primaries. We interview experienced campaign managers and highly informed and active advocates to identify candidates whose campaigns could use more volunteers to win races projected to be close. Particularly in relation to state legislative races, our endorsements are intended to ensure that Democrats retain or expand majorities in both chambers and that enough progressives remain in each caucus to overcome efforts to form conservative coalitions comprised of GOP and conservative Dems.
We now have endorsements in all statewide races and all 70 NM State House districts. We are still working on endorsements for county races and will add that by late July. We have identified a number of races where you can support good progressive candidates and make a difference in this election.
We believe that when you support a candidate and/or vote, you are not necessarily choosing someone you revere (that candidate may not exist), you are choosing the political environment in which you will operate until the next election cycle. I was once asked: What is the most important factor in passing good legislation? I responded: Having a majority of progressives on every legislative committee. The same applies to city councils and county commissions.” With the right representatives voting on bills, the need for calls and emails begging for votes becomes far less necessary as, most often, you share the same values and priorities.
It isn’t necessary that you “love” everything about candidates that you work for or vote for, you just must like them more than the opposition. You should be asking yourself: From the candidates running, with an important bill in the balance, who would I want casting the deciding vote? You should consider working for that candidate.
This year, we face a daunting challenge because:
- Changed district boundaries have created many more competitive districts, and with new boundaries come new constituents who may not be familiar with their Rep.
- A well-funded, well-organized effort from corporations and at least one new corporate-funded, centrist PAC called Working Together is under way with a plan to retake control of the legislature and county commissions. Democratic Rep. Patty Lundstrom joined that effort by donating to several centrists who challenged progressive incumbents in the primary. While this effort largely failed, conservative forces will be trying to oust the Governor and any Democratic legislator deemed remotely vulnerable.
- Our own fatigue, let’s admit it — COVID, Zoom life, a tough short session, Ukraine news, Roe v Wade, and the dispiriting inaction on climate change from Dems and GOP from Washington to Santa Fe — has taken a toll. We are pooped, physically and mentally. But it’s time to get a second wind and fight for the gains we’ve made.
Retake has a history of playing a role in state and local elections. From 2016 to 2020, we joined Working Families Party, Olé, Indivisible, and other grassroots organizations to substantially change the Roundhouse’s political environment by:
- Unseating Reps. Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo, two Dems with a history of siding with Republicans in opposing progressive legislation.
- Defeating four powerful conservative Dem. Senators in the primary who were thought to be unbeatable:
- Sen. Mary Kay Papen, former Senate Pro Tempore;
- Sen. John Arthur Smith, former Chair of Senate Finance Committee;
- Sen. Richard Martinez, former Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee;
- Sen. Clemente Sanchez, former Chair of Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee (now Senate Tax, Business & Transportation). All four of the above Senators voted “no” on decriminalizing abortion.
- Strongly supporting campaigns of new Dems like Reps. Abbas Akhil, Day Hochman, Andrea Romero, and Susan Herrera, and Senators Carrie Hamblin, Siah Correa Hemphill, Harold Pope, and Katy Duhigg.
Taken together, since 2016, the House has flipped from red to blue — a pretty deep, progressive blue — and the Senate has been substantially transformed, with three powerful committee chairs and the Sen. Pro Tem all swept from office. The momentum continued in 2018 and 2020, as Democrats solidified and expanded their newly won majority in the House, from 38-32 over Republicans in 2017 to 45-24 in 2022, and with several more progressive women winning seats, we created a majority-women Dem. House caucus for the first time in our state.
With a fundamentally altered political make up, the legislature has passed some hugely important legislation in the last three sessions:
- Decriminalizing abortion, after years of failed efforts;
- Legalizing recreational cannabis;
- Capping predatory loans at 36%;
- Providing free college education for all New Mexicans;
- Advancing the Health Security Act;
- Passing a historic child tax credit that lifted thousands of New Mexican children out of poverty;
- Putting a permanent increase in early childhood education funding on the ballot this Nov.;
- Legalizing end-of-life options for those suffering with a crippling, terminal illness.
None of those bills would have passed the legislature in 2015 and many would not have passed in 2018. And none of those bills would have been signed by a GOP Governor, whether Susana Martinez or Mark Ronchetti. And the bills above are hardly superficial, symbolic wins; they have a huge impact on the lives of everyday New Mexicans. So elections matter and Retake tries to make it easier for you to decide how to vote, but even more importantly, where and how you can invest your time and resources to support good candidates.
The 2022 election offers more opportunities but poses many more risks, as corporate interests, accustomed to having their way in the Roundhouse, have seen bills they oppose sail through Roundhouse Committees and soar to the Governor’s desk. With the successful challenge of the Hydrogen Hub initiative earlier this year, the business community could see its grip on policy loosening. Did we really expect them to just lie down and admit defeat?
We are seeing clear evidence of a well-financed and well-coordinated, corporate effort to restore corporate/industry control of the legislature — many would argue that industry hold has never been lost. The ABQ Journal reported in March on the launch of Working Together, a newly formed, corporate-financed PAC committed to ousting progressive legislators:
A new political action committee says it will back moderate Democrats in a host of contested primary races this year and support the challengers taking on at least two incumbents in the state House.
The announcement comes after the Legislature grew more progressive over the past four years as challengers defeated eight Democratic incumbents.
The PAC said it will push to elect “commonsense” Democrats in races for six House seats, two statewide offices and a Bernalillo County Commission district.”
Corporate-backed centrist Dems challenged Reps. Roger Montoya, Kristina Ortez, Susan Herrera, and Andrea Romero, in addition to candidates in other parts of the state with support from the Working Together PAC. And while they came with corporate funding to boot, and lots of it, they won just one race, ousting Roger Montoya from his seat as Dist. 40 Rep.
So where does that leave us?
Hopefully, poised and ready to dig in and canvass, call, and contribute for some of the candidates identified on our 2022 General Election Endorsements page. Quite obviously, no single person can canvass and call in as many races as we have identified, but we hope many of you will use the links provided to find out more about endorsed candidates and make calls, canvass, and contribute to the extent you are able. We figure you will prioritize according to where you live and what issues and candidates are most important to you, but we tried to make that easier for you.
Over the next months, we will issue a few calls to action to support specific candidates based on information we get from candidates and allies. And we will be promoting ways you can serve as “Messengers for Democracy.”
Our endorsements start at the top of the ticket. After statewide races for Congressional seats, we provide endorsements in every legislative race throughout the state, followed by our endorsement of the early childhood initiative. We are working on endorsements for key county races in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Taos, Silver City, Santa Fe, and other counties.
We have taken a good deal of time talking with candidates, reviewing campaign websites and articles about candidates, and discussing races with voters who know the candidates. If you have concerns or a differing view on any of these races, please reach out to us by writing to RetakeResponse@gmail.com. Thank you.