Today we announce our endorsements for four statewide races, 14 legislative races, and 3 county commission races. We will continue to fine tune our endorsements, but right now we encourage you to get involved with these important races. The outcomes will determine the political environment in which we advocate for the next 2-4 years. Your vote matters, but what matters more is your time and your contributions. As reported by Milan Simonich in The New Mexican this morning, not only are corporate Dems lining up to fund campaigns to unseat key Dems, GOP donors are joining the effort to remove progressives from office. We must fight back and support those Dems who have brought us so many important legislative wins the last four years.
Retake Our Democracy’s endorsement process involves consultation with our Board of Directors and allies as well as interviews with legislators and candidates and a careful review of candidate websites. We do not do candidate surveys because we found them to be time-intensive and to not elicit interesting responses, as candidates tend to feed you what they know you want to hear. We find discussions with constituents and allies who know incumbents and challengers to be far more informative and useful in making endorsements. Through our process, we have identified a range of races where we have recommendations for how you can support good progressive candidates. At this point, with few exceptions, we are focused on primary races. After the primary, the page will be updated to focus on the General Election.
As part of this work, we have recorded Zoom interviews with a handful of candidates, which you’ll find below. The questions were designed to encourage candidates to take firm positions on policies that Retake supports. Click the links to view the interviews:
- Rep. Kristina Ortez
- Rep. Andrea Romero
- Rep. Susan Herrera
- Rep. Roger Montoya
- Reena Szczepanski, candidate for Rep. in Dist 47
- Eric Olivas, candidate for Bernco Commission, Dist 5
We believe that when you support a candidate and/or vote, you are not necessarily choosing someone you revere (as 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 and 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 a good deal 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 in most of the races 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 a new corporate-funded, centrist PAC, Working Together, is under way with a plan to retake control of the legislature and county commissions. Dem. Rep. Patty Lundstrom has joined that effort by donating to several centrists who are challenging progressive incumbents in the primary.
- Our own fatigue, let’s admit it — Covid, Zoom life, a really tough short session, Ukraine news, and the dispiriting inaction on climate change from Dems and GOP from Washington to Santa Fe — all this 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, Ole, 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, Dems 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, as Democrats solidified and expanded their newly won majority in the House, from 38-32 over Republicans in 2017 to 45-24 this year and with several more progressive women winning seats, creating a majority-women Dem. House caucus for the first time.
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 on the ballot in Nov.;
- Legalizing end-of-life options for those suffering with 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, Richard Block, Rebecca Dow, or Mark Ronchetti. And the bills above are hardly superficial, symbolic wins; they have a huge impact on everyday New Mexicans. So elections matter and Retake tries to make it easier for you to decide 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, 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. The ABQ Journal reported last month 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, including the Working Together PAC, are challenging Reps. Montoya, Ortez, Herrera, and Romero in addition to candidates in other parts of the state. And they come with corporate funding to boot. Lots of it. So where does that leave us? Hopefully, poised and ready to dig in and canvass, call, and contribute for some of the candidates identified below. Quite obviously no one can canvass and call in as many race as we have identified below, 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 have not prioritized the races where we have made endorsements. We figure you will prioritize according to where you live and what issues and candidates are most important to you. But over the next month, we may well issue a few calls to action to support specific candidates based on information we get from candidates and allies.
We’ll start at the top of the ticket. After our endorsements in statewide races, we provide endorsements in legislative races throughout the state, followed by our endorsement of the early childhood initiative and then key county commission races in Bernalillo and Santa Fe 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.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul and Roxanne