On Thursday evening, those attending Augustine Montoya’s Meet & Greet were introduced to a completely unique political candidate, one who doesn’t profess to know everything, who doesn’t fill his stump speech with platitudes and empty rhetoric. We were introduced to Augie Montoya, the person, not the consultant-crafted image, but the authentic individual who understands working class issues because he and his family have lived working class lives for generations.
Before we dive in, I want to remind you why we are hosting the Security for New Mexicans Zoominar on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, we wrote a blog post about how our healthcare system is a mess, with soaring pharmaceutical prices; confusing healthcare plan options; long waits for appointments, often months, even for time-critical conditions; and high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We noted that NM ranks last in the nation in healthcare access and affordability. We are now learning that the almost $800K in Junior Bill funding to advance the Health Security Plan Design appears to be stuck in the Superintendent of Insurance’s office. Without a fleshed-out plan, legislators and the public will be unable to understand how implementing that plan could contain healthcare and pharmaceutical costs while improving access to care and strengthening our rural healthcare systems.
New Mexico is fortunate to have a cadre of advocates and legislators who understand the problem and have a plan to fix it. In our Zoominar (link below), we will discuss the Plan Design and the role that Retake peeps need to take to get the funding released now, and what Health Security Plan Campaign leadership will be introducing in 2023 to ensure the process proceeds more swiftly.
While we have a good number registered for the Zoominar, we need many more to attend. Ideally, we need a dozen or more legislators so they can be briefed on what the Health Security Plan could achieve, how the Plan Design progress has stalled, and what we can do about it. NM has an opportunity to lead the nation in providing affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare. Or we can continue continue to rank last. To help advance the Plan Design you will need to understand the issues, and we will need lots of people like you committed to helping before and during the session. So we are asking you to do more than register. We want to ask you to think and act like organizers:
- If you are a ward or precinct chair or can send emails to an Indivisible, PDA, Adelante, PVA, or similar group, send the paragraph below to your entire list and strongly encourage attendance.
- Send the paragraph below to your State Senator and State House Rep. We want legislators to be part of the discussion.
- If you know any journalists, invite them to attend and send them the event description and registration info below.
- Don’t forget to register yourself. We need you all.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6 – 7:30 pm, Retake Our Democracy is Hosting a Zoominar on Health Security for NM. With New Mexico ranking last in the nation in healthcare affordability and access, with multiple rural hospitals at risk of bankruptcy, policymakers and legislators should be cheering on the Health Security Design process and doing all they can to push it forward. Panelists will dive into the problems with our current healthcare system and discuss how Health Security Campaign leadership and key legislators propose to create a healthcare plan that will guarantee coverage for all New Mexicans while controlling costs. Panelists include Mary Feldblum, Exec. Director of Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign; two of her key legislative allies, Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Representative Day Hochman-Vigil; and Rick Madden, MD, from the NM Academy of Family Physicians. Register to attend at this link.
An Inspiring Evening with Augustine Montoya & Our Heartfelt Encouragement to Help!
The entire premise behind Retake Our Democracy is that we organize information and tools for you to more easily take effective action. Over the past two weeks, we have provided information on two of our endorsed candidates, Gabe Vasquez and Augustine Montoya, both of whom are challenging conservative MAGA-like Republicans in tight races. You’ve responded. Big Time. The Augie event on Thursday included a large number of familiar Retake faces, and from Augie’s campaign we heard that they raised over $8,000 since Mariel Nanasi, Jeff Haas, and Retake announced the Meet & Greet. There is so much overlap between NEE and Retake supporters that it is impossible to attribute how much of that total was directly due to Retake or Mariel and Jeff. But it doesn’t matter. Another tenet of Retake is to collaborate with allies and we couldn’t be happier to report how well this collaboration worked. But now we ask that we all continue working, as there is more to be done.
From the beaming smiles above, you can tell we were all inspired from hearing from Augustine and from his family who also attended. As noted, we raised over $8,000 from the event and from those who couldn’t attend, but who donated from home. The funds raised will pay for two mailers, an important boost to his campaign. But Augustine needs an additional $10,000 to pay for two more mailers and for lawn signs. I wish we could have Zoomed the event so that those of who donated from home could have heard directly from the candidate, met his most impressive family, and spoken with Democratic leaders like Stephanie Garcia Richard, Liz Stefanics, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, who shared how strongly they support Augustine. Since most of you weren’t there, I’ll have to make Augie’s pitch for him, his family, and those Democratic leaders.
Besides being refreshing, very smart, just 22 years old, and the diametric opposite of his opponent, Stefani Lord, Augie:
- Opposes hydrogen production;
- Supports community solar;
- Supports sensible gun violence prevention legislation;
- Strongly supports a woman’s right to choose;
- Supports the Green Amendment; and
- Strongly opposes private prisons and would like the state to take over existing private prisons in NM.
That alone makes Augie worthy of our support. What’s more, he faces a well-funded, MAGA-aligned, NRA-backed, ultra-conservative opponent, Stephani Lord. So an Augie win would be a two-fer, adding one solid progressive Representative and removing one ultra-conservative.
The Democratic party is using its campaign coffers to protect seats of vulnerable incumbents — not unreasonable, but not exactly helping Augie, who the Party has deemed somewhat of a long-shot based largely upon past Democratic voter turnout in the district, not the candidates themselves. And candidates matter.
At the Meet & Greet, I spoke with several folks from House District 22, and the consistent message I heard was that most in the district know and respect Augie and his very large family. Many voters in his district, including Republicans, don’t like Lord and think of her as an interloper representing national interests, not District 22. The people with whom I spoke from District 22 do not see Augie as a long shot at all, but as a candidate with a solid shot.
More evidence that Augustine can win this race: In 2018 in House District 22, Jessica Velasquez lost to incumbent Rep. Greg Schmedes by less than 150 votes. In 2020, Velasquez lost by just under 500 votes in her race against Stefani Lord. And that was before HD 22 got to know Lord as their Rep. So there has been an investment made in HD22 and the Dems lost narrowly in each of the last two races. Taking all this into consideration and factoring in the likeability of Augie and his family, and the now favorable winds for Dems across the country, we feel he has a very good shot. Given the investment in two previous campaigns, it makes sense to now invest in Augie to build credible Democratic strength in a historically GOP district. Not only to get Augie in the House, but also because every Augie-generated Democratic vote is likely a vote for Dems in statewide races.
So there are many good reasons to support Augie, but before we ask you to contribute again, I want to share some of Liz Stefanics’ comments from Thursday evening. She encouraged folks to dig deep and asked: How much does dinner out with a nice bottle of wine set you back? Or a really nice pair of shoes? Would electing Augie and sending Lord home be worth foregoing one or two dinners out or a new pair of shoes?
We feel this election is worth a slew of dinners out, which we don’t do often, but the analogy holds. On the way home, I asked Roxanne if we should donate again and her reply was immediate and short: “Yes, $500.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. She went on to cite Liz Stefanics and sealed the deal.
We would like all of you to consider the cost of some activity you enjoy now and then: skiing, dinner and a movie, a weekend away. Would it be worth it to you to forego just one or two of those activities, not forever, but once or twice and direct those funds to someone who would bring an entirely different perspective to the Roundhouse: 22 years old, from a working class family, with working class values. When you go to the Roundhouse, you don’t see people like that voting “yea” or “nay” on bills that impact working people. When we start seeing more of those people representing us, we will have a far easier time passing legislation promoting economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. Let’s get this done!
You can make a donation by clicking here. Save just enough in your account to go out and celebrate Augie’s win the night after the election.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne