Groups unite behind CD1’s Griego, legislative candidates
The Working Families of New Mexico coalition is partnering with the federal Super PAC Progressive Kick to help progressive candidates win their Democratic primary races.
A handful of self-identified progressive organizations have partnered with a federal Super PAC in an effort to elect Democrat Eric Griego to Congress and five new Democrats to the N.M. Legislature.
The group calls itself Working Families of New Mexico, and it has partnered with the federal Super PAC Progressive Kick to help progressive candidates win their Democratic primary races.
In the 1st Congressional District race, the group’s efforts have included a radio ad and knocking on almost 33,000 doors, in addition to Progressive Kick’s TV and radio ads and a pamphlet.
In addition, the group has endorsed candidates in five Democratic legislative primaries – Eleanor Chavez in Senate District 14, Christine Trujillo in House District 25, Maxine Velasquez in Senate District 30, Larry Martinez in Senate District 35, and Louis Luna in House District 32. The group is sending mailers in support of those candidates and doing door-to-door canvassing to help Chavez and Trujillo, according to Tomas Garduño, director of New Mexico New Majority.
That is one of five groups that are part of the Working Families of New Mexico coalition. New Mexico New Majority is a 501(c)(4) organization affiliated with the nonprofit SouthWest Organizing Project. The others involved in the coalition are Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ), Communication Workers of America, MoveOn.org and Native American activist Laurie Weahkee.
Groups anticipate ‘extremely close contests’
A letter Garduño provided to NMPolitics.net, which was sent to supporters of the coalition this week, states that the groups “came together around the opportunity to help elect Eric Griego – someone who many of us have known for years as a dedicated and forceful leader in the progressive movement to Congress.”
“All told, up and down the ballot, the races look like they’ll be extremely close contests,” the letter states. “We can’t know what Tuesday night will bring, but we feel satisfied for having started a progressive effort that will grow stronger and more effective with every election cycle to come.”
The groups’ efforts include attempts to unseat three state legislative incumbents – Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming, who currently represents Senate District 35; Dona Irwin of Deming, who represents House District 32; and David Ulibarri of Grants, who represents Senate District 30.
That’s noteworthy because progressive groups are generally well-organized in New Mexico and effective at turning out voters, and in recent elections progressive challengers have had some success at unseating more conservative lawmakers.
Working Families’ partnership with Progressive Kick isn’t the only effort to replace more conservative Democrats with progressives in the primary. As the Las Cruces Sun-News is reporting, Conservation Voters New Mexico has spent $30,000 thus far to try to unseat Ulibarri and incumbent Sen. Phil Griego of San Jose, who represents District 39.
What the groups are doing, spending
NMPolitics.net has already highlighted Progressive Kick’s work in the CD1 race and the Deming-area legislative races, and learned of the larger coalition in the course of that reporting. Garduño and Joshua Grossman, who heads Progressive Kick, revealed a much broader effort than NMPolitics.net had previously reported.
Progressive Kick has aired an ad on cable TV (which was briefly taken off the air to be reworked) and radio attacking Grisham, and it has distributed a Griego-supporting pamphlet. It also sent out a mailer in the Deming-area races that was produced with the help of OLÉ.
The letter that was sent to supporters of the coalition this week highlights additional efforts to help Griego, including polling to “determine the most powerful messages” to help the candidate, knocking on 32,900 doors by Election Day, making 8,800 phone calls, and producing a radio ad hitting Griego opponent Michelle Lujan Grisham.
OLÉ’s Matthew Henderson told NMPolitics.net the canvassing is targeting already-identified Griego supporters and trying to get them to vote early. In addition, it will target 300-400 supporters of Chavez and Trujillo in their legislative races to encourage them to vote early. He said he expects the canvass to have a “big impact” in the 1st District race.
“Whether we are in the South Valley or deep in the Northeast Heights, voters seem really open to discussing the race with our canvassers and receptive to the message that Working Families of New Mexico are projecting about Griego putting working families first,” Henderson said.
The efforts are all done through independent expenditures, which means the groups can’t legally coordinate with the candidates. According to OpenSecrets.org, Progressive Kick has spent more than $95,000 thus far on the CD1 race – including paying OLÉ $25,000 to run the canvassing.
The Super PAC, which is based in Oakland, Calif., has raised more than $300,000 this election cycle and is funded largely by San Diego-based real estate investors Lawrence and Susan Hess and MoveOn.org.
Of course, in the CD1 race Griego isn’t the only candidate with outside help. In fact, the Women Vote! Super PAC has spent a little more to help Grisham than Progressive Kick has spent on the race (view a breakdown here).
Garduño said independent expenditures set up for the state races have been done primarily by Progressive Kick and OLÉ. NMPolitics.net could find little information about those independent expenditures online. Grossman said that’s because all that’s required in New Mexico state races is a list of expenses disclosed in its federal report, which is here.
Grossman said the group’s total spending on the five state legislative races won’t add up to more than $15,000.
‘We’ve begun to build a new broad alignment’
Even if its candidates aren’t successful on Tuesday, the Working Families of New Mexico letter to supporters states, “we think we’ve gained something immensely valuable.”
“Together, we’ve begun to build a new broad alignment among progressives in New Mexico – the ‘Working Families of New Mexico’ – with the courage and skill to make a real difference in helping to elect progressive leaders who share the values of the 99% and who will fight to make life a little better for ordinary working class and middle class New Mexicans,” the letter states.
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