Saturday, October 21, 2017

Taking Back The House Is #1 Priority But Winning Open Blue Seats For Progressive Reformers Is Also Crucial


People aren't thinking much about the Albuquerque congressional district, NM-01. It's a safely blue district and the incumbent, dull backbencher Michelle Lujan Grisham is stepping down to run for governor, leaving 8 or so candidates vying for the nomination to take on some Republican destined for defeat (either Michael Hendricks or Janice Arnold-Jones). The candidates I've dug up so far are lobbyist Annie Chavez, retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara, former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Deb Haaland, physicist Dennis Dinge, Edgewood Mayor John Abrams and Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis.

Obama won the district both times, 60-39% against McCain and 55-40% against Romney. Even Hillary managed to win-- beating Trump 51.6% to 35.1%, his worst performance in the state. The PVI is D+7, unchanged from 2 years ago. The district is 49% Hispanic. DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan, from the district just to the north, has pledged neutrality in the primary and, unlike in many districts, seems to be keeping his word so far.

The frontrunners in the money race are Antoinette Sedillo Lopez ($330,249.14), Deb Haaland ($262,098.06) and Damon Martinez ($211,001.49) who have all had strong fundraising quarters. Superficially all three seem to be qualified in their own ways, two of them come to the race with significant baggage.

Deb Haaland, as state party chair, has a checkered history with the local progressive base. As party chair last year, she committed to administering a straw poll at the state convention, only to reverse that decision and pull the straw poll at the last minute when she saw it would be a big win for Bernie. This decision infuriated local progressives, who saw it as a betrayal and an attempt to suppress Bernie support during last year's primaries. Needless to say, the decision resulted in a disaffected progressive base, and led to calls for her to step down as chair. An ardent Clinton supporter, her machinations led to her being called the Debbie Wassermann Schultz of New Mexico. Bernie went on to win Bernalillo County 38,247 (50.9%) to 36,937 (49.1%) despite Holland's bias and interference.

Former US. Attorney Damon Martinez has also recently gotten in to some hot water over allegations of racial bias in an ATF sting operation that took place during his tenure. In a recent interview with NM In Depth, a local journalist pressed him on the issue, and the former U.S. Attorney offered few answers on the allegations. Their analysis shows some significant over-representation in arrests made by communities of color. Earlier this summer, Martinez was also called out by the Santa Fe New Mexican for his refusal to prosecute bad cops. I suspect that Martinez will continue to have to answer questions surrounding his tenure as U.S. Attorney.

We'll be watching as the race continues to develop, but it does seem that at least some of the leading candidates in the race offer the Republicans needless and dangerous openings to exploit in the general. Meanwhile, it's worth mentioning that Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has been endorsed by New Mexico's former Attorney General Attorney General Patricia Madrid, local progressive icon Eric Griego and by national progressives Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

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At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking back the house is NOT a priority and it wouldn't change one goddamn thing if it happened.

1) remember 2009. They know that winning the house means betraying the voters' mandate again... still. And if that happens once or many more times, it will permanently force millions and millions of their voters to wake up and stop supporting them.
2) even YOU have noted, often, that the DCCC is doing more to lose races than win them. Has been for years.

Winning open seats with progressives won't do shit because the house caucus is tyrannical with Pelosi, hoyer, Crowley naming committee chairs and dictating what those committees allow to be debated, and, mostly, what is never to be debated. MFA, bank reform, tax increases, war, torture, drones, FTA renegotiations... all are DOA in a corrupt Pelosi D house caucus.

And, DWT, you know this.


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