Today, I want to take another look at the special election in the Albuquerque area to fill the seat of Deb Haaland who is headed towards the Department of the Interior. Blue America has endorsed state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the most progressive member of the New Mexico state legislature. The party committees will pick the nominees and in this district-- where Biden beat Trump 60.2% to 37.4% and where Haaland just beat her GOP opponent 58.2% to 41.8%-- that nomination is tantamount to election.
This evening, Pelosi is holding a telephone town hall for one of the establishment candidates, Randi McGinn. Why would Pelosi-- decades ago, some people can still recall, a progressive herself-- pick someone in a blue district who doesn't stand for anything? Think back to Gil Cisneros, the potato chip taster who won the lottery, donated a bunch of money to candidates and committees Pelosi wanted him to donate to and then ran for a congressional seat-- with Pelosi's backing-- which he won, represented poorly for one term and was then defeated by a Republican by over 4,000 votes even while Biden was sweeping the district by over 10 points!
Pelosi is literally incapable of learning a lesson from that... and EMILY's List is absolutely insistent on McGinn, a big donor to their organization. In fact, McGinn, one of the biggest legal ambulance chasers in the Southwest, gives to lots of conservative Democrats. Her record shows she's as likely to give to a Republican as to a progressive Dem but she has consistently contributed to candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, like Claire McCaskill (MO), Doug Jones (AL), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and over and over and over again to local Blue Dog Harry Teague.
As best I can tell, McGinn, queen of New Mexico trial lawyers, has a net worth in the $80 million range. She's trying to buy the race-- which Pelosi believes is hers to sell-- and has suddenly, out of the blue, adopted all progressive issue positions that she thinks people want to hear including Medicare For All. There is no record at all of her pushing for any of these positions before she decided to run for Congress and started attending forums of local progressive groups.
She was mostly unknown among the Dem state central committee but she has already sent them all signed copies of her vanity autobiography about her trail blazing legal career to get noticed. Pelosi gets $75,000 as a "speakers fee" for this kind of event so I guess she's paying that too. Maybe not. After all, she's been sending checks to the DCCC, which is exactly what Pelosi wants.
I hope someone gets on the telephone townhall tonight and asks McGinn and Pelosi how they think a couple of multi-millionaires like themselves can understand the struggles of everyday New Mexicans. And since McGinn claims she supports Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, does that mean Pelosi, who has prevented either from being voted on, now support them too? Ha!
A couple of other candidates are trying the same stunt. Melanie Stansbury, a middle of the road state legislator who is suddenly running as a progressive, reluctantly adding "something like Medicare-for-All" to her website, knowing full well no one is going to win NM-01 who doesn't claim to support it, but still maintaining some degree of "deniability" for her DC donors.
Even funnier is Victor Reyes, a shining star in the party who felt he needed to be in the closet until he decided to run for Congress and got the feeling that being able to boast about being the first gay man to represent New Mexico in Congress-- not even true-- would be a winning "issue." So he outed himself and was immediately endorsed by an LGBTQ identity politics PAC. Blue America once tangled with her grandpa-- the family is from El Paso-- Silvestre Reyes, a corrupt conservative Democrat who we helped Beto O'Rourke beat in 2012. Victor moved to New Mexico a coupe of years later to pursue politics there. He's no progressive and has criticized progressive members of the legislature for working to regulate the oil industry, fracking, and other major progressive pieces of legislation, although his announcement video claims he backs Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, neither of which he has ever publicly advocated for before.
Another one the Blue America-endorsed candidates, Shervin Aazami, has a somewhat similar situation-- at least in terms of having opponents who are not progressives but are pretending to be in order to trick voters. One is the corporate establishment incumbent Brad Sherman who never pushes for anything progressive but is still allowed to hang onto membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He has a "D" score from ProgressivePunch, despite representing a D+18 district where Trump was defeated 68.7% to 29.4%. The other is a Yang supporter who changed her liberalish website a few days ago to make it look as though she's an actual progressive. For example, a few days ago, there was no "Medicare-For-All," but now that she's spent a bundle on polling, voilà... she's transformed just the way the careerists running against Antoinette Sedillo Lopez in Albuquerque have been. Although... someone needs to tell her what Medicare-for-All is because she absolutely got it wrong on her website:
I reached Aazami last night and asked him in the voters in his district are going to be taken in by Sherman and Rhodes. "Being a progressive," he told me "is more than just a title, and requires more than just throwing your weight behind big ideas like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. It's about putting in the work everyday to develop and implement specific policies that directly serve the working class and end corporate welfare. It's about changing the culture of politics so that community, transparency, and service are the guiding principles-- not just slogans that candidates run on and then abandon as soon as they're elected."
He got right into the big problem: "A lot of lawmakers-- like Brad Sherman-- like to hide behind their co-sponsorship of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal not because they believe in the need for these transformative solutions, but because they want to fend off a primary challenger. Rep. Sherman's corporate donors-- which include weapons manufacturers, private equity firms, commercial banks, and real estate developers-- tell us much more about where his loyalties lay than any co-sponsorship of Medicare for All ever will. In other words, their support becomes about power rather than service. And that mentality is just as destructive, because we don't have time for candidates or lawmakers who want to give lip service rather than be honest champions of working class people. Too many people are struggling for us not to demand more specific details and plans of action from our candidates and lawmakers. We simply don't have time for more perfunctory endorsements of progressive goals like Medicare for All. Every voter should be asking candidates-- show us your plan to legislate on the big ideas."
Aazami has-- and in great depth and detail. That has a lot to do why he earned the Blue America endorsement.
"For example, right now," he told me, "the Green New Deal is a Resolution-- not a comprehensive piece of legislation. We have to legislate on its bold people-first vision. How do we do that? We put forth specific plans-- like our campaign platform does-- that bring the goals of big ideas into fruition. Our plan calls for everything from abolishing all federal fossil fuel subsidies, to investing billions into the EPA and CDC to deliver public health resources to low-income communities of color on the frontlines of the climate crisis, to banning fracking, offshore drilling and mountaintop mining, to modernizing our water and sanitation systems with renewable energy sources that provide thousands of living-wage jobs. We simply don't have time for more politicians who just want to placate voters with feel-good messages. We need direct action-- and we need it now."
Agreed... which is why I put up the Blue America congressional thermometer here and why I'm asking you to consider contributing the Shervin Aazami's and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez's campaigns... which you can do by clicking here or clicking on the thermometer and then donating what you can.