Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Eric Griego (D-New Mexico)

This week the DCCC spent a quarter million dollars on media in the Buffalo suburbs to advance the candidacy of conservative Democrat Kathy Hochul. Hochul is certainly “better” than her opponent, GOP hack Jane Corwin — but does Hochul deserve that kind of expenditure? Her first TV ad starts with her throwing the immigrant community right under the bus. Still, she is a Democrat and that’s the DCCC’s job: elect Democrats — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Blue America has a different mandate: we leave the bad and the ugly to the DCCC and try to lend a hand with the Good. Let’s see if anyone can find anyone better anywhere than our newest candidate, New Mexico state Senator Eric Griego.

Kathy Hochul brags that she “led the fight” to prevent illegal immigrants from getting drivers’ licenses. Eric took a very different approach to the problem in his career. When New Mexico’s new Republican governor signed an executive order attempting to mimic the Arizona “Let me see your papers” law, Eric became the champion in the fight to oppose her. It was the most controversial and politically risky issue he had tackled.

“She signed an Executive Order requiring state law enforcement to ask for immigration status for all ‘criminal suspects.’ I introduced legislation barring state and local law enforcement from ever asking about immigration status. I also led the fight against the repeal of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. The policy had been effect for several years and became an effective wedge issue for the new conservative Republican Governor and her cronies. In a rare showing of Democratic unity, the state senate thwarted the repeal of the drivers licenses.”

A very different kind of Democrat than Kathy Hochul. And a very different kind of Democrat than the kind of conservative Big Business shill the DCCC is rumored to be recruiting to run against Eric for the Albuquerque seat opening up due to the departure of our old friend Martin Heinrich for the open U.S. Senate seat. Right now Eric’s only declared opponent is an extremist religious-fanatic, Republican pastor named Dan Lewis, who is hellbent on wrecking government regulations.

The Albuquerque chapter of DFA first alerted us to Eric’s decision to run for the seat, describing him as “a hard-nosed progressive fighter for families, children and workers who’s ready, willing and able to take on the right wing attacks on education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.” That’s the picture his record in public service paints. The first thing I ever heard him say was “The last thing we need to send to Washington is a Democrat who’s a kinder, gentler version of the Republicans, frankly.”

Blue America has spent weeks talking with him since then. He’s exactly the kind of unapologetic progressive leader we need in Congress, an antidote to the dozens of Blue Dogs and conservatives always scurrying across the aisle to vote with the Republicans against the interests of working families and for their corporate donors. In contrast, Eric led efforts at the state level to do what our kind of Democrats are trying to do at the national level– “Before cutting core spending on kids, seniors and working families,” he told me passionately, “we should ask big oil and other corporate tax evaders to pay their fair share. We should also repeal the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year. For the Republicans to defend subsidies for big oil is indefensible given their outrageous profits. To say taxes on the richest CEOs and multinational corporations are ‘off the table’ is outrageous when at the same time the Republican leadership is willing to ration Medicare, Medicaid and limit Social Security.”

In the state legislature he sponsored several tax reform bills that would have raised personal income taxes on the wealthiest two percent of New Mexicans and to limit subsidies to large out of state corporations. The bills were killed by state Senate leaders. “In my first year in the Senate, I passed a green jobs bill that provides state-funded training for solar, wind and other renewable energy workers. That year [2008] and in 2011 I sponsored comprehensive ethics and campaign finance reform legislation including public financing for all state elections, contribution limits, and a state ethics commission. The ethics and campaign finance bills never got heard due to opposition from Senate leadership.” In 2005 Eric was behind the successful Albuquerque initiative to provide voluntary public financing for local elections. “We are now one of the few cities in the nation with public financing of local elections.”

Kicking off his campaign a couple weeks ago, Eric told his supporters in Albuquerque why he’s the right man for the job. Those reasons resonate perfectly with Blue America:

โ€œWe need a Democratic Congressional candidate who will unapologetically stand up for Democratic values. The current Republican leadership in Congress wants to dismantle the protections that it has taken generations to build, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We need a strong courageous advocate for working families and who has a record of taking on those who put the interests of the richest two percent of Americans and the largest corporate interests ahead of our children, our environment and our local businesses.โ€

If that kind of message appeals to you– and, by the way, I should mention that Eric is also the Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a non-profit research, policy and advocacy organization that fights for the stateโ€™s vulnerable children and working families– please consider making a donation to our newest endorsed candidate, Eric Griego.

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