In the race for Congress in New Mexico’s open blue First CD, only one candidate stands out as a true progressive fighter for the 99%: Eric Griego. That's why he was one of the first candidates anywhere endorsed by Blue America this cycle.
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe in the common good and lifting up all boats. That is why Eric Griego fought to increase the minimum wage in Albuquerque. In contrast, his corrupt ConservaDem opponent, Marty Chavez, sided with the Republican city councilors to oppose it. Griego is well known in New Mexico politics for having taken on conservatives in the legislature who wanted to balance the budget on the backs of working families by cutting Medicaid and the retirement savings of public workers.
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe that the best way to restore our economy is by generating aggregate demand-- by putting Americans back to work, not cutting jobs and services helping families. Conservatives argue that cutting the deficit they created with two wars, tax cuts for the rich, and the Great Recession caused by their deregulation of Wall Street should take higher priority than creating jobs. That kind of Austerity thinking is what lost Sarkozy his reelection bid in France over the weekend and what has failed conservative politicians being voted out of office all over Europe.
Eric Griego is calling for massive public works projects to rebuild and modernize our country's transportation and coast-to-coast broadband infrastructure, and to lead the world in the clean energy economy. In contrast, his self-styled “progressive” opponent Michelle Lujan Grisham parroted Republican talking points by telling the Albuquerque Journal that job creation should be “maybe tied, or right underneath” the deficit and the budget.
Progressives believe in speaking truth to power. Eric Griego made national headlines last October working with several other progressive Democratic candidates for Congress to deliver over 35,000 petitions to the Speaker of the House, demanding that Boehner and the Republicans “stand with the 99%” and pass President Obama’s jobs plan. He also organized local seniors to deliver over 5,000 petitions to his Republican opponent, Janice Arnold-Jones, to get her on the record as supporting the Ryan budget plan to end Medicare and cut Social Security. Griego proudly joined other progressive legislators around the country to call on Democrats to drop their membership in ALEC. In contrast, Marty Chavez had attacked progressive U.S. Senator Tom Udall as “far to the left” and as “endangering national security."
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe in collective responsibility; that the cost of public education, healthcare, transportation, and national security that benefit all of us should be borne fairly by all. That's why Griego had sponsored legislation to close corporate tax loopholes and to increase taxes on the rich. And he not only wants to end the Bush tax cut for millionaires, but also pass the “Buffett Rule” and restore the Clinton era tax rates to restore fairness, and institute a quarter-to-half-cent tax on Wall Street speculation. While many Democrats talk about fairness and justice for the middle class, there is only one Democrat in this race for Congress who has spelled it out with such force of conviction.
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe that the elderly who have worked a lifetime and paid into Social Security and Medicare should be able to retire with dignity through these guaranteed programs. That is why Eric Griego says he will never let the Tea Party Republicans cut Social Security and Medicare, and opposes raising the retirement age or privatizing those programs. He's still the only candidate in the race who has publicly said on the record supporting removing the income cap on Social Security tax to keep the program solvent for generations. Marty Chavez, on the other hand, told the Albuquerque Journal that cuts to Social Security and Medicare “should be reviewed by Congress” and the Washington Post reported that “he’s open to entitlement cuts.”
Progressives believe in getting the right things done for the 99%. When Michelle Lujan Grisham claimed in the Albuquerque Journal on April 12th that she “has a knack for finding creative ways to get things done,” she should explain if that meant she would find creative ways to give up progressive principles to the Blue Dogs and the Republicans in the name of getting something--anything-- done. Progressives are sick of poll-driven Democrats who say they want to get things done-- but don’t (or won’t) fight to get the right things done. We’ve seen plenty of Democrats get things done-- without the public option or even a whimper for Medicare for All, without strong labor and environmental standards in trade deals, without real teeth to enforce Wall Street regulations. It’s time we send more real movement progressives like Eric Griego to Congress who will fight to get the right things done.
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe in science and that protecting the environment and creating jobs are not mutually exclusive. Eric Griego is one of only three current state legislators with a lifetime 100% rating from Conservation Voters New Mexico, and is endorsed by CVNM, League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club. In the State Senate, Griego sponsored and passed a green jobs training legislation and dedicated state investments in clean renewable industries. He also led a fierce effort to successfully defeat rollbacks of state-only carbon cap and participation in the Western Climate Initiative. On the Albuquerque City Council, Griego spearheaded the city’s Water Conservation Task Force and led the passage of the Renewable Incentive Program, which attracted green jobs to the city.
Griego has the boldest pro-environment platform in the race. He has made it a top priority to fight for legislation to put a down-payment of at least $150 billion towards building a clean energy economy. He is modeling his proposal after the 2009 House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, but stronger. And while many Democrats prefer to talk in abstract about the need to move forward beyond fossil fuels to invest in clean renewable energy, Griego has been unafraid to go on the record to offer concrete positions. He would fight for a moratorium on building new coal power plants and phase out existing ones. When most Democrats were nervously looking to see which way the political wind would blow on extracting oil from tar sands, Griego opposed the Keystone XL pipeline early-- in September 2011.
Chavez also touts his green credentials and his support for investing in clean renewable energy. But according to the Albuquerque Journal, Chavez said that he would “work as an advocate" in Congress for the state’s natural gas industry while pushing to repeal tax incentives for Big Oil companies. He did not address the fact that three of the five of the five targeted Big Oil companies-- ConocoPhillips, BP and Exxon-- are New Mexico’s three largest natural gas producers by volume.” Instead of voicing his commitment to be an advocate for the state’s solar, wind, geothermal or biomass industries, it is revealing that Chavez chose to advocate for fossil fuels instead. The Albuquerque Journal also wrote on January 13, 2008 that Chavez’s claims of reducing carbon pollution as mayor was “full of hot air” and criticized him for “greenwashing” his record.
Michelle Lujan Grisham lacks a record on protecting the environment and clean energy. More worrisome is her apparent lack of interest or knowledge on the issue. She doesn't even bother to address it at all on her website’s issues page.
Progressives need an explanation from the Blue Dogs’ favorite candidate. Chavez is obviously not a progressive. Michelle Lujan Grisham should explain her credibility as a self-styled progressive when she had served in the same cabinet with Republicans Heather Wilson (who is now running against Democrat Martin Heinrich for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico) and Darren White (who ran against Heinrich for Congress in 2008) to implement libertarian Republican Governor Gary Johnson’s slash-and-privatize agenda. She must also explain why she was able to earn the endorsements of the state’s leading corporate Blue Dogs, such as John Arthur Smith, Tim Jennings, and Mary Kay Papen. These right-wing “Democrats” are in a coalition with the Republicans and ALEC to cut public education, cut Medicaid, and cut public pensions while extending tax cuts for the rich and tax loopholes for big corporations. You don't find these kinds of political hacks endorsing Griego. Chavez and Grisham split them all between themselves.
Progressives believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people-- and that corporations are not people. Eric Griego fought to pass public financing of elections to get corporate money out of politics in Albuquerque elections, and supports public financing for all elections. Griego was also in the vanguard of a national progressive effort to make New Mexico’s legislature only the second in the nation to call on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. After trying desperately but failing to win the support of labor unions (such as AFSCME, AFT, CWA, NEA, the Teamsters and UFCW), environmental groups (such as the Sierra Club and LCV), and progressives (such as Blue America, Daily Kos, DFA, MoveOn, PCCC and PDA), Chavez has taken to attacking the Democratic base as “corrupt third party” groups for supporting the progressive Griego.
Progressives believe that public servants should be held to high ethical standards. That's why Eric Griego fought to create the inspector general’s office in the city of Albuquerque to investigate rampant fraud and abuse in City Hall under Chavez when he was mayor. He also sponsored bills to close the revolving door between lobbyists and politicians in the state legislature and to create an independent ethics commission to keep the politicians honest. Unfortunately, his efforts were rebuffed by conservative Blue Dog Democrats-- the same ones supporting Grisham in the current race-- who did not want to give up their access to corporate cash.
Chavez has a long and sordid history of using his office to enrich himself and his friends at taxpayers’ expense. As he was ending his last term as mayor, he gave himself thirty-seven thousand dollars in worker’s comp and put his political appointees in lower-level positions at higher salaries. He was even officially reprimanded by the city’s ethics board for creating an illegal political committee, the ABQPAC, and taking tens of thousands of dollars from city employees and contractors to pay for his family’s personal travel and unpaid loans he had made to his 1993 mayoral campaign.
Michelle Lujan Grisham also has glaring ethical flaws. She claims to have “aggressively addressed poor quality care in nursing homes” as the Director of Aging. In fact, she “censored, squelched and threatened” her agency’s independent watchdog. When her agency’s ombudsman brought concerns about a nursing home operating without a license, Lujan Grisham complained saying “don’t create a paper trail to show they are not doing their job” and that she “could lose her job over his behavior.” Lujan Grisham also restricted the watchdog’s access to state officials to retaliate for exposing her conflict of interest, because she “received a substantial portion of her household income from the long-term care industry,” including income from one of the state’s largest nursing home operators. She even eased enforcement of nursing home regulations because her Republican boss, Governor Gary Johnson, received $55,000 in campaign contributions from Sun Healthcare, the largest nursing home operator in the state.
If we call ourselves progressives, we believe that we need to increase our number in the Congressional Progressive Caucus to fight for the 99% and get the best deal possible in any legislative negotiation. Eric Griego is the one Democrat in this race for Congress whose record and passion we can count on to fight for the 99%. And he has proudly committed himself to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and has the support of both of the co-chairs of the caucus Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
On June 5th, we can send a real movement progressive to Congress. Please consider contributing what you can to Eric's race, here on the Blue America page.