Redistricting takes backseat in pre-session rallies

By Matthew Reichbach

There was considerable action throughout the Roundhouse even before the special session officially kicked off at noon — and very little of it was related to redistricting. Perhaps this was a signal that the other issues added to the special session agenda will hijack the decennial affair that is mandated by the Constitution to redraw new district lines.

A coalition of groups called New Mexico Can Do Better, which supports the law that allows immigrants to earn drivers licenses in New Mexico, held a rally in the Capitol Rotunda and an hour later a coalition of tea party groups from throughout the state rallied outside the Roundhouse.

Allen Sanchez, representing the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bishops support the current driver’s license law and noted that Jesus was an immigrant.

“The bishops don’t always get involved but we do when it is an ethical or moral issue,” Sanchez said at the press conference. “This is an ethical issue.”

The tea party groups rallied to protest the law and support the policies that Governor Susana Martinez has added to the special session docket. A common theme among speakers at the tea party was to cut spending.

Therese Cooper, co-founder of the East Mountain Tea Party, likened spending by the state legislature to slavery.

“They have enslaved our state. They have enslaved our people,” Cooper said to cheers from the crowd.

Many speakers at the tea party said that if the legislators did not listen to the will of the people, they would be voted out of office.

The rally by New Mexico Can Do Better was focused on the drivers license issue.

Jose Manuel Escobedo, the Policy Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said that “The law that we have now is a common sense law.”

Sanchez was more personal and mentioned a story about a couple who entered the country without a visa, but then went on to work hard so that their children could have a better life. He then went on to say that they were Susana Martinez’s great-grandparents. The revelation about Martinez’s great-grandparents made national headlines.

The two collections of groups disagreed on whether or not the law made the roads safer.

Tea party members said that studies have shown that the driver’s license law has not reduced the percentage of uninsured drivers on New Mexico roads.

However, putting aside the dispute over the numbers of uninsured motorists, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are licensed drivers

Sheryl Bohlander of Club 54, a conservative group from Santa Fe, said that those who support the current law “will use fear and emotion to push their agenda.”

Another speaker likened the debate to that of good and evil.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who is running for U.S. Senate, also spoke at the tea party rally and noted that he supports Martinez’s initiatives during the special session, saying that it would be more beneficial to taxpayers to do more than just the redistricting during the special session.

Allen Sanchez led the groups in calling on Martinez to compromise with the legislature, chanting in the Roundhouse hoping that Martinez could hear on the fourth floor.

“The Silence of the Republicans…”

By Tracy Dingmann

A peek into internal Tea Party communications shows New Mexico Tea Partiers are none too happy with certain Republican legislators for not speaking up more vigorously to defend the doomed Voter ID act.

The bill, HB 308, was heard Tuesday in House Voters and Elections committee and again in that committee today, where it was tabled on a 7-6 party-line vote.

In an email from the East Mountain Tea Party that went out after Tuesday’s meeting and before today’s vote, an organizer lamented that Republicans have not been paying enough attention to Tea Partiers and their complaints:

“Sadly, it appeared that the Republican leadership does not appreciate the Tea Party support they have received, nor their advice. It was a very unsatisfactory meeting, but I suppose it accurately reflects how they do business in the People’s House in Santa Fe. I know that other Republicans greatly value the support of the Tea Party. Perhaps a change of leadership might help to bridge the gap and rectify the unwillingness to hear simple advice about getting vital bills passed.”

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Leap to Extremes: New Mexico Tea Party goes by the book

by John Daniel

W. Cleon Skousen - The man who changed Glenn Beck's life

When it comes to the New Mexico’s Tea Parties, attention must be paid.

After all, many Roundhouse observers are crediting the Tea Parties (or blaming them, depending on one’s point of view) for derailing a bipartisan power-sharing arrangement in the state House of Representatives that would have unseated Speaker Ben Lujan and given conservatives considerably more power in the bargain.

According to those who spoke for the Tea Party’s position, their objection to the deal was one of high principle. Departing from their previous nonpartisan stance, they found it totally unacceptable for any Republican lawmaker to vote for a Democrat for Speaker – in this case, Representative Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces.

The Tea Parties are all about principle – so they say. They claim to be advocating a return to the nation’s founding principles contained in the U.S. Constitution – principles that have been discarded. And how do they read the Constitution?

For some answers, consider this invitation contained in a January 5, 2011 email blast from one of the New Mexico’s major TP groups, the East Mountain Tea Party based in Bernalillo County:

by W. Cleon Skousen

Constituion (sic) Class: $15

Sign up for our seven week course on the Constituion (sic), starting on February 5th, 2011. Discover the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Founding Fathers which they said must be understood and perpetuated by every people who desired peace, prosperity, and freedom. These beliefs have made possible more progress in 200 years than was made previously in over 5,000 years. Thus the title “The 5,000 Year Leap”.

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Catch the Tea Party Train!

By Tracy Dingmann

I don’t really know how I can make this more ironic than it already is, so I’m just going to say it: The Tea Partiers are taking the New Mexico Rail Runner to Santa Fe tomorrow for the opening day of the New Mexico Legislature, where they will vigorously protest the existence of the many government expenditures they despise – including…..wait for it – the Rail Runner.

Not kidding.

From an email sent out this weekend by the East Mountain Tea Party:

In Albuquerque, people are taking the RailRunner (sic) to the Capitol for the Rally. In the East Mountains, we are carpooling, as they are in other cities across the state. Come to the Rally. Call your local Tea Party for more information and for traveling companions.

Once the Tea Partier’s most hated form of public transportation delivers them to the Roundhouse for a rally to celebrate the elections of Susana Martinez, John Sanchez and Dianna Duran (with featured speaker former Governor Gary Johnson!), the Tea Partiers will sign and distribute their fiery Decree for Responsible Government to all 112 legislators and the Governor.

Well…I guess their Decree for Responsible Government doesn’t mention the Rail Runner by name. So maybe the Tea Partiers thought it would be okay to take that incredibly handy form of public transportation to the Capitol for a protest, just this once.

We’ll be riding the train up tomorrow for the session, too. We’ll be sure and a post a picture if we see them. According to the email, we won’t be able to miss them –  they’ll be wearing their matching t-shirts.