The Lessons on Recalls; Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin – Similarities and Differences
“Recall” is the mantra yelled by those not happy with the actions of politicians. Daily we hear recall the governor, recall the commissioner, recall, recall, recall. The threat of a recall can has consequences on an incumbent politician and can hamper their reputation and ability to govern or lead.
In New Mexico, the recall effort of Otero County Commissioner, Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump has garnered local, state, and national media attention. In California the recall effort to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom, once the most popular politician in California just ended as a $300 Million dollar debacle for the Republican party of California. The taxpayers are forced to pick up the $300 Million dollar tab for the “special election” that just concluded with Newsom overwhelmingly remaining in office.
What are lessons learned from the recall of Newsom, and are there any parallels with the soon to conclude effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin.
The Governor of California, Gavin Newson; represented the largest economy in America, the 5th largest in the world, the most prosperous state in wealth generation and the engine that drives the American economy via Silicon Valley; so yes, much is at risk when a governor of California failed the competency test. A former governor of California was successfully recalled, Gray Davis, leading to the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the office of governor but that is because of the electric crises, and he could not keep the lights on for business thus the California economy was at risk
Couy Griffin, as County Commissioner of Otero County represents a district within Southern New Mexico that was once the home and the center of America’s space race, nuclear program and contained a school system ranked in the top 10 in the nation. His district in the 60s thru 80’s, while rural, was like California in the concentration of scientist, researchers, innovation and was a center of military industrial collaboration and commerce. Now, however, the district has transitioned to one with increasingly dilapidated buildings, a drain of a qualified and educated work force compared to its past. The district contains one of the lowest vaccination rates and some of highest high school dropout rates in Southern, New Mexico and a lot of blame against the governor and northern New Mexico for the problems plaguing the district.
Mr. Griffin has been a lightening rod of controversy from his affiliation as leader of Cowboys for Trump to missteps in rhetoric that often gets him in trouble, and his handling of campaign finances and those around Cowboys for Trump. These have been lightening rod issues which provide poor optics politically.
What does Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin have in common that led both to battle a recall effort?Both had a significant issue with optics and understanding voter perceptions.
Mr. Newsom before a statewide lockdown was seen eating at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the US, the French Laundry, celebrating the birthday of a close friends and ally. He implemented policies that were viewed by many as harsh, over reactive, and harmful to business.
In retrospect, yes indeed he was insensitive and created very poor optics thus deserved to be called on his actions. But at a cost of $300 Million to the taxpayers? That’s not quite an example of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer sensitivity by the Republican machine.
Economics are showing that when it came down to his policies, over the longer term, the state of California has bounced back stronger than ever, with the largest budget surplus ever and an economy that is churning stronger than at any time since it was founded. Wealth creation is at an all time high and business interests embrace Mr. Newsom because he himself was a connected and prosperous business owner and operator of high-end resorts, wineries, and restaurants. He came from a history of wealth generation and job creation thus the policies he implemented impacted his business interest directly, and he also felt the pain of those decisions. His net worth when entering the governor’s mansion was estimated as at least $20 Million.
The business community never turned-on Newsom, thus the overwhelming rejection of his recall and a failure by the Republican Party of California to unseat him.
Was Katilyn Jenner and Larry Elder the best the Republican party could do to unseat Newsom? If that is the best and the brightest of California’s Republican party, then the Republican party of California certainly has some soul searching to do. Sadly, the taxpayers of California must pick up the $300 Million dollar tab of this debacle.
Back to Commissioner Griffin, he is embroiled in the final weeks of the effort to get a recall question on the ballot. So far with less than 2 weeks left in the effort it appears Griffin may very well survive the recall effort without a vote ever getting on the ballot. Signature collection is sluggish at best. There will be entertaining commentary once the signature drive is over as the real stories of behind the scenes come to light.
Like Newsom, Commissioner Griffin has a horrible problem with optics and the public perception of his behaviors. Yet, he does not seem to care.
With the deadline of the recall fast approached he appears emboldened and as such is speaking his mind more, traveling in spectacle with his horse red and the American flag near Holloman Airforce Base this past week, and a trip to Montana in the works. He made statements at the most recent County Commission meeting that his opponents felt were “unbecoming of a commissioner.”
Will Couy Griffin survive the recall? As of September 7th, the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin had 991 of the 1574 required. The deadline for signatures is September 28th and then assuming 1574 are valid then there would be a special election as the deadline for the November election was missed.
Will Couy prevail as Newsom did in California? Odds at this point are yes unless there is a sudden influx of valid signatures over the next 12 days.
History has proven recall elections are won and lost based on how the business community sides.
In the case of Gavin Newsom, the business community was tightly aligned with him. In Silicon Valley he received over 80% of the vote against recalling him. Even in Republican rich, Orange County, the election swayed to his favor. Business executives contributed heavy to his campaign and saw no need in a change to the status quo.
In Otero County where is the business community in relation to Commissioner Couy Griffin?
He has not proven to be an effective business leader or wealth generator. He claims to make less then $23K per year in salaries. He has not delivered skilled employment opportunities or high paying jobs to his district through any direct demonstrated successes. He attempted to get the Forestry Service to revisit lumber laws and forest management but that fell through during Covid. His ties with the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, now the Center of Commerce, are one of the contributing factors that led to the recall effort. One of the 5 accusations for the recall, is that his travels to DC were not county business, and the county should not pay. To bail him out the Chamber “passed the hat,” Couy’s term. That hat passing, created a flurry of investigations with the County and Secretary of State and was a contributing factor to Couy’s issue of recall.
Alamogordo and Otero County business interest seem to be silent on the recall of Couy. No major corporate contributions have been disclosed to this point, no statements in support of the recall by the area’s largest employers, no endorsement of the recall by the Center of Commerce but equally silent is no loud voice of support. Basically the business community is absent in this fight though the County Commission controls a good deal of government leverage in interfacing with state and feds on redevelopment funding and infrastructure improvement.
So, what does Commissioner, Couy Griffin and California Governor Gavin Newsom have in common?
Though political ideological opposites that are united in common purpose, to survive a recall.
Both failed to understand the public outcry that can result from poor optics or poor management of their image as political leaders.
What one says and does matters to the public.
Both were temporarily weakened by the recall efforts, but both are now feeling a new sense of embodiment toward their ideology and beliefs as the result of victory or potential victory over the recall efforts.
Both enriched their campaign or personal coffers because of the recall efforts and the publicity around them.
Newsom brought in over $70 Million into his campaign coffers and has a large chunk remaining unused.
Griffin going into the recall claimed he was broke, lost his wife, almost lost his C4T Pickup Truck and his horse- Red, thanks to fundraising efforts led by the controversial Ben Bergquam Frontline America with alleged ties to the Proud Boys. Via Bergquam’s fundraising efforts for Griffin, Griffin has $41,142 in a funds of the $50K fundraising goal that Bergquam created for him.
Both love the media spotlight.
Newsom is the “pretty face” of the progressive movement and is a media darling
Griffin is the lightening rod cowboy for Trumpian ideology, on a horse, attending rallies around the country.
Both got a pass from the business community
Couy got a disinterested business community that for the most part is waiting out the recall effort and is staying mute in dialog and direct fundraising.
Gavin Newsom got a bounce and significant funding to maintain his role from the business community.
What the recall movement has done is it has brough two politicians, opposite on almost every topic, but united in a battle to win over the prevailing winds of a recall effort.
Newsom won his effort to stay and prevailed. September 28th is D Day for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin. Will he prevail and join the club of recall survivors with Gavin Newsom? Stay tuned…
On the back Soledad C. Chacón climbs the New Mexico Round House and the Congressional Delegation of Rep. Deb Haaland, Yvette Herrell and Teresa Leger Fernandez
Was 2014 the flashpoint for women in executive leadership and politics for the state of New Mexico? A lot of dialog has been created about the number women in politics in New Mexico of recent but not much has been published about the pathway that led to the success of women in power. There are a few key leaders, key organizations and the path fell on the backbone or foundation of some strong and determined women to get New Mexico to where it is now. Not only is it a leader in the number of women in political power it is also the national leader of women of color in political power. Let us look at a little insight into the history of what created the pathway to female equity in New Mexico political leadership.
The history of women impacting New Mexico politics begins in excess of 100 years ago…
New Mexico during its founding had been among the more politically conservative states in the West when it came to women’s suffrage, refusing to extend women the right to vote until after the passage of the 19th Amendment. The fight for women’s suffrage in New Mexico was incremental and had the support of both Hispanic and Anglo women suffragists. When New Mexico was a territory, women only had the right to vote in school board elections. Women under the Republic of Mexico in the land that became New Mexico had more rights than women in the United States did at the time. During the time that New Mexico was a territory of the United States, women were allowed to vote in school board elections.
The New Mexico State Constitutional Convention of 1910…
In 1910, New Mexico was eligible to become a state and a state constitutional convention was held. Just before the convening of the convention, the New Mexico Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) held a public debate on women’s suffrage. This debate took place in August in Mountainair, New Mexico and featured the president of the University of New Mexico and a socialist.
Most delegates to the convention did not women participating in politics. Nevertheless, during the convention which began on October 3, librarian, Julia Duncan Brown Asplund, attended each day and petitioned delegates to provide partial suffrage for women in the right to vote in school elections Delegate Solomon Luna, uncle of prominent New Mexican suffragist, Nina Otero-Warren, and H.O Bursum were both pro-suffrage.
Delegate Reuben Heflin, a Democrat from Farmington introduced the school election provision early on during the convention. On November 8, the convention’s Committee on Elective Franchise sponsored a “motion to strike out the limited franchise for women.” Two of the delegates were very opposed to women voting even in school elections were Delegates Dougherty and Sena. Dougherty stated that he didn’t believe women in New Mexico wanted to vote and Sena claimed that voting would lead to harm for women.
After this, the Woman’s Club of Albuquerque presented a petition for partial suffrage to the convention through Delegate Stover. The provision to allow women to vote did pass and was adopted in the final draft of the constitution which was passed on November 21. However, the constitution was also written in such a way that adding other voting rights would be difficult. The constitution required that three-fourths of all voters in each county in New Mexico would have to approve any changes to suffrage in the state.
When New Mexico created its state constitution in 1910, it continued to allow women to vote only in school elections. Upon creation of the state constitution, it was deemed impossible to modify the constitution to extend the voting rights of women any further.
Women in the suffrage fight in the state of New Mexico chose to pursue advocating for a federal women’s suffrage amendment. They organized among both English and Spanish speaking groups from the Alfred M. Bergere House which is on the National Register of Historic Places. That house was the flashpoint and the origin of the suffrage movement in New Mexico. The home originally built in the early 1870s on the Fort Marcy Military Reservation became the home of the Otero Bergere family, including Adelina (Nina) Otero Warren, a noted suffragist, author, and businesswoman. Her suffrage work in New Mexico caught the attention of suffrage leader Alice Paul, who tapped Nina in 1917 to head the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union (precursor to the National Woman’s Party). Nina insisted that suffrage literature be published in both English and Spanish, in order to reach the widest audience. Under their leadership in galvanizing women of color to unite with Caucasian women pressure then was put on the many male New Mexico politicians who then were forced to support suffrage on a federal level. Continued advocacy on behalf of suffragists in the state allowed New Mexico to become the 32nd state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment on February 21, 1920.
The Nations First Female Statewide Office Holder A New Mexican and a Woman of Color…
In 1922, two years after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote, the people of New Mexico elected Soledad Chávez de Chacón (August 10, 1890–August 4, 1936) as the first woman elected to be the Secretary of State of New Mexico, and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States.
She served as acting Governor of New Mexico for two weeks in 1924, becoming the second woman to act as chief executive of a U.S. state.
The Growth Curve and Roadblock to Women In Politics…
The trend of women in political power continued to grow in New Mexico. The trends favored a growth of women in political office nationwide. In New Mexico and nationally the proportion of women among statewide elective officials had grown substantially during the 1960s to 1971. From 1971 to 1983 the increases were small and incremental. Then, between 1983 and 2000, a period of significant growth, the number and proportion of women serving statewide almost tripled, reaching a record of 92 women, constituting 28.5 percent of all statewide elected officials, in 2000. Since 2000, the numbers and proportions dropped notably. As a result, dialog began on what to do to help train and groom women for leadership and into political office.
The decline in women statewide elected officials continued following the 2010 elections. Despite the election of three new women governors, the number of women serving in statewide elective offices nationwide actually decreased by two, and fewer women, 69 held statewide offices in 2011 than in 1995 when there were 84 women.
A review of the 2010 election results in 2011 showed some major issues of concern, women held 21.8 percent of the 317 statewide elective positions nationwide. In addition to the six women governors, 11 women (four Democrat, seven Republican) served as lieutenant governors in the 44 states that elect lieutenant governors in statewide elections. This was considerably fewer than the record number of 19 women who served as lieutenant governors in 1995.
Other women statewide elected officials included: 11 secretaries of state (eight Democrats, three Republicans), seven state auditors (five Democrats, two Republicans), six state treasurers (five Democrats, one Republican), seven attorneys general (five Democrats, two Republicans), five chief education officials (two Democrats, two Republicans, one nonpartisan), four public service commissioners (three Democrats, one Republican), four state comptroller/controllers (one Democrat, three Republicans), two commissioners of insurance (one Democrat, one Republican), three corporation commissioners (one Democrat, two Republicans), one commissioner of labor (Republican), one railroad commissioner (Republican), and one public regulatory commissioner (Democrat).
In addition to the two women of color who served as governors, the women serving in statewide elective office included four African-Americans (the lieutenant governor of Florida, the attorney general of California (Kamala Harris), the state treasurer of Connecticut and the corporation commissioner of Arizona); three Latinas (the secretary of state of New Mexico, the attorney general of Nevada and the superintendent of public instruction for Oregon); and one Native American (the public regulatory commissioner of New Mexico).
The decreases of women in politics became and alarming trend not only in the US but south of the border in the country of Mexico as well. However, they took an interesting approach and made it the law of the land to engage more women into leadership…
The country of Mexico approved a political reform package that, among other things, included new measures aimed to ensure the greater participation of women in politics in 2014. The law now requires gender parity, which means that at least fifty percent of the candidates fielded by a political party in either federal or state legislative elections must be female.
Mexico had a history of encouraging the participation of women in politics and has impressive rates of participation in the federal Congress. Women in 2014 accounted for 38% of the legislators in Mexico’s lower house and 35% of the senators, rates in line with the Nordic countries (in 2014 the US, 18% of the seats in the House of Representatives and 20% of the Senate seats are filled by women). Mexico’s high rate of female participation is due in large part to previous affirmative action policies, which included several loopholes that the new law closes. Formerly, in order to comply with established quotas, women who were put on the ballot were later encouraged to cede their place to a male listed as a reserve replacement (oftentimes their husband) –the political party’s preference in the first place. Furthermore, women were included on the list to be assigned by their party under proportional representation but were so far down in the pecking order that they were rarely tapped to serve.
The new reform increased the quota requirement for candidates to 50%, with more stringent rules related to how the quota is implemented. Now, for example, the candidate and her replacement will have to be female.
Demographics favor women and most especially women of color in New Mexico…
The state of New Mexico took notice of what was happening in the country south of her border and of the trends within the United State. It was determined demographics actually work in the favor of women in key states such as New Mexico. As such women especially the Democratic leadership reviewed options in keys states such as New Mexico.
New Mexico’s population is a majority Latino or Hispanic and an additional 11 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, making it one of the few states, in which most of its residents, are non-white. The Latino population has grown over the past few decades, meaning a Chicanx or Latina candidates share a similar ethnic background now with a majority of the population.
The percentage of racial and ethnic minorities — people who identify as Hispanic, black, Asian, or “other” — in New Mexico eclipsed the percentage of white residents’ way back in 1994. California, New Mexico, and Texas were not far behind.
And by the year 2060, a total of 22 states are projected to have what demographers call, somewhat oxymoronically, “majority-minority” populations.
Four states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey — are set to tip in the 2020s. In the 2030s, Alaska, Louisiana, and New York will follow. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Virginia will obtain race-ethnic majority-minority status in 2040s. And Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington are on track to make it in the 2050s.
New Mexico as one of the first majority-minority states is the trendsetter into the future of politics…
New Mexico politics has also become increasingly dominated by Democrats, which may have helped some women of color, as women of color are disproportionately likely to run — and win — on the Democratic side of the ticket. But recruiting women of color has also become a higher priority for groups that aim to propel more women into elected office, like Emerge, a national Democratic organization that opened an office in New Mexico in 2005. Emerge New Mexico, claims that over the past 14 years, 350 women have gone through their six-month training program. Of those, over half have run for office and over half of the program members are also women of color. 98 Emerge New Mexico Alumnae are actively in Public Office per their 2020 data on their website to include…
U.S. Cabinet Secretary
Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, ENM ’07;
New Mexico Statewide Office
Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard Commissioner of Public Lands, ENM ’08; Chair Marg Elliston Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, ENM ’13
New Mexico Supreme Court
Justice Barbara Vigil, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, ENM ’12; Justice Julie Vargas, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, Statewide, ENM ’14; Justice Shannon Bacon New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, ENM Founding Board Member
New Mexico Court of Appeals
Judge Jennifer Attrep New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’15: Judge Kristina Bogardus New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’17; Judge Megan Duffy Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18; Judge Shammara Henderson New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’10; Judge Jacqueline Medina New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’14; Judge Jane Yohalem New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18
Senator Shannon Pinto Senate District 3, Tohatchi, ENM ’20; Senator Katy Duhigg Senate District 10, Albuquerque, ENM ’11; Senator Siah Correa Hemphill Senate District 28, Albuquerque, ENM ’19; Senator Carrie Hamblen Senate District 38, Albuquerque, ENM ’15
Rep. D. Wonda Johnson House District 5, Gallup, ENM ’14; Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero House District 13, Albuquerque, ENM ’07; Rep. Dayan “Day” Hochman-Vigil House District 15, Albuquerque, ENM ’18; Rep. Debbie Armstrong House District 17, Albuquerque, ENM ’12; Rep. Meredith Dixon House District 20, Albuquerque, ENM ’20; Rep. Debbie Sariñana House District 21, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Liz Thomson House District 24, Albuquerque, ENM ’09; Rep. Georgene Louis House District 26, Albuquerque, ENM ’10; Rep. Marian Matthews House District 27, Albuquerque, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Rep. Melanie Stansbury House District 28, Albuquerque, ENM ’17; Rep. Joy Garratt House District 29, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Natalie Figueroa, House District 30, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Angelica Rubio House District 35, Las Cruces, ENM ’13; Rep. Joanne Ferrary House District 37, Las Cruces, ENM ’13; Rep. Kristina Ortez House District 42, Las Cruces, ENM ’20; Rep. Christine Chandler House District 43, Los Alamos, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Rep. Linda Serrato House District 45, Las Cruces, ENM ’18; Rep. Andrea Romero House District 46, Santa Fe, ENM ’18; Rep. Tara Lujan House District 48, Santa Fe, ENM ’12; Rep. Karen Bash House District 68, Albuquerque, ENM ’18
Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne 1st Judicial District, Div II, ENM ’16; Judge Shannon Broderick Bulman 1st Judicial District, Div III, ENM ’19; Judge Sylvia Lamar 1st Judicial District, Div IV, ENM ’15; Judge Kathleen McGarry Ellenwood 1st Judicial District, Div X, ENM ’20; Judge Catherine Begaye 2nd Judicial District, Children’s Court, ENM ’14; Judge Beatrice Brickhouse 2nd Judicial District, Div IV, ENM ’10 Judge Nancy Franchini 2nd Judicial District, Div V, ENM ’14; Judge Lisa Chavez Ortega 2nd Judicial District, Div XIII, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Marie Ward 2nd Judicial District, Div XIV, ENM ’06 Judge Erin O’Connell 2nd Judicial District, Div XVII, ENM ’19; Judge Amber Chavez Baker 2nd Judicial District, Div XXII, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Debra Ramirez 2nd Judicial District, Div XXIV, ENM ’15; Judge Jane Levy 2nd Judicial District, Div XXV, ENM ’17; Judge Clara Moran 2nd Judicial District, Div XXVIII, ENM ’16; udge Melissa Kennelly 8th Judicial District, Div IX, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos 13th Judicial District, Div IX, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Rosemary Cosgrove Aguilar Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’08; Judge Brittany Maldonado Malott Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’19; Judge Courtney Weaks Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’13; Judge Elizabeth Allen Municipal Judge, District 32, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Judge Cristy Carbón-Gaul Probate Court Judge, Bernalillo County, ENM Founding Board Member
Councilor Diane Gibson Albuquerque City Councilor, District 7, ENM ’11, Councilor Tessa Abeyta-Stuve Las Cruces City Councilor, District 2, ENM ’18; Councilor Johana Bencomo Las Cruces City Councilor, District 4, ENM ’18; Councilor Renee Villarreal Santa Fe County Councilor, ENM ’18; Councilor Guadalupe Cano Silver City Town Councilor, ENM ’11
Assessor Tanya Giddings Bernalillo County Assessor, ENM ’14; Assessor Linda Gallegos Sandoval County Assessor, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Clerk Linda Stover Bernalillo County Clerk, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Clerk Amanda López Askin Doña Ana County Clerk, ENM ’19; Clerk Katharine Clark Santa Fe County Clerk, ENM ’17; Clerk Naomi Maestas Los Alamos County Clerk, ENM ’20; Treasurer Nancy Bearce Bernalillo County Treasurer, ENM ’14; Treasurer Jennifer Manzanares Santa Fe County Treasurer, ENM ’19; Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty Bernalillo County Commission, District 5, ENM ’18; Commissioner Adriann Barboa Bernalillo County Commissioner, District 3, ENM ’17; Commissioner Diana Murillo-Trujillo Doña Ana County Commissioner, District 2, ENM ’15; Commissioner Alicia Edwards Grant County Commissioner, District 3, ENM ’15; Commissioner Sara Scott Alamos County Councilor, Position 1, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Commissioner Katherine Bruch Sandoval County Commissioner, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Commissioner Anna Hansen Santa Fe County Commissioner, District 2, ENM ’14; Commissioner Anna Hamilton Santa Fe County Commissioner, District 4, ENM ’16; Commissioner Anjanette Brush Taos County Commissioner, District 4, ENM ’19
Yolanda Cordova APS Board of Education, District 1, ENM ’18; Elizabeth Armijo APS Board of Education, District 6, ENM ’09; Nancy Baca CNM Governing Board, District 5, ENM ’10; Teresa Tenorio Las Cruces School Board, District 4, ENM ’18; Chris Bernstein Los Alamos School Board, District 3, ENM ’18; Mara Salcido Lovington School Board, District 3, ENM ’15; Hilda Sanchez Roswell School Board, District 4, ENM ’17; Jody Pugh Santa Fe Community College Board of Trustees, Position 3, ENM ’18; Carmen Gonzales Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education, ENM ’18; Kate Noble Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education, District 3, ENM ’17; M. Paulene Abeyta To’hajiilee School Board, ENM ’17
Flora Lucero Bernalillo County Democratic Party, Chair, ENM ’19; Laura Childress Lincoln County Democratic Party, 1st Vice-Chair, ENM ’20; Leah Ahkee-Baczkiewcz Sandoval County Democratic Party, Vice-Chair, ENM ‘18
Middle Rio Grande Conservation District
Stephanie Russo Baca MRGCD Board Director, Position 5, ENM ‘19
Soil and Water Conservation District
Teresa Smith De Cherif Valencia Soil & Water Conservation District Board Supervisor, ENM ‘14
New Mexico Women by the Numbers after 2020…
Many women are now being elected as witnessed by this training of groups like Emerge and the training paid off in strong numbers in 2020. After the election of 2020, the real story in New Mexico is, it was the year of the woman and the year of the woman of color. Women made state history by winning most seats in the New Mexico State House of Representatives. Though still in the minority in the New Mexico Senate, women set a record in that chamber, too, with 12 seats. Out of 70 State Representatives, women now make up 37 of them on the house side, and of course the Governor is a woman.
New Mexico now ranks fourth in the nation for the ratio of women to men who will hold House chamber seats in January, said Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, per the Santa Fe New Mexican publication.
New Mexico continued to make its mark in political history by becoming the first state in history to elect an all-female delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. It also made history as the first state in the continental US to elect all three members of this historic delegation as also women of color. Incumbent Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Yvette Herrell (Republican) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (Democrat) in New Mexico’s three congressional districts were the three women elected. (Note Deb Haaland has since been appointed to the US Secretary of the Interior as the first Native American to hold that title, her seat is now up for special election) The first U.S. state to have an all women of color House delegation was Hawaii in 1990, when Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Pat Saiki (R-Hawaii) took office, however New Mexico is the first state to do so in the continental US.
Haaland is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and made history in 2018 when she became one of the first Native American congresswomen. Herrell is a member of the Cherokee nation and former N.M. state representative. Leger-Fernandez is the first woman and Latina to ever represent northern New Mexico in U.S. Congress.
Our hope our future New Mexico…
Each of the proud and deserving women have a long difficult road ahead of them to represent a diverse population within New Mexico. Much has been said about the poor rankings of the state in academics, the reliance upon the oil industry to keep the state budget afloat and the many challenges with crime and poverty within the state. The men proceeding these women have not made it an easy job for them to step into. However, the editorial staff of the publication has the hope that each of these 3 elected women and the 98 others in the variety of offices showcased above will step up to the challenges ahead. Our hope is they will reach across the isle and put partisan ideology aside and work together as women with compassion and strength to craft policy that carries New Mexico forward into jobs creation for the 21st Century.
Each woman highlighted in this article is a woman of convictions and of talent to gain the position they have ascended to. Our hope is they will read this, remember the battles of suffrage fought by Julia Duncan Brown Asplund, Alice Paul, Nina Otero-Warren and others from 1910 that gained them the right to hold the office they are in today and the right to vote. Our hope is they will honor the memory of Soledad Chávez de Chacón by leading, not pandering to special interest and money like the men have for so many decades but by honestly leading and listening to the diversity of constituents to put them there.
Are you up to the challenge?
Rep. Deb Haaland and her ultimate successor, D-N.M., Yvette Herrell (Republican) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (Democrat) the baton was handed to you. Now are you listening? Will you reach across the diversity that is New Mexico and represent all of the diverse opinion’s ideas and constituencies? Will you step up and above the fray and show that women can lead differently and with more compassion than men? History will be judging you and we hope it will be a kind judgement in the years ahead!
Soledad Chávez Chacón: A New Mexico Political Pioneer. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Printing Services. Retrieved August 27, 2020, “Woman Wielding Power: Pioneer Female State, Legislators”. nwhm.org. National Woman’s History Museum. Retrieved 23 March 2015., “National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Salvador Armijo House”. National Park Service. October 8, 1976., knowledgecenter.csg.org, Vox Media- Here’s when you can expect racial minorities to be the majority in each state, Five Thirty-Eight Why New Mexico Elects More Women of Color Than the Rest Of The Country, EMERGE, Ballotpedia, Wikipedia, NCLS.org, nmlegis.gov, AP News, MSN.com, US.gov