WASHINGTON – Two former leaders of the U.S. Senate – one Democrat and one Republican – will be in Albuquerque on Wednesday to lead a conversation on how to move past partisan bickering and gridlock for the sake of the community and the nation.
Former Sens. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, and Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, will headline the talk in conjunction with New Mexico First, a public policy organization celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Daschle served in the Senate from 1987 until 2004. Lott was a member of the chamber from 1989 until 2007. Both served in various leadership roles during their tenures, including majority leader.
Heather Balas, executive director of New Mexico First, said the group decided to invite the former federal lawmakers to New Mexico after the release last year of their book “Crisis Points: Why We Must – and How We Can – Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America.” The senators, who were in opposing parties but became friends and advanced legislation together before leaving the Senate, have wisdom to impart at a time of deep partisan divisions not only in Congress, but in state legislatures and even on Facebook, Balas said.
“How can we advance a really collaborative, constructive governmental system and move away from this culture of partisan bickering?” Balas asked, describing the theme of Wednesday’s discussion. “We thought it would be an opportunity for community leaders, as well as elected officials in New Mexico, to engage in a deeper way and learn from these federal leaders.”