Washington Notebook: Vets group backs Damon Martinez for Congress

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the VoteVets political action committee sponsored the television ad supporting Damon Martinez. The VoteVets Action Fund, a 501c(4) non-profit, paid for the ad.

WASHINGTON: VoteVets Action Fund – a progressive, pro-veteran advocacy group – will begin airing television ads in the Albuquerque market over the next week in an attempt to persuade Democrats to vote for Damon Martinez in the 1st Congressional District primary on June 5.

The $40,000 ad buy – much like Martinez’s own campaign ad launched on television last week – riffs on President Donald Trump’s former career as a reality television host on “The Apprentice.” It opens with footage of a younger Trump announcing “You’re fired” to an unknown contestant on the show.

The moment is meant to symbolize when Trump fired Martinez and 46 other U.S. attorneys in March 2017.

“Why did Donald Trump fire New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez?” an announcer intones. “Because Martinez prosecuted corporations that pollute our environment, because he cracked down on domestic violence and took assault weapons off the streets, because he fought for his fellow veterans and our families.

“It’s time to send Trump a message … our progressive values can’t be fired,” the announcer says as the ad closes.

In announcing the group’s endorsement of Martinez, Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of VoteVets, said Martinez “puts country and community first.”

“From signing up after Sept. 11, to deploying to the Middle East, to serving as U.S. attorney to uphold justice here at home, Damon’s committed his life to serving,” Soltz said in a statement. “Right now, we need that in Washington – someone who puts others above himself.”

ENDORSEMENT: Equality New Mexico, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, on Monday endorsed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., for governor of New Mexico.

The group also endorsed Democratic state Sen. Howie Morales for lieutenant governor. Equality New Mexico called Lujan Grisham “a tireless, decades-long advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in New Mexico and across the country,” and noted that in 2013 and 2014 she served as co-chairwoman of the New Mexico Unites for Marriage campaign, which help usher in gay marriage in New Mexico.

The Lujan Grisham endorsement comes on the heels of recent accusations by Riley Del Ray, a transgender former intern assigned to Lujan Grisham’s Capitol Hill office, that the congresswoman discriminated against her by firing her from the internship in 2015. Lujan Grisham maintains Del Rey was fired for poor job performance.

Michael Coleman: mcoleman@abqjournal.com


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