PAC will support moderate Democrats - Albuquerque Journal

PAC will support moderate Democrats

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A new political action committee says it will back moderate Democrats in a host of contested primary races this year and support the challengers taking on at least two incumbents in the state House.

The announcement comes after the Legislature grew more progressive over the past four years as challengers defeated eight Democratic incumbents.

Louie Sanchez

The Working Together New Mexico PAC was announced Monday by Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez and former Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya.

James Hallinan, who has worked for Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas and others, is the committee’s executive director.

The PAC said it will push to elect “commonsense” Democrats in races for six House seats, two statewide offices and a Bernalillo County Commission district.

“It’s time for politicians to stop pandering to the far extremes and start solving our multitude of problems at home in New Mexico,” Sanchez said in a written announcement.

Sanchez is a business owner and retired Albuquerque police officer who won election to the City Council last year.

The group’s financial backers aren’t yet clear. Its first campaign report is due next month.

Sanchez said the group looks forward to financial “support from fellow commonsense Democrats and the business community from around the state.”

Candidates facing opposition by the PAC vigorously pushed back Monday on the characterization that they don’t match ordinary New Mexicans’ values.

Democratic state Rep. Roger Montoya of Velarde – facing a primary challenge from former Rep. Joseph Sanchez, who was endorsed by the new PAC – said he has stood up to progressives in his party when they go too far.

Montoya voted, for example, against legislation to establish a clean fuel standard – a proposal that died on a tie vote this year. He described his record as moderate.

“My votes reflect the people, the needs, and the hearts and minds of rural New Mexico,” Montoya said.

He and Sanchez are facing off in House District 40, which stretches from the outskirts of Española and Chimayó to the Colorado border.

The PAC is also supporting a challenger to Democratic Rep. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe. The group endorsed Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal in District 46, which includes Pojoaque and parts of northern Santa Fe, Española and Chimayó.

A third candidate, Ryan Erik Salazar, is also running for the Democratic nomination.

Romero, the parliamentarian in the House, said Monday that she isn’t surprised to see “conservative forces” in the state lining up to support one of her opponents.

“Our politics and ideas couldn’t be more different,” she said. “I’m proud to run on my progressive Democratic values against corporate interests funding Mr. Roybal.”

The Working Together PAC is registered as an independent expenditure committee, meaning it cannot coordinate with any other candidate’s campaign.

All 70 House seats are on the ballot this year. The Senate is up every four years, with the next cycle in 2024.

Democrats have grown their majority in the House from a 38-32 advantage over Republicans in 2017 to 45-24 this year, plus one independent. At least three Democrats lost primary challenges over that period.

On the Senate side, Democrats have held their numbers roughly steady, but five anti-abortion incumbents lost to challengers in 2020, moving the Senate Democratic caucus to the left.

Democrats have a 26-15-1 edge in the Senate.

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