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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NM-01: Heinrich Connects With Local Bloggers


Last Thursday, Democratic Congressional candidate Martin Heinrich hosted a luncheon and discussion with eight local bloggers, including yours truly, at his campaign office at 6th and Gold in downtown Albuquerque. Besides good food and company, the 90-plus-minute meeting featured lots of back and forth discussion that was wide-ranging and inclusive. Here's how Martin opened the session (mp3):

I thought Heinrich was impressive indeed -- smart, open, clear-headed, reasonable, sincere, caring and an excellent listener. He has a thoughtful way of responding to questions on various issues that effectively weaves them into a cohesively damning picture of what Bush and company have been doing to our nation and our planet. And what a real Democrat in Congress can do to help change that and move us in a positive direction to begin solving problems rather than ignoring or making them worse. Heinrich's heart definitely seems to be in the right place, and he clearly sees the big picture.

In my opinion, Heinrich has excellent positions on the major issues, whether it's health care, getting out of Iraq, economic fairness, immigration or the environment, climate change and renewable energy. And these are --  make no mistake about it -- mainstream American positions as well. In poll after poll, it's been shown that the majority of our citizens agree with Democrats on almost every critical issue of the day. The challenge will be to make sure folks register to vote, cast their ballots and have their votes counted accurately.

From a review of my meeting notes:

Martin was born in Nevada and grew up on a small ranch-farm in Missouri. He's got a degree in mechanical engineering, but most of his jobs have been in the areas of youth, the environment and conservation. He's also been very active in grassroots activism in those areas. He served on the Albuquerque City Council for four years, including a term as Council President. He's now on a leave of absence from his position as New Mexico's National Resources Trustee.

Bringing People Together
Heinrich is most proud of his ability to bring together those with differing views to achieve consensus and solve problems. He cited as one example his recent success in uniting the archeological and development communities to achieve a long sought agreement on dealing with ruins discovered at building sites.

Martin believes he can use his people skills to reach out and negotiate with parties like oil and gas interests, the national labs and renewable energy proponents as we switch inevitably from a Cold War strategy to solving the challenges of global warming and energy independence. There are many areas where we need to work together to achieve change.

Gaining Widespread Support
He will draw on the contacts he has made in many walks of life and across the ethnic spectrum during his service on the City Council, and now on the Albuquerque-Bernalillo Water Board, for support. So far, he has more than 1,400 donors to his campaign fund, and about 93% of those are New Mexicans. He's one of the top ten fundraisers among Congressional candidates in open seat races nationwide.

Energy & Global Warming
He believes we're currently within a window of opportunity for taking steps critical to effectively addressing the global warming crisis, but that we must do so much more quickly than we have been. We must return to our core values to achieve sustainability, both environmentally and economically. The price of oil will continue rising, affecting many aspects of life. We must be innovative and flexible in our approach to problem-solving, and this can bring dramatic economic gains in terms of new "green collar" jobs, as well as an improved environment.

Iraq Occupation
He was strongly opposed to the Iraq invasion and occupation from the beginning and believes we must leave as soon as possible to allow the Iraqis to solve the problems that are causing a civil war. The huge sums we are spending in Iraq are stopping us from funding our critical needs at home.

Trade is never "free" and must be made "fair" if we are to lessen the gap between rich and poor that's been growing wider each year. He opposed CAFTA, for instance, because it doesn't level the playing field and instead causes a "race to the bottom" for labor, along with environmental degradation.

Immigration & Labor
Trade policies directly impact immigration. When worker pay and benefits are driven down or livelihoods are destroyed, as in Mexico, workers naturally want to resettle in places where economic conditions are better, like the U.S. However, because high numbers of immigrants can drive down wages, the middle class experiences insecurities and anxieties. We presently have an uncontrolled immigration system coupled with trade policies that cause a continual search for cheaper and cheaper labor. We need a comprehensive system with a clear path to citizenship, secure borders and penalties for employers that hire undocumented workers. We also need stronger labor organizing and a return of the rights that have been systematically weakened or destroyed by the National Labor Relations Board in recent years.

Note: Heinrich just received the first union endorsement of the campaign, from the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1563.

Food Security
Heinrich is also concerned about food security and diversifying food production so that we can get much more of our food from local producers. At present, huge conglomerates like Con Agra receive large subsidies that result in too much land being devoted to a single crop like corn or soy, instead of a balanced array of produce. This ties in with improved land use practices, fair trade and adopting better environmental policies.

Health Care
Heinrich strongly supports universal health care from a moral standpoint and as a right. He's open-minded about how to achieve that. The first step should be to build on what we have -- and what people have come to trust -- including expanding Medicare, Medicaid, VA and SCHIP coverage. We need to move away from the current model of employers providing coverage. While on the City Council, Henrich voted for the resolution in support of the Health Security Act.

December Fundraising Challenge
Heinrich's campaign just launched a fundraising challenge at his website, with a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of 2007. If you support his candidacy, now's the time to donate a few bucks to the cause.

Suzanne Prescott, who will soon be resuming her local radio show , provided the photo and sound bite used in this post. Thanks, Suzanne! Bloggers who participated included folks from Duke City Fix, m-pyre, Cocoposts, Albloggerque, NM FBIHOP, High Desert Reports, Insight New Mexico and, of course, DFNM. P.S. The meeting really was a lot more engaging than the expressions on our faces suggest!

To see our previous coverage of the NM-01 Congressional race, visit our archive.

December 11, 2007 at 10:27 AM in NM-01 Congressional Seat 2008, Web/Tech | Permalink


I've worked with Heinrich on some projects and found him just as you describe him. He's someone working for solutions not grandstanding.

Posted by: Anon. | Dec 11, 2007 7:54:58 PM

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