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Monday, July 28, 2008

NM-02: A Visit with Harry Teague in Hobbs

Teague tells us why he's running for Congress

This is a bit long, but bear with me. There's a reason I have a lot to say about Harry Teague.

A week ago Sunday we drove back in a meandering fashion from Netroots Nation in Austin. We stopped overnight in the Hobbs area so we could visit with NM-02's Dem candidate for Congress. Last Monday, Harry Teague and staffer Michael Huerta graciously welcomed us and offered up several hours of their time to talk life experience and politics.

There was lots of lively conversation, funny anecdotes, a tour of Harry's haunts in Hobbs -- old and new, personal and business -- lunch at Dan's Mexican restaurant and a visit to Teague's well organized campaign office in Hobbs. (There's another one in Las Cruces.) Oh, and we learned that the entire state of Pennsylvania could fit into New Mexico's huge Second District with room to spare. I wonder if the pundits and strategists back East understand that fact. It's a hard one to grasp.

Harry Teague at his Hobbs campaign office

I had never met Harry Teague before and I have to say it was a real pleasure. I'm like most progressives I know. I supported Bill McCamley in the Dem primary down South. But now that I've spent some time with Mr. Teague I can honestly say I can support him with enthusiasm in the general election. Perhaps even more important -- I genuinely believe he can win. Imagine New Mexico with Democrats representing all three Congressional Districts. It can happen, but only if we vigorously support all three of our Dem Congresional candidates. All three.

My take on the Dem Red to Blue candidate in the Second District?  He's smart, modest, well informed, down to earth, hard-working, friendly and nuanced in his positions. It's clear that he relishes coming together with others and solving problems, not preaching or being preached to. I came away with the impression that he's one tough cookie of a candidate -- a practical pragmatist with a big dose of common sense and a streak that's decidedly progressive. He came across to me as somebody who genuinely cares about human beings regardless of their stations in life, ethnicity or background. I don't think you can fake that and be believable.

Teague shows off campaign photos of friends, family, supporters

Harry's into the common good -- its shows in so much of what he says and so much of what he's done over many years in his community. And he's careful to point out just how much he's gotten from his community in return, even when he lived in very modest circumstances. Teague says he's had fun his whole life, when he was poor and now that he's the opposite, and I believe him. He's not a guy who's comfortable spinning. He looks you in the eye when he talks. He doesn't wobble.

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Teague's campaign office in Hobbs. He also has one in Las Cruces.

Watch out Ed Tinsley -- Harry Teague is in it to win and he's determined to do it by reaching out to people from all walks of life in the District -- plainly saying what he believes in, and why. And he clearly believes in the kind of all-American family and community values that Dems have long supported, and to which too many Republicans have paid only cynical lip service while pretending they have the high ground.

What came up most often in our conversations? How we can get the country back on the right track and rebuild our middle class, our working class, the opportunities available to ordinary people. We certainly need more of that in Washington. Much more.

Lunch at Dan's restaurant, where the locals love the food (and so did we)

Harry drove us around the humble neighborhoods in Hobbs where he grew up, and which prompted many warm memories on his part. Born on a small farm in Oklahoma, Harry, his three siblings and his parents moved to Hobbs in 1959 and lived in tiny trailers, small buildings behind gas stations where he father worked and in very modest houses, moving often. He was raised in Anglo neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhods, African-American neighborhoods -- and he has many friends from those places to this day. In fact, Teague still lives in a modest neighborhood, in a modest home. Pretentious he's not. Things don't seem to motivate him. People do.

Staffer Michael Huerta, who grew up in Las Cruces, at the office

Teague also showed us the oil services companies he built from scratch, explaining how he started in the oil fields doing physical labor at a young age. He had to drop out of high school to help support his family when his dad became ill. He's come a long way on hard work, good planning and an honest reputation, and he's proud of it. He's also proud of treating his 250+ employees right -- paying them a generous wage, providing them with good health care coverage and helping their children go to college.

He had nothing good to say about his GOP rival's continual bad-mouthing of a decent minimum wage. Ed Tinsley owns restaurants, represented the National Restaurant Association for years and sees the minimum wage as his enemy. It's evident that, unlike Teague, he has no interest in anything called the common good or economic fairness. Tinsley's a grabber, through and through. Period. He's got his and he's gonna keep it that way. And he spends almost all of his time out of the district, up in Santa Fe and beyond. Tinsely and the interests of the people in the Second District are miles and miles apart.

The NAACP Silver Lifetime Membership awards Harry and his wife, Nancy, received last year

Besides a keen passion for economic justice, Teague is very excited about bringing his experience in the energy field into play in Washington. A firm believer in the need for an Apollo-like project to develop renewable energy, Harry spoke a lot about his interest in being a sort of bridge in Congress -- between our present energy system and the one we'll be transitioning to in the coming years. He says he understands the energy business and can be a conduit for knowlege that can help us change to new methods and fuels without destroying the lucrative jobs we have now from energy development.

"We have to find a way to switch to alternative energy, but we also have to find an alternative tax base," says Harry.

He sees wonderful opportunities for wind and solar energy in the Western part of the huge 2nd District, near Lordsburg and Zuni Pueblo, for instance. He knows the oil business, but he also knows a lot about what we need to do to craft a new way of powering our communities. I found that very impressive. And valuable when he goes to Washington.


Harry in front of what used to be Will Rogers Elementary where he had a crush, along with everyone else, on Diane Daniels, now Denish

Teague also pointed out his top-notch track record of bringing jobs to the area while he served eight years on the Lea County Commission. He ended up chairing the Commission even though most members were Republicans. Teague is definitely a person who takes reaching out across the aisle seriously so important things can get done. Helping communities and workers is his number one priority and he's had a lot of experience doing just that.

Teague said, "It's a heady feeling thinking about how this next Congress may get to do more than any Congress since 1932, and I’ll get to be a part of it. That’s humbling. We can do more good for the people of the U.S. in the next few years than anyone since the early '30s. We'll have a chance to set our course on the right track in terms of energy, immigration, ending the war, heath care, education, jobs and more. I want to be a part of that if I can."

I hope he is -- representing New Mexico's Second Congressional District with honesty and care. I don't agree with Harry Teague on every issue, but I do agree with him on where we need to go on all the important issues, and how to get there quick. I'd like to urge all of McCamley's former supporters to give Teague a chance and help NM-02 gain Democratic representation for the first time since 1981. We need all of New Mexico's members of Congress supporting the change and renewal that an Obama presidency can bring to the forefront. We need Harry Teague, along with Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan, Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman. How about it?

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Two of Teague's companies, the Hobbs sign, Teague for Congress

Harry Teague is a True Blue New Mexico candidate. Please do what you can to help him get elected in November.

Click on photos for larger versions. All photos and video by M.E. Broderick.

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July 28, 2008 at 07:48 PM in NM-02 Congressional Race 2008 | Permalink


Thanks for giving Teague a chance to prove what a great guy he is. I was a Kissling supporter first, a bit upset with McCamley for jumping in against Pearce (as I didn't thing EITHER of them had a chance against SP). I became a Teague supporter after hearing his speech at our Otero county pre-primary convention. Character counts with me.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Jul 29, 2008 6:42:57 AM

This is another excellent post. It made me look at Teague from a different angle. I agree we can win this race if we all pitch in.

Posted by: Old Dem | Jul 29, 2008 7:14:19 PM

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