ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s now a new political party in the state, the New Mexico Working Families Party. It’s a minor party but they’ve already made big waves in this past primary election. This new group considers themselves a progressive party focused on working family issues. They said they’re willing to partner with Democrats and Republicans who share their goals.
Outside of the three major parties: the Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians, New Mexico’s three minor parties are the Green Party, the Constitution Party and the Better for America Party. Now, the state has added a fourth to the minor group: the New Mexico Working Families Party.
“We like to use the word ‘progressive’ but we like to say ‘working families’ because it’s much broader than using ‘progressive’ values,” said the New Mexico Director of the Working Families Party, Eric Griego. “That include things like a living wage, universal healthcare, medicare for all is one thing we support.”
New Mexico’s new minor party is already established in states like New York and Connecticut but they’re pushing for more democrats here in New Mexico if those Dems share their values. Just this past primary election, the group was able to unseat incumbent Democrats in key leadership positions and trying to replace them with candidates they endorse. They un-seated Senate Pro-Tempore Mary Kay Papen and the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, John Arthur Smith.
“In the Democratic primary that just passed, we worked very very hard to elect Democrats in the primary who shared our values and there were several incumbents who were frankly out of touch with what even democrats say and believe in,” said Griego.
The party is also pushing for open primaries to include voters who’ve registered with minor parties and they want to push what’s called ‘fusion’ voting.
“If you, for example, are an elected official or want to be an elected official or you want to be an elected official and you say, ‘I agree with this democratic candidate, this democratic platform and this working families platform, why couldn’t I run as both,’ which is what happens in New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Oregon, in many many states,” said Griego.
Republicans said they believe this new wave of progressives could hurt the Democratic party.
“I think the Democratic voters will be looking for someone to represent their traditional values in New Mexico and the progressives do not represent those traditional values,” said the Chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico, Steve Pearce.
“New Mexico has a lot of issues today,” said Rep. James Townsend (R- Artesia). “We need to worry about issues facing New Mexico and all those families that are hurting. Sounds to me like there’s more dissension in the Democrat party.”
Some Democrats think otherwise.
“I think there’s a lot of safety in our party that includes a lot of wonderful viewpoints like progressives who contribute to the conversations within the Democratic party,” said Communications Director of the New Mexico Democratic Party, Miranda van Dijk. “We do think there is room in our party for those discussions and those viewpoints as well.”
The Working Families Party said they are trying to get one incumbent Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, on the ballot as the state’s first ‘fusion’ vote for the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party. News 13 reached out to the Senator but did not make contact. After this special session, lawmakers agreed that independent voters could cast their ballots in the primary elections if they register with a major party by election day.
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