After more than 2,000 doors knocked, over 1,000 pieces of literature left at the doors, after countless 1-1 conversations with voters, after 8,000 pieces of narrowly targeted pieces of mail dropped, after more than 300 handsome #RubioNM35 pins given to supporters, after installing over 100 yard signs around the district, after participating in a dozen fundraisers and forums, and after slamming social media and supporter email lists, and after walking the streets to turn out 100s of last minute voters on Election Day, we left it to the voters.
#RubioNM35 campaign heard stories of pain and hopelessness–and we also heard stories of resilience, and people searching for a comeback. So many people showed up for me and this campaign. As we work towards November’s general election and beyond, my onely hope is that we continue to show up for our neighbors today and tomorrow and next week.
One thing I’ve been reflecting on is that we always ask the question of, “why don’t people vote?” Except the question we should be asking is, “Why aren’t we giving people a reason to vote?”
As I move onto the general election, it is clear that the conversation’s I have had at the doors the last six months will continue to dominate the next five months. The difference is that the conversations will expand to Independents and Republican’s. For most Democrats, this is a scary scenario–but I am so excited about this opportunity.
I know that campaigns are supposed to be political, but when we are making decisions that impact everyone, we must operate from a place of values and non-partisan politics. At least I know I will.
I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but with a little honey and/or sugar, we can all agree that tea can always taste better than we thought.
Like the tight knot on my throat every time I walked up to a strangers door, worried that they would just slam it back in my face, and never did. I arrived as a stranger and left as a neighbor.
My heart pounding and racing a gazillion seconds a minute, at every forum or public event, spaces where Chicana women like me are rarely present, much less invited.
The constant aches and uncomfortable pains on my body, from working all day to pay the bills, to managing some self preservation by going to the gym and walking my dog, Lennon–all this before hitting at least 40 doors on a weeknight.
(I know dad, it wasn’t like working on the farm–but we’ll talk more later)
The intense sadness I would experience on weekends, when family and friends planned gatherings and I had to opt out to hit the doors.
Although these feelings were constant–they were real. And that was special.
I have lived most of my life living in my head. Telling myself that I have to know everything in order to be in these spaces. To be taken seriously.
But what this experience has done for me is allow me to feel. To feel joy and angst for stories from countless constituents who only want what’s best for themselves and their families–and crave human contact from such a disconnected community.
I experienced curiosity, something I’ve always known as a critical component to organizing, and yet this practice became more clear, especially when I listened to grown men nearly cry, sharing their stories of incarceration and a system that denies them reform.
I felt love from friends, family and supporters, who spent countless free hours to walk and talk to voters on my behalf–a feeling I always felt but never quite this deep.
Yes, this campaign began as a quest to win a seat in the New Mexico Legislature. A goal that I could tangibly reach if I met certain outcomes and deliverables. Heady thinking suggests that I did that–and if my math is correct, I will win my race tonight.
However, the biggest takeaway cannot be quantified. It cannot be counted. It can only be felt–and boy, did I feel. This race isn’t about me. This is about a community and the kind of community we want to live in.
I want to live in a community where all the stories I heard at the door have a fighting chance. And there is a fighting chance.
That’s my hope for today.
And the day after that.
Ok, so I am talking about another office.
Last night I finished watching the series, “The Office.”
The reason I mention this is because 1) I am sad that I have to say goodbye (yet again) to Jim and Pam and 2) it reminded me once again of how simple, and yet happy–life can actually be…outside of politics.
With 41 days left in this primary, I have been reflecting a lot on this entire process. Not just as a candidate, but as a woman of color who is trying to balance ego-mania and imposter syndrome, all at the same time.
Late at night, after a long day of work and RubioNM35, my favorite thing to come home to is another episode of this funny sitcom–coming at us from Scranton, PA. (Which by the way, today is the Pennsylvania primary)
I can’t lie. I sometimes ask myself, “couldn’t you just have worked in an office supply profession?”
Life would be so. much. easier.
When I first decided to run back in November, it was a tough decision and one that I did not take lightly. As an alumni of Emerge New Mexico, I have learned and toted that insane statistic of, “women must be asked seven times to run for office.” For yours truly, it took about 30,000,000 times.
And I finally said yes–on the condition that I would run on my own terms. As an organizer, there was no way that I would compromise my values just to win an election and I have remained solid in that promise.
Here is the thing. I am the candidate to beat in this primary. So it is no surprise that rumors are swirling about what sort of attacks will come my way during the end of this primary election season. And c’mon? I shouldn’t be surprised, right? It happened to my good friend and candidate during the non-partisan Las Cruces Municipal races back in November–when hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state money, trickled in, trying to defeat her and other progressive candidates in these races.
Let’s be real. I certainly expect it to happen in an election cycle like this one–where Republican’s have no viable presidential candidate and have no other option but to invest in state and local races. They will also try to do it in a primary, particularly supporting candidates that are less progressive than I am. Yes. Even in a democratic race. They obviously have the money for it.
Being politically involved in my community for most of my life, I understand that this is a game to a lot of people. Furthermore, this game is insanely expensive and in under 41 days, you will begin to see what that amount of money looks like and what it will buy. It will be disgusting.
You will also see what they will do to me–and many other good people like me, just as they have done to those that have come before me. As sad and upsetting that might be, I will be ok. I have family, friends and supporters who know what I stand for and are committed. Win or lose. We will all survive this–and so will every other woman who ever decides to take on this very hard and yet important role. We need you.
Then….together, we’ll change the shit out of politics for the long run. And for good.
So yeah, this work is not easy. It is nothing like another funny episode of The Office that you can just watch for 20 minutes and turn off until the next evening. But this phase in my life is certainly an episode–and sometimes a very funny one, with chapters just waiting to be written. But I will be the one to write them.
Until then, the campaign continues and the stories of folks in the community must be heard and acted on.
(I also promise not to take so long to write next time.)
But for now…
Below are some pictures of some very important events with family and friends in both my personal and campaign life from the last few weeks. These people mean so much to me and are the rock that I need for this very challenging and yet exciting process.
Apologies for not writing this week. My parents and sister drove into town last Thursday and my weekend was spent laying low with them. Then there was work and the campaign–well, it’s been quite a blur. Not much time to sit down and write.
But since it is Friday, and I get most of my blog views around this time, I thought I’d share a quick post of some reflections I have had this week. Since receiving a big endorsement from AFSCME, I am now anxiously awaiting to hear from a couple of other endorsements in the coming days, so wish me luck.
The irony of this anxiety around these endorsements, however, is what has lead to me to write about this obsession we have with political viability.
Is a candidate electable? Will she/he raise enough money? Will she/he hit x number of doors?
If we’re thinking about winning elections in the short term, I get it. But let’s be real. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot because our communities are being short changed by this mindset. What I am talking about is looking long-term…
Transforming our communities.
Don’t know what I mean? Here’s an example.
In the fall, I participated in this campaign managing training and there were some elected officials in attendance. One of the question’s they raised to the presenter was,
“How do we defeat the outside money that’s coming into our elections? We can’t possibly win?!”
Annoyed, I was about to raise my hand to answer–but the presenter responded before she could call on me and said,
“You knock on doors and you talk to voters!”
The elected was…silent, and then confused. Like, as if they didn’t understand the answer.
I wanted to ask,
“When was the last time you knocked on doors and talked to your constituents?”
Which brings me back to my reflections on endorsements, fundraising and viability for my race specifically–and every other democratic race for that matter.
As progressives, if we envision a better world for our community, it is imperative that in order to do the best thing for all of us, we must change our ways and focus on the long-term, which means base-building and voter registration year around–and not waiting until the last few months before a race.
More importantly, for the elected–the work begins with base building and it must start on day 1 of their term.
I know. It is easy for me to say, right? I am not yet an elected–so what do I know?
I can already hear them tell me,
“You don’t know how hard it is?”
Ok, yes. And what I am saying is that it is not the responsibility of one policy maker to do it all and to make this difference. What I am suggesting is that progressives, particularly those of us at the local and state levels, we should work to change the narrative–to let go of chasing after the money just to keep up with our opposition (because we can beat the money) and be honest with ourselves: we will never have their kind of money.
So let’s do what we do best. Let’s organize.
That I can promise and I will do it when elected.
And…let’s be real. I’ll still do it if I am not.
This morning I spent it at the university, as I was invited to speak to a social work class lead by my good friend and Las Cruces City Councilor, Kasandra Gandara. She has been spending time talking about dominate narratives that perpetuate status quo’s that negatively impact our communities, and asked me to not only discuss my experience as an organizer, but to also share how we can dismantle said narratives by sharing our stories.
I shared some of my story, and mostly about my relationship with Kasandra–someone who once was just a name on list of people I should speak to, eventually became a member of the NM CAFé Executive Committee for the Raise the Wage Campaign, to a Las Cruces City Councilor, and of course–one of my closest friend’s.
It’s imperative that students, particularly those working in social work, understand the difference between transactional and transformational relationships–especially when we’re talking about greater institutional and systemic change. My relationship with Kasandra–I believe, clearly demonstrates on how our transformational relationship is working to make change together and with many in our community.
The students in the class were attentive, asked great questions, and once again reassured me that while the future is in fact–in our hands, the future is in good hands.
Fortunately for me, the wind died down a little by 5p, giving me a chance to hit a good 40 doors. I am so glad that I did.
I first spoke to Theresa, who was getting her roof fixed–after the damage her home received back in early fall. Not only was she super nice, but she is planning to vote on June 7, and she’s pretty certain she’s voting for me.
Tim was someone else who I spoke with, and was super nice. Although I was looking for someone else in the home, he was happy to speak with me for a few minutes. I learned that he is not a registered voter, and has not voted since he was living in California years ago. Now fifty years old, he doesn’t think it’s worth it–especially during this presidential year where he is neither happy with Clinton or Trump. The voter registration forms I carry with me was not enough to convince him to register today, but he did say he wouldn’t mind me checking in with him in the coming weeks.
Tim, I’ll be calling you.
Down the street was Yvette’s home and it was her dog who I met first. Although her pup weighed, maybe 10lbs–it sure did compete well in scaring me like no other dog on the street. It would even give my 90lb baby, Lennon, a run for his money. When I first saw Yvette, my implicit bias right away told me that she would not be interested in talking to me. Her body covered in tattoos and piercings, and some tough talk from the the hallway to the door, convinced me for a few seconds that she would not be voting in the primary.
I was wrong.
We spoke at the door for a few minutes, before Yvette came outside and shared that she knew there was a primary coming up but didn’t think there was any reason for her to vote. I explained my candidacy for House 35 and the more I shared and the more I listened to her story, she came around and to the conclusion that I was worth her time to walk into Branigan Library and vote for me on June 7.
Then her dog shooshed me away. So there’s that.
One of the last homes visited, had a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on their car. Although their name was not on my walk list, I decided to knock anyway.
At the door, I was welcomed by Carrie and her young daughter, both not knowing what I wanted but polite enough to answer and to humor me for just showing up. We didn’t chat for long, but I left behind literature and I am certain that Carrie will be a voter on June 7.
She liked my Facebook page late last night. Progress!
Today turned out to be a day filled with so much and while I was exhausted by the time I headed out to the doors, it was so worth it in the end. I am always grateful to have this opportunity to talk to people.
Lastly, I would like to thank my right-hand, Connie Chapman, who not only keeps me grounded and this campaign in check, she even took time away from her afternoon to drive me around, just so I wouldn’t be as wind blown. I am so lucky.
With 69 days left in the campaign…ok, 68 in a couple hours, (but who’s counting) I had a compelling conversation with a colleague this morning who said,
“Some live their lives for money. Some live their lives for glory. Some live their lives for power. Some live for all three. You must live your life for service.”
It’s the only way, right?
In other related news, I went to the doctor this afternoon only to find out that my blood pressure continues to be high–despite monitoring it daily the last two weeks. I even invested in a digital monitor, if you can believe that?
The good news is, it has forced me to try harder to eat well, to exercise more and relieve stress.
Makes me reflect on the countless who can’t afford to monitor their own blood pressure, or any other health issue for that matter.
I spent most of the afternoon reading and writing about public education, and it is amazing to me how it is all correlated–poverty, lack of health care, quality of life, etc. Imagine if we put as much effort into erraticating poverty as we do, say…blaming the poor for our mishaps?
Tomorrow I hit the doors again–wind or not.
Today was a chill day for me–spent most of the day reflecting on the weekend and the stories of the voters I met at the doors.
Ending the night, I spent it with my campaign team, and very much excited about our plans for the coming weeks, which includes a number of activities for the doors, fundraisers, etc.
As of tonight, there are 70 days, 1 hour and 27 minutes left until the primary.
I don’t have much else to write tonight except for a couple of things that I have been thinking about:
- Having the courage to speak up, in order to be heard–is a privilege. I don’t have the right to hold back because there are people who depend on me to speak up. If not me, than who?
- I must tell the fucking truth with love in my heart.