State Sen. Eric Griego and former state Rep. Ben Rodefer joined a conference call (audio embedded below) with progressive legislators from across the nation announcing the start of a push to have Democratic legislators and politicians end their membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Griego is running for Congress in the 1st congressional district and Rodefer is running for state Senate in District 9. Griego faces two other Democrats in the primary while Rodefer faces incumbent state Sen. John Sapien, D-Bernalillo.
The phone call was put together by BoldProgressives.org, the website of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, or PCCC. This is one of the many groups that has been pressuring ALEC in recent weeks.
Rodefer announced on the call that he had a big victory to announce in relation to his challenge to Sapien to sign a pledge against ALEC.
“Yesterday in response to our challenge to sign the pledge, he did not sign the pledge, but he did issue a press release distancing himself from ALEC and seriously questioning their agenda and motives,” Rodefer said. “That was a good start for us.”
The NM Telegram report of the exchange is available here.
Griego, who had trouble connecting to the call, outlined what he thought was the ALEC playbook in the New Mexico state Senate — getting Democrats to introduce legislation, which would give it a better chance of becoming law because of the Democratic majority in the chamber.
“Often Democratic, high-level Democrats, would introduce [the ALEC legislation],” Griego said. “And highly choreographed in committee, highly choreographed on the floor. And it is very much a system that has been supported many times by bipartisan leadership.”
Griego also said that ALEC got more access than other groups that seek to influence the legislature.
“Unlike other organizations, ALEC is pitched by, in our case the Democratic leadership, as an educational group,” he said. “They announce the dinners on the floors, communications are sent using official legislative sources despite very strict rules saying other lobbying rules aren’t able to do that. They seem to have a status that is unlike any other group in terms of what they can put on our desks on the floor and our communications.”
When asked how it would be more difficult to beat a “corporate-funded Democrat” in the primary, Rodefer noted that he had actually raised more money than Sapien. Rodefer reported raising $18,400 in his most recent campaign finance reports while Sapien reported raising $17,763.02.
“The way we win this race is by talking to the people and by messaging,” Rodefer said. “And when you’re talking to Democratic, primary voters, they’re not very happy with people that are assuming a corporate agenda.”
An interesting note is that Griego refrained from speaking about his congressional run while on the call, but rather used the call as a way to talk about the state Senate while Rodefer pointedly went after Sapien.