Sunday, November 25, 2007

Congressional Landscape Changing for New Mexico Bread members

Would you believe that we're only a little more than two months away from our presidential primary election on Feb. 5?

But that's the presidential primary. The New Mexico congressional primary is scheduled for June 3, 2008.
Even though we have a little more than half-a-year until then, this election is the first step in the huge makeover of our congressional delegation. Bread for the World members in New Mexico are facing an unprecedented situation, with all three of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one seat in the U.S. Senate up for grabs in the federal election in November 2008.

All three of our incumbents, Reps. Heather Wilson, Steve Pearce and Tom Udall have decided to abandon their seats in the House to seek the seat in the Senate left open with the retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici.

What this means is that we will certainly have three brand new representatives in the House and the likelihood of having a familiar face in an unfamiliar position in the Senate.

Even though the general election is almost a year away, we have to start doing our homework about the potential candidates. Perhaps there may be an opportunity to bring up issues supported by Bread for the World and The ONE Campaign at candidate forums. But my guess is that there probably will only be a couple of these forums. So what else do we do?

Here are a few suggestions:
1) Find out who is running in the Democratic and Republican primaries. At the bottom of this post is a partial list of the candidates who have officially thrown their hat into the ring for each of the seats. Keep in mind that there is still about a month for others to jump into the congressional races before the January deadline set by the New Mexico Secretary of State. And there is a chance that some of those who declared may decide to withdraw.

2) Read about the candidate's positions in the newspaper or monitor television and radio coverage. One very good source here in New Mexico is the blog New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan
Other good blogs are Democracy for New Mexico, New Mexico FBIHOP and Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics.

3) Try to make contact with the candidates, either personally, through a letter, or through their campaigns. It's important to know where they stand on hunger and poverty-related issues. But just as important is to let them know about the work of our organization. Name recognition is going to be very important when this candidate is already in office.
(Those candidates who are highlighted have campaign websites with a link or address for their campaign).

4) Vote in the primary and the general election.

2008 Candidates
Senate: It looks like we have two very competitive primaries. The race for the Republican nomination will pit Rep. Heather Wilson against Rep. Steve Pearce. Read article in Albuquerque Tribune about this race.

The two top candidates seeking to represent the Democratic party are Rep. Tom Udall and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. The Trib also has an article about this election.

Two other Democrats seeking the seat are Santa Fe Community Housing Trust officer Jim Hannan and
Taos publisher Leland Lehman. And high-school teacher Zach Boatman is in the process of gathering the 16,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. He would run as an independent.

Since Wilson, Pearce and Udall are coming from the House side, we have a track record on their support for Bread issues. Wilson and Udall have tended to vote with Bread on many issues. Both added their names to the list of cosponsors of the Hunger-Free Communities Act of 2005. In the House vote on the farm bill in June 2007, Udall supported the Kind amendment that would have cut farm subsidies for the five major commodities in order to invest the money in conservation, nutrition, rural development and deficit reduction. Wilson and Pearce opposed the amendment, which failed 117-309. Pearce has supported some Bread issues. According to Project Vote Smart, Pearce received a 75% support rating from Bread in 2003-2004. Pearce, Wilson and Udall all voted that year for legislation to create the Millennium Challenge Account. This was the subject of our 2003 Offering of Letters, Rise to the Challenge: End World Hunger.

First Congressional District
Republicans: Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White
Democrats: Former New Mexico Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham
Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich
Attorney Jon Adams
High School Teacher Jason Call

The Democratic Primary will likely be a race between Lujan Grisham and Heinrich. In the Republican primary, State Sen. Joe Carraro and State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones may join the race against White.

Second Congressional District:
Republican: Capitan, N.M., businessman Ed Tinsley

State Rep. Joe Cervantes
ña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley
Retired Presbyterian Minister Albert Kissling
Roswell businessman and retired teacher Frank McKinnon
Former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague

Believe or not, two other Democrats are pondering whether to join the already crowded field, including state Sen. John Arthur Smith, who lost to Pearce in the general election in 2002. The other is state Rep. Jeff Steinborn. Members in the Second Congressional District don't have to convince Al Kissling about our issues; he is already a Bread for the World member. But Kissling, who lost to Pearce in the 2006 election, faces an uphill battle against better-known and well-funded politicans in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Tinsley, who lost the Republican primary to Pearce in 2002, is likely to face some opposition in the 2008 primary. According to New Mexico politics blogger Heath Haussamen, the potential challengers include former Roswell Mayor Bill Owen, ex-Domenici staffer Clint Chandler, former Bernalillo County Republican executive director Bob Cornelius
, rancher Aubrey L. Dunn Jr., and Sierra County Republican chair C. Earl Greer.

Third Congressional District:
Democrat: Green Developer Don Wiviott (Santa Fe)
Republicans: None declared

Commitments are less solid at this point because it was only recently that Rep. Udall decided to give up the seat to run for Senate. Wiviott was originally planning to run for Senate, but left that race when Udall announced his candidacy. Wiviott is likely to face a primary challenge in the heavily Democratic district. Among those who are looking very closely at the race are former Santa Fe County commissioner
Javier Gonzales and Public Regulation Commission chair Ben Ray Lujan. The race could become even more crowded if Española mayor Joe Maestas, Farmington city councilor Jason Sandel, Santa Fe County sheriff Greg Solano, and former state representative Patsy Trujillo decide to seek the seat.

On the Republican side, Ron Dolin of Los Alamos is pondering the race. He lost to Udall in the 2006 election.

So we have our work cut out in 2008. Perhaps we can start by asking the candidates about their positions on our 2008 Offering of Letters, which will probably deal with the Millennium Development Goals (check your e-mails from Bread and the BFW website for updates on this).

(Note: Top photograph shows Bread for the World member Art Meyer of Farmington in front of Capitol building).

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Tribute to a Couple of Old Friends and Good Neighbors

The September issue of Bread for the World's monthly newsletter contained a great tribute to a couple of our good friends: Titus and Charlotte Scholl. In an article entitled Decades of Anti-Hunger Work in New Mexico and Nebraska, Bread offers tribute to the life's work of these two friends and anti-hunger advocates.

Titus and Charlotte were true cornerstones of the Bread for the World community in Albuquerque. When I first moved here in 1992, Charlotte and Titus were among the first Bread activists that I met. Often, I saw them at the monthly meeting on the third Saturday morning of month. They considered the annual offering of letters and legislative advocacy as a necessary complement to their life's work of being "good neighbors." (Luke 10:29-37)
"I really agree with Bread for the World's approach to using legislation to help hungry people," Charlotte said in the Bread for the World article. "It's not just about giving food, although that is important, but it's also about advocacy. The United States should do something about hunger and not just leave everything up to individuals."
Titus and Charlotte are best known in our community for starting Roadrunner Food Bank and The Storehouse.

Here's another excerpt from the Bread newsletter article:
The Scholls lived for 44 years in Albuquerque, where they started a program to give clothing, furniture and food for people in need. Initially, donations were left on their front porch. The project grew until today the goods are housed in a large warehouse (The Storehouse). The Scholls also helped to start a food bank in Albuquerque (Roadrunner) in 1970, when there were few precedents to guide them.
Titus and Charlotte moved away to their home state of Nebraska after a few years. Soon after that, Titus passed away. They have left a big legacy here in Albuquerque, not only with The Storehouse and Roadrunner Food Bank but with their work assisting with offerings of letters at St. Paul Lutheran Church and other ELCA congregations.

And their legacy lives on with Bread for the World. Through the
annuities and other planned giving program, they have ensured that they will continue supporting the organization for generations to come.

(Note: In the above photo, Titus and Charlotte were pictured at our Albuquerque celebration of Bread for the World's 20th anniversary in 1995).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Holiday Greetings and Justice

This may seem like an advertisement for greeting cards, and perhaps it is.

And November has just begun, and here I am talking about Christmas greetings...

But it's not too early to consider this question: Is sending cards an obligatory task of the season?

Or can we use the occasion of "staying in touch" to really get into the spirit of the season?

Simplicity is a good value for Advent and Christmas. And so is justice. And so is finding a connection with others with whom we share this planet.

If you decide to send Christmas, Advent or holiday cards by snail mail (and not e-mail) this season, consider this great card displayed above and other cards from Bread for the World.

Cards with Art from Brazilian Orphanage

Here in Albuquerque, Juliana Vander Voort is selling cards that feature art from children in an orphanage near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These cards should be available at the end of November or beginning of December.

Here's Juliana's description of how she came in contact with the children at the orphanage:
"About 4 years ago I volunteered in an orphanage outside of Rio de Janeiro... called Casa do Caminho. the current volunteers have printed christmas cards from the children's art work, and are selling them to raise awarness about the orphanage and programs going on there. I am committed to selling 100 boxes this year for their benefit, and I was hoping that you could help me reach my goal by purchasing a box ($14 for 10 cards)."

If you would like to purchase a box of cards, send an
e-mail note to Juliana.