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Indivisible Las Cruces Members Weigh In on Third Democratic Debate

Sep 18, 2019

Members of Indivisible Las Cruces, a local nonpartisan group focused on voter education and civic engagement, watch the third round of Democratic primary debates at Amaro Winery on Sept. 12, 2019.
Credit Michael Hernandez

A glass of pinot noir pairs well with meat, cheese, and for local voting rights advocates– politics.

Members of the nonpartisan group Indivisible Las Cruces gathered at Amaro Winery to watch round three of the Democratic primary debates.

Ahead of the forum, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is gaining support with Democratic voters but she and other candidates are less popular with voters overall.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden had the highest favorability among all registered voters, followed by Warren.

Founding Indivisible member ViAnn Beadle said Warren is her favorite candidate but she also likes California Sen. Kamala Harris as well as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.  She said she most cares about healthcare, immigration and ending overseas wars. As for whether another woman can succeed where Hillary Clinton failed, Beadle said she thinks chances are better this time.

“I think that a woman probably has a better chance of defeating Trump because as his administration has been going on... people are really starting to hate him. And I think that Hillary played it too close to the vest," Beadle said. "You know, I really think that Elizabeth Warren would have a very good chance to beat him.”

Mary Jane Stofik, another Indivisible member and New Jersey native, named climate change a top reason why she moved to New Mexico. Stofik said while she really likes Booker, he hasn’t had a signature moment that’s set him apart from other candidates. Stofik said while she also likes Biden, she’s worried the 76-year-old frontrunner’s time may have passed.

“I’m not young and Joe’s older than I am and watching him, if he was my friend I would be concerned that he appears to be a little too old at this point. And I hate to say that because I’m a senior citizen. But I wouldn’t run for president right now and that concerns me. However, I think like you’ve heard from most of us here today, we would vote for a garbage can if it becomes the candidate," Stofik said.

Indivisible founding member Russell Records said he prefers younger candidates like Harris, Booker and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Records used to prioritize immigration and education, but over time, his focus turned to gun violence.

“I am sick and tired of these clowns going out and getting access to military grade weaponry and using it on our fellow citizens. No rhyme or reason, just go out and kill people and I think the only way that we can actually do something about that is to, first of all, do the common-sense things. Background checks universal, red tags, red flags," Records said. "We need to do something about that 30,000 people a year dying because of this," Records said.

Mass shootings in El Paso and nearby Odessa killed more than two dozen people and wounded dozens more. In response, Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke proposed a government buyback program of assault-style weapons during the debate.

While these voters may disagree on certain issues or candidates, they share a common goal–making Donald Trump a one-term president.

Records said while he’s aware there’s risk in nominating a progressive candidate like Warren or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, he thinks Democrats will win back the White House if they choose well.

“I think that the Trump core will never ever grow. His supporting base will never grow, they will only shrink," Records said. "He’s losing the farmers because of his trade policy. He’s losing the auto industry because of his trade practices and now with his border wall and gutting a lot of the programs and priorities here in New Mexico, he’s now alienating the military. So, I think if we come up with a fairly decent progressive candidate then they will probably win."

That same NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll said 46 percent of registered voters think President Trump will win re-election.

Beadle, Records and Stofik all said they value a candidate who can beat Trump more than one who most closely shares their values. In addition, all three think Warren has the best odds of doing that. But Stofik spoke out the most on who she hopes doesn’t win.

“Please Dear God, let it be anybody but Donald Trump," Stofik said. "Honestly, I’m really involved. I’m a board member of Indivisible. I register voters. I do everything that I possibly can to try to change the occupant of that White House. If he wins again, I’m done. I’m old, I don’t care. People don’t care enough to try to save their own country then they get what they deserve.”

Voters won’t make that decision for another year. But as these Indivisible members gather at Amaro Winery, they hope that 2020 will result in a vintage year rather than sour grapes.