Blogging LIVE from Wellstone Action in Albuquerque

I’m blogging from a Wellstone Action training seminar that the Center for Civic Action (where I work)is co-sponsoring. I’m sitting here in a roomful of future New Mexico candidates and campaign managers.

In a word, it’s inspiring.

Paul Wellstone, one of the icons of my generation, believed in the politics of conviction. One of the trainers just told a story about from Paul’s last re-election campaign for US Senate in 2002.

With only 20 days to go until election day, and the race in a dead heat, Wellstone had to cast a vote on the Iraq war. All the pundits and consultants advised him that a vote against the war would guarantee his loss in his re-election effort. Nonetheless, Wellstone stood up on the Senate floor and spoke out passionately against the reckless rush to war. He then joined with just a handful of Democratic Senators to vote against the war resolution.

Then a strange thing happened. Wellstone’s poll numbers started to move up dramatically and he appeared to be on the path to victory. (It was not to be, of course. Paul and his wife died in a plane crash a week before election day.)

But the extraordinary about Paul is what emerged in numerous interviews with voters at the time. A common theme emerged: “I don’t always agree with Paul, but I know where he stands. And I trust him.”

That’s the politics of conviction.

We have over 40 progressives from all over the state here today and this weekend. We have homegrown leaders from Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Carlsbad, Albuquerque and Las Cruces. We have people interested in the state legislature, in county commissions, in school boards and city councils. With other great training programs in New Mexico like Emerge, progressives are building a group of strong leaders, with conviction, for the future.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

(Here’s a link to Wellstone Action.)

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