Deficit may create election tension

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Activists march, protest against budget cuts

By Associated Press

SANTA FE — Few legislators were in the Capitol when educators and union activists demonstrated against budget cuts to solve New Mexico’s growing deficit, but last week’s rally sent a clear political message that lawmakers will hear when they convene for a special session Saturday.

“Today we march. Tomorrow we vote,” the crowd chanted.

It was no idle threat.

Some of the rally’s organizers and supporters showed in the 2008 elections that they’re willing to aggressively campaign against incumbent lawmakers because of their voting records. A coalition of liberal-leaning groups helped defeat several House and Senate members who had voting records the groups considered too much in favor of corporate and business interests.

The winners of two Albuquerque-area races — Democratic Sens. Tim Keller and Eric Griego — were among the handful of lawmakers at the rally who spoke against cutting education and government services to balance the budget.

Their presence underscored the political perils of the upcoming special session and how votes to close the budget deficit — whether it’s cutting spending or raising taxes — could haunt some lawmakers next year.

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