New Mexico Dem official bans 'Vote or Die' T-shirt sales
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
May. 15, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Democratic chair of New Mexico's largest county has ordered a voting rights group not to sell its "Vote or Die" T-shirt at sponsor events because it's "offensive" and "a blatant threat."
Democratic Party of Bernalillo County chair Bill Peifer told The Associated Press in an email late Monday that a shirt being sold by Dave Mulryan of Everybody Votes also is abhorrent to gun owners and rural New Mexico residents — voters New Mexico Democrats are seeking to win over.
"The first, quite simply put, is that it's a very negative message. We always have a difficult time in getting out the vote," Peifer said. "We want the act of voting to be associated with good things happening . . . a positive message."
Mulryan said in a statement the group believes there is nothing wrong with the shirt.
"Everybody Votes will continue to offer the "Vote or Die," t-shirt for sale," Mulryan said. "We believe in the message, and we believe in our right to sell it."
The dispute began after Mulryan's group set up a booth at an event sponsored by the East Mountains, Rural and Ranch Democrats in an area east of Albuquerque and starting selling the shirt. The shirt, which has been sold at other Democratic events, has an image of the now-extinct dodo bird with the words "Vote or Die."
But Peifer said he received over half a dozen complaints from people about the shirt.
"In this part of the country it's a message that's associated with the anti-gun (anti-Second Amendment) movement," Peifer said. "I'm working hard to curry favor and involvement from a segment of the population that used to be part of the core of the Democratic Party's coalition...the farm and ranch community."
Mulryan said the most profits from shirt sales are used to help register New Mexico high school students to vote.
"We needed the funding source," Mulryan said. "We are surprised that the Democrats had an issue with the message."
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