Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hispanic Players Dominate NM Power Games, Plus: Feedback From The GOP Trail  

Big Bill & Manny
They are marking "Hispanic Culture Day" at the Roundhouse today. Anyone who spends more than a week here can tell you that the culture remains strong and vibrant. And neither is the political culture lacking in Hispanic representation. In fact, the current Legislative leadership is one of the most Hispanic ever. In the State Senate, leaders Altimirano, Sanchez and Garcia run the show. In the House, Speaker Lujan is the boss, assisted by Majority Leader Martinez. Only African-American Majority Whip Sheryl Williams-Stapleton breaks the Hispanic hold on the key power positions. Up on the Fourth Floor rules one of the most powerful Guv's in state history, Big Bill, who is also Hispanic. (All right, half-Hispanic.) Elsewhere, the state's two largest cities are guided by Hispanic mayors.

KKennedy & Sen. Chavez
The big ache for Hispanics is the all-Anglo NM Congressional delegation. The seat held by Tom Udall up North was designed to be Hispanic, but because the D's tried to take it over with a politically wounded Eric Serna, Udall has warmed the chair. The greatest U.S. Senator in NM history was Dennis Chavez whose election in the 30's was a major breakthrough, but since Joe Montoya in the 70's, no NM Hispanic has served in the "world's most exclusive club." And since Big Bill vacated the northern U.S. House seat NM Hispanics have been shut out in D.C.

One of the few remaining attractive attributes of modern New Mexico politics is the ability of the Anglos, Hispanics, Native Americans and African-Americans to get along. There is surprisingly little overt racism in the day-to-day political dance. Sure, behind-the scenes it can get rough, but New Mexico's politicos have been careful not to make race an issue. We may end up last in just about every national ranking, but when it comes to respecting one another on the political battlefield we rank near the top. May it ever be so.


Our write-up Thursday on GOP consultant Jay McCleskey and ex- state GOP Chair Dendahl drew comments worth noting. A McCleskey fan pointed out that he successfully managed John Sanchez's 2000 upset of then-State House Speaker Raymond Sanchez and also was a player in Bush's NM campaign where he beat out Kerry. Those go along with the prominent defeats the new Regional Political Director for the Southwest for the Republican National Committee has chalked up which were mentioned in our report.

And, according to a top R insider, current GOP Chair Allen Weh is not a "Dendahlite," contrary to our implication. "He does what Pete (Domenici) or sometimes (Heather) Wilson want, not what Dendahl wants," spoke our very tapped in corrector. Fair enough.

As for Weh's future with the party, GOP insiders say no prominent opposition candidate has emerged yet to take on Weh who was put in after Ramsay Gorham was couped by the Dendahlite's last year. ABQ R businessman Tom Tinnin told me two months ago that he was considering a run, but nothing since. Weh has indicated he will seek another one year term at the April GOP convention.


Michelle Arviso-Devlin, a former TV reporter who served for several years as spokesman for the Bernalillo County sheriff's department, is back in the TV game, but not in front of the camera. She recently started as a noon news producer for KOB-TV.....Big Bill crime advisor Bob Schwartz, reacting to our report that he won't seek the ABQ Mayors job this year, tells inquiring minds that he is "undecided." But Schwartz would have to give up his good-paying job to make a second run and the betting line remains against it.

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