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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This One's Wild And Exclusive To You: Big Bill May Draw 06' Dem Rival, Plus: NM's Fran Langholf; A Lifetime of La Politica 

Regensburg
Who needs the movies when you have New Mexico politics? The supply of drama and comedy seems to be ceaseless. Take the latest told to me exclusively by deep insiders: Ex Dem State Rep. Bengie Regensburg is looking to unseat Big Bill in 2006! The plot line for this one starts a couple of years ago when Bengie of Mora split with the Big Guy on a variety of issues and found himself facing a Big Bill sanctioned opponent in one Hector Balderas, who easily defeated Bengie in the Dem primary and went on to capture the seat.

Now, Bengie has resurfaced and the insiders say he has even started to print up literature touting his gubernatorial bid. Many of you will best remember Regensburg for providing glorious entertainment in his final legislative session last year (See my Feb. 17, 2004 archives) when he got into a fistfight with state police who were summoned to his hotel room to take him back to the House floor for a vote. Bengie's forthright stand in favor of cockfighting also put him on the political radar.

Can Benjie go the distance? The Dem Guv primary isn't until June of next year. But he isn't poor and he has one of the strongest motivations in politics: revenge. Sure, Big Bill will see this as a mere thorn in his side, but for political junkies waiting for the idle R's to get an actor on the stage, Bengie will be nominated for an Oscar. Like I said, who needs the movies when you have La Politica??

FIRST THERE WAS FRAN

Fran Langholf
In today's politics women shine. Stars like Heather Wilson, Diane Denish and Patsy Madrid are the rule, not the exception. But their careers are built on a platform constructed by the likes of New Mexico's Fran Langholf. She started out as a GOP volunteer in the 60's and went on to manage the NM office of U.S. Senator Pete Domenici for over 20 years and to become a trusted and loyal confidant of just about every top Republican power player of the last generation.

Pretty heady stuff for the diminutive redhead from Iowa, armed as she was with just some business school, not the advanced degrees of today. But in politics it's instinct and people skills that carry the day and Fran, who will be honored by Republicans at a dinner Wednesday night at the ABQ Marriott Pyramid, has an abundance of both.

When she labored for Domenici in his only losing campaign, the 1970 race for governor, she thought the loss was the end and told Pete so when he approached her about his first senate run in 72'. "What makes you think you can win? We haven't had a Republican Senator in 38 years," she declared.

But win he did and Pete's races since have been cakewalks. But Langholf also spread her energies to dozens of other contests, many of which she ached over as Republican losses mounted in the Democratic dominated 70's. But she was there for the turn and witnessed the election of a couple of Republican governors and continued to move the party along as executive director of the Bernalillo County GOP.

The bottom line on Fran is that she builds things that last. A lifelong career in politics, a marriage of 59 years and a legacy to the women of today who can look back at the political wilderness of yesteryear and thank the Fran Langholf's who carved the path out. The Wednesday dinner will honor Langholf and GOP volunteers with proceeds going to Langholf's favorite charity: the Bernalillo County GOP. Ticket info at 505-298-3214.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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