Monday, August 08, 2005

War Weakened Prez In NM Today, But Where's The Opposition? Plus: ABQ Mayoral Money Starts Talking & A Talk With Mayor Marty; It's Your Monday Blog 

Few anti-war protesters will greet President Bush when he arrives in the Duke City today to sign the energy bill at Sandia Labs. And don't expect a torrent of calls flooding talk radio against the war. There won't be any prominent NM politicians condemning the ongoing conflict either.

Where is the anti-war movement in New Mexico?

Polls show the Prez's popularity plummeting. But top Dems in NM are still mum, many locked into a position that "we have to finish the job" in Iraq before we withdraw. In other words, they are right where the R's want them. "We have lost the White House and the Congress, yet there is still our conservative approach to a disastrous war. What do we have to lose?" questioned one longtime and frustrated NM Dem."

The Dems are starting to beat the Heather Wilson bush again, saying that if the Prez remains unpopular the ABQ GOP Congresswoman could find herself threatened in 06'. But it all sounds like a dream, doesn't it? What's left of the "Left" is apparently confined to wheelchairs, too old to get out and protest. Young NM Dems have also been remarkably disengaged from the war, perhaps, some speculate, because there is no draft and it is volunteer soldiers taking the hit.

And where is the liberal Green Party, a natural to oppose the war? Apparently defanged and depressed.

There is a weird disconnect. While voters turn thumbs down on the war in ever growing numbers, the so called opposition party has not sent out one e-mail organized one protest, or had one prominent NM politico come out against the war. For President Bush it is a big reprieve; the poll numbers are lousy, but are not matched by noisy public debate. On this, the most crucial foreign policy issue of the day, neither major NM political party represents the majority view. What will it take to change that? And why should the party prosecuting the war be punished and the opposing party rewarded when it does not have the guts to stake a position? As the late, great commentator Ernie Mills would say: "We're just asking."

Mayor Marty (c. 1957)
The huge financial advantage that ABQ Mayor Marty has over his opponents kicked in over the weekend with re-elect signs dotting the street corners of the big Duke City and his TV ads gracing the airwaves. This, with just under 60 days to go before the Oct. 4 election. And the mayor, who has raised over $700K and is shooting for an outlandish $1 million plus, will not take a break from the tube, say the insiders.

I ran into the 53 year old UNM and Georgetown grad, two term mayor, ABQ native, attorney, former ABQ West side state senator and longtime political junkie at Yanni's restaurant on Nob Hill and he told me he is still determined to win 40 percent of the vote and avoid a run-off, even though the field (now four, maybe five) could make the math tough. I reflected that it was done once before, back in 77', when David Rusk pulled off the feat.

The mayor also took issue with my stance regarding his proposal (and that of his GOP foe Brad Winter) to outlaw payment to workers who gather petition signatures to place issues and candidates on the ballot. This after some forged signatures were discovered on petition forms to get a minimum wage proposal on the ballot. "You could still hire people to gather petition signatures; you couldn't pay them by the signature," he explained. Understood. But on this one the mayor and I are going to agree to disagree. I am too much of a First Amendment absolutist. I wouldn't yell "fire' in a crowded theater, but you get a long rope. As I left the mayor, who was awaiting the arrival of his lunch guest, I turned back and said, "Good Luck, this could be your last campaign." He nodded in agreement but I don't think either one of us really believed it.


Hizzoner was having lunch with longtime NM Dem politico Ed Romero. The campaign headquarters is just down the street from Yanni's which is owned by political old timer Nick Kapinson and is also a haunt of Big Bill's when he's in town. Liberal Dem mayoral contender Eric Griego prefers the more contemporary "Flying Star' restaurant in downtown ABQ. I could not lunch with the mayor so I missed out on the freebie Ed bought. But maybe not. When I worked in the mayor's 01' campaign Ed invited me to a big party at his house, but only if I would pay $1000. What a cold day in Hell that would have been! Eric did not see me at the Flying Star (or pretended not to) so another potential freebie was lost.

The sacrifices I make for you, my dear readers!

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