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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wertheim's World: The Donkey Kicks; Report Over Dem Chair Has Them Out Of The Stables; The Blog Damned And Praised, Plus: Big Bill Leaks Oil In Poll 

Passions ran high Tuesday as Dems reacted to news reported here that former NM Transportation Secretary Judy Espinosa might, just might, consider challenging NM Dem Party Chair John Wertheim for his title. Never mind that Espinosa was only toying with the idea. It was enough to unlock the floodgates of emotion and the e-mail, some of it hot enough to scorch my eyebrows. But hey, that's why we're here, to bring you, without partisanship, the real workings of NM politics. It was a GOP intraparty fight that launched yer little ol' blog over two years ago. My ass was kicked red, but we got it right then and, dang it, we're going to get it right now. Not that this situation is similar, not by a long shot

First, about that Gang of 16, those who signed the now famous (or infamous) letter calling into question Wertheim's leadership. Several of them, led by Babara Wold, were hitting the ceiling saying that it was implied here that they were calling for the chair's removal. They emphatically said they were not. "We're not against or for Judy for Chair. It just never came up and our efforts weren't aimed at making it so. Who knows if there will be a challenge or not," clarified Barbara, after also labeling the blog "rambling and ill-informed." Hey, I've been called worse, but I feel sorry for the blog.

Also, not all the criticisms leveled against Wertheim--the court challenge he brought against Prez contender Ralph Nader and his support of tax cuts--were in the letter, but they are concerns expressed by other Dems.

WHIPPING ON WERTHEIM

Others continued whipping Wertheim saying they think a coup attempt is worthwhile. So while the Gang of 16 can speak for itself, remember there were over 100 central committee members who voted against John in April and thousands of "progressives" across the state who also have opinions.

Surely, an attempt to unseat Wertheim is highly unlikely. A close friend of Judy wanted to make clear that she is not anywhere close to launching such an effort.

"She has kicked the idea around and is exploring the possibility. She has heard the rumors and grumbling from dissatisfied members of the state central committee and county chairs, which made her contemplate the idea in the first place. But, I would not consider her quite as "serious" as your blog makes out. Exploring the option is more like it," penned the prominent Lady D who has seen her share of intraparty wars.

Speaking of which, a challenge, if it developed, would not be a rarity, as we were reminded from a party Alligator of long standing who also analyzed any prospective Movida against Wertheim:

"There are always rumblings in the party about removing the chair, be it Earl Potter, Ray Sena, Mary Gail Gwaltney or Diane Denish.

"We shouldn’t exaggerate the rumblings of progressives out of Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and ABQ. John’s strength is with the rural chairs and the Hispanic ward chairs in ABQ and Santa Fe. Also, party leaders such aw Madrid, Richardson, Denish and Udall, all want John in there. Throwing the party over to Judy would be a big mistake. She couldn’t even organize a petition drive to get herself on the ballot in the ABQ Mayor’s race," analyzed our insider.

WHAT IT MEANS

Naturally, Dem heavies running for election next year do not want anything to change. Turmoil over party leadership makes for controversy, and the heavies can probably keep any seeds of rebellion from sprouting. But the fervor over the direction of the Dem party won't be stilled.

Tax cuts for the well-off are controversial among many party members. So is The tepid critique, or lack thereof, of the Iraq war. And, don't forget, New Mexico is now a Red state after the narrow 04' Bush victory. These are matters of import that can only be suppressed for so long.

Meanwhile, other Dem insiders were checking in with the news that NAtional Dem Chairman Howard Dean, who embodies the fissures present in the national D's, will not make it to the November Dem Central Committee meeting after all. Chair Wertheim was saying Tuesday the trip was on and would enrich party coffers. D.C. Dems were saying travel arrangements could not be made.

Hmmm. Dean not coming while some Dems make their unhappiness with the party chair known? OK. Let the conspiracy theories begin!

BIG BILL: LEAKING OIL

The ABQ Journal poll out today has Big Bill leaking oil, garnering a 53% approval rating, pretty low for him. I will seek comments and analysis for you. My first impression is that the Treasurer Vigil scandal is at least partially to blame for the dip. Stay tuned.


Thanks to all my e-mailers for their thoughts, criticisms and news. If you have some, there's a link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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