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Monday, April 03, 2006

New Hampshire Rates Big Bill: "Perfect Resume," But "Unfocused," Plus: Hispanic Factions Hit Guv: Fair Game? And: My Bottom Lines On A NM Monday 

Big Bill's New Hampshire excursions have put him on the map in the nation's first Prez primary state, but what do Dem voters who have had a chance to give him a look make of him? We get the first clue from a focus group of Democrats recently conducted in the Granite State by GOP pollster Frank Luntz. It indicates that the initial reception to the NM Governor is good, but D's question whether he's ready for primetime:

"Gov. Bill Richardson's story "is the complete package. The question is, is that enough? His resume, for those who know it, is perfect. He's an outsider with an insider's knowledge. But despite his stellar credentials and easy speaking style, his presentation is seen to be somewhat unfocused, and his greatest challenge is to prove that what he did in the small state of New Mexico can translate to a national stage. He's got a good message and the right platform, but the delivery isn't quite right -- yet."

The favorite in the Luntz focus group was Virginia Guv Mark Warner.

Back here on the ranch, Dems are starting to play down expectations that Big Bill will top the 60% percent mark in his re-election bid. This in the wake of that insider poll we reported on last week giving the Big Guy a 56% approval rating.

THE HISPANIC HIT

You would think some of the most scathing criticism of the Guv in this election year would be coming from the NM GOP. They are doing their share, but surprisingly it is several Hispanic groups, the Hispanic Roundtable and La Lucha, that are scoring this Governor for allegedly turning his back on Hispanics. To the chagrin of the Guv's political operatives, they re doing it in a very public way.

Take this recent opinion piece from Ralph Arellanes of La Lucha in which he rips the Guv's Spaceport and commuter train plans saying the millions could be used to improve the lot of Hispanic New Mexicans who he says suffer a 34% poverty rate. And Both groups tear into Big Bill for not hiring enough top-level Hispanics in his administration.

The Guv's operatives see these groups as outside the mainstream and are not about to engage them in public. For Richardson the line of attack is nothing new. When he first ran for Congress he was chided by some NM Hispanics for being a "carpetbagger" from back East. He worked relentlessly to shed that image, but his national ambitions have stoked old resentments. And it can make for odd alliances; these Hispanic groups and GOP Chair Allen Weh both disapprove of the Spaceport and the train deals, revealing one of the many crosscurrents in our complicated La Politica.

You cannot argue with the Hispanic Roundtable and La Lucha that Hispanics come up short in all the key rankings, education, child poverty, etc. But that is not something that has just occurred the past few years. Unfortunately, it has been that way for generations.

HISPANIC POWER

Should La Lucha and the Hispanic Roundtable hold other Hispanic politicians, as well as the Governor, responsible for their complaints? It's a fair question. The last we checked the Speaker of the NM House, the Senate President Pro Tem, the State Auditor, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State were all Hispanic. Back in the Legislature, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Majority Leader, and the chairmen of key committees are all Hispanic. And the list goes on, topped off by the fact that probably well over 70% of the state government workforce is Hispanic.

No one politician is responsible for New Mexico's perennial cellar dwelling in important quality of life measures. It is a burden shared by the entire political structure.

MY BOTTOM LINES

Is it a sign of things to come? A bunch of Republican U.S. House members, including our own Rep. Steve Pearce, was recently stuck together in a Capitol elevator. After half an hour in the the lift one of the lawmakers reported it was starting to get "pretty gamey" in there. Being from Hobbs where there are no elevators, one wonders if Pearce was the most freaked out by the incident, but having been an Air Force fighter pilot, one suspects he escaped any lasting trauma. As for the incident being a harbinger of things to come, maybe it is for some of Pearce's fellow R's, but not him. He is a cinch for re-election to a third, two year term....

When I profiled her last week, GOP State Treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla told me what she could about the origination of her first name. But leave it to the Alligators to fill in the blanks. From deep in the historic ABQ South Valley comes the story of the roots of Demesia:

"Demesia's name derives from the Greek Goddess Demeter who was goddess of the Earth's fertility and harvest. The Roman equivalent is Ceres from where the word cereal comes from. The candidate is not the only Demesia. One Demesia Padilla who is very much alive is a member of Rio Grande High class of 65'. She is a Democrat. Demesia was a fairly common name among the Spanish of the ABQ South Valley when it was agrarian. With the decline of agriculture, the name fell into disuse."

When you run for political office you sometimes learn things about yourself you never knew, at least around here....

Thanks for the company. Drop me an e-mail with your latest news. There's a link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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