Monday, October 09, 2006

Dendahl Shows His Tame Side; Can It Bring The R's Home? And: Is CYFD Doing a CYA? Plus: NPR Reports On Patsy-Heather 

John Dendahl has not done himself many favors in campaign 06'. By blurting out ill-considered statements on school teachers and DWI, he has helped cement his image as a wild-eyed, impulsive politician. But anyone who has followed the former GOP state chair for any length of time, knows that he is more than capable of taking on complex issues, discussing them in a reasonable and informed manner and coming across confident and well-spoken on television. The problem is New Mexico voters have not been seeing that side of Dendahl whose political acumen was proved in the 90's when under his leadership the GOP added a bevy of House seats to the Legislature.

The fire and brimstone side of Dendhal's personality is finally set aside and the soothing side of the fiery politico well-captured in a series of short, punchy video clips now being broadcast on his Web site. Wearing a blue dress shirt and looking assured and comfortable, Dendahl opines on his key issues, including education, illegal immigration and, of course, "Richardson's hypocrisy."

It is an impressive performance and one that might send some chills down the spines of Big Bill's campaign staff, if the 68 year old Santa Fe native had the funds to broadcast his appeal on TV. Surely, Dendahl tamed, not unleashed, as he is in these Internet appeals, would complicate the Guv's drive to reach the 60% mark, which if he does, will be a debacle for the GOP.

Dendahl's undoing this campaign has been his inability to enthuse and unify the GOP base. That goes back to his decision as state chair to support Governor Johnson in legalizing drugs and his shunning of party moderates in favor of a breakaway faction of the state GOP that created havoc that was extensively covered when we launched this blog over three years ago and eventually made its way onto the state's front pages. Hard feelings have proved hard to heal.

It's difficult to argue that Dendahl has been unfairly caricaturized by his opponents and the press because he feeds that beast. But if Dendahl could somehow raise a quick $250,000 and air what he is putting up on his Web site, New Mexico would see the flip side of the GOP veteran that might, just might, get that GOP base to start coming home. If that happened, the final stretch of this campaign could prove to be far more interesting than anyone currently expects.


While the political world immerses itself in the seamy exploit of ex-U.S. Rep Mark Foley, there is a sex scandal unfolding right here that demands more attention--It's the rape of two teenaged boys (registration required) in a state facility supervised by the Children, Youth and Families Department. The incidents are described by the department as "bumps in the road" as CYFD transitions to a "better' system of treating and housing juvenile offenders.
(Maybe we should change their name to CYA.)

Boys getting raped in a state run facility is not "bumps in the road." They are a sign of systemic failure. Unlike Foleygate, these are actual physical attacks. I don't know the name of the latest CYFD secretary, but we all know the name of the Governor. And, while we're at it, what does Dendahl think?


The spirited battle between Patricia Madrid and Heather Wilson for the ABQ congressional seat has eyes around the nation watching the action. National Public Radio hit with a nice long piece on the contest and you can hear it here. You wonder if we are going to see one or two more momentum shifts in this hot race, or will it stay flat and tight until E Night? Patsy got the Mo in late September, tied the race up and has had the momentum since. Can Heather get it back?


Back on the Guv race for a minute. Retired congressional staffer Larry Morgan blogged in last week from Alamogordo with the news that Big Bill may be the first Dem Guv candidate in memory to carry conservative Otero county in. But we said Larry was himself a D. Not so, he was when I first met him in D.C. in 1979 when he was a top staffer to conservative D Congressman Harold Runnels. But in 1980 he says he switched to the R team when then-Guv Bruce King "played games" and tried to have his nephew replace Runnels when the congressman passed away. By the way, that nephew was David King, now a Public Regulation Commissioner and who has also become a Republican!

Thanks, Larry. We really need to keep up better.

You can keep up with campaign 06' just by checking in here. Send me your news tip and comments and let's keep the politics rolling.

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