Wednesday, July 25, 2007

There Is A Free Lunch, But It Isn't Easy To Win; Contest Quiz Trips Them Up, But The Alligators Get It 

Winning a free lunch around here isn't easy. Just about all those responding to our Tuesday contest nailed the names of the four candidates who sought the 1982 Democratic nomination for the northern congressional seat, but lost out on the lunch because they had the wrong first name of one of the contenders. We already had disclosed Bill Richardson had won the primary and Tom Udall was one of the losers, so readers had to come up with the names of the other two candidates to become eligible for the free lunch.

Susan Martin of Santa Fe was one of many who made the little error that cost. She said "Roberto Mondragon and Charles Perez were the other candidates in the 1982 NM 3rd CD." Sorry, Susan. We can have lunch, but we'll be going Dutch.

Susan had a lot of company as there is some bad info floating around the Net that some readers made the mistake of relying on. Jack Weber emailed: "I want in!! It was Roberto Mondragon and Charlie Perez and they both beat Udall." Thanks for the enthusiasm, Jack. But there is no free lunch for you.

Christine Trujillo tried to up the ante on us and went for a free dinner. "The information I found on the web shows that Roberto Mondragon and Charles Perez were the other opponents. Do you owe me dinner?" She asked. Sorry, Christine. But you're lucky you don't have to buy us dinner.

Santa Fe county Sheriff Greg Solano must be too young to remember who the candidates were in '82 because his entry of Charles Perez and Roberto Mondragon was off the mark. Nice try, Sheriff. Don't hold it against me when I am speeding through town.

The correct answer that threw readers for a loop is "George" Perez, a district court judge from Bernalillo, not "Charles" Perez. He was in the primary with then-Lt. Governor Roberto Mondragon, Tom Udall and the ultimate winner Bill Richardson who went on to beat Republican Marjorie Bell Chambers to become the first congressman from the northern congressional seat which was created after the 1980 census.


It wasn't surprising that two veteran NM journalists were among the first to come up with the right answer, as the phrase "free lunch" sets off Pavlovian salivating among the ink-stained wretches. The New Mexican's Steve Terrell fired off a 2:18 a.m. e-mail with the correct answers that cockily signed off, "See ya' at Denny's." Actually, if Steve was eligible to win, it wouldn't hurt too much as I could feed him that Grand Slam special.

Maybe Steve can lunch with Jay Miller, longtime author of the syndicated column "Inside the Capitol" who naturally had the correct answers. Displaying the freebie instincts of an old-school scribe, he made himself ineligible for the free lunch declaring, "The price of gas to get to ABQ, I'm sure, would be more than price of the meal you'd buy."

Miller holds the record for attendance at free New Mexico political meals. Terrell has the record for most food consumed at such events.

Columnist Jay also passed on an interesting political tidbit (for free) that we have been wondering about. Has NM GOP US Senator Pete Domenici, first elected in '72, ever had a Republican primary challenge? The answer, according to Miller, is no. We blogged recently that ABQ oilman and political newcomer Spiro G. Vassilopoulos was toying with a primary candidacy against Pete. We await word on whether he will be Pete's first GOP foe.

We didn't hear from syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell down south who has been known to hitchhike from Ruidoso to Raton for a free meal. But apparently that's changed since he started cashing those big Social Security checks.


We say "nice try" to ABQ Dem State Reps. Al Park and Antonio "Moe" Maestas who also sent in the right answers. But they expect us to buy them lunch? The last we looked Al had over a hundred grand in his campaign kitty and Moe was preparing for an unopposed re-elect. Their play for the free lunch will please the fiscal conservatives at the Roundhouse who probably never knew these liberal lawmakers were that tight.


OK. So who won? Former Gallup, NM Mayor Bob Rosebrough gets into the winner's circle by not only naming all four primary contenders, but adding the kind of trivia we relish.

"Who was Tom Udall's campaign manager against Big Bill in 1982? It was Rick Homans who, as we know, went from passionately opposing Big Bill in 1982 to serving as his cabinet Secretary for Economic Development twenty years later."

Being a politician, the former His Honor had an angle. He entered under the e-mail address belonging to himself and his wife, Brenda. Guess that means we're on the hook for a twofer. Pretty clever, Bob. Are you running for something?

Our second winner is Santiago P. Sandoval of Santa Fe who kept it simple, imitating the TV game show "Jeopardy."

"What is Roberto Mondragon and George Perez…that’s my final answer." And a good answer it is. Red or Green, Santiago? We'll be sampling some fine New Mexican cuisine with him in the City Different soon.


An honorable mention goes to Jacob Candelaria, a native of ABQ's South Valley and a student at Princeton University (class of 2009). He had Perez's first name wrong, but he sent info that we had been looking for--the official '82 Democratic primary results. "

Bill Richardson: 23,123 (36.22%) Roberto Mondragon: 19,691 (30.84%) George Perez 12,412 (19.44%) And finishing fourth, the future fighter for the North; Tom Udall: 8,619 (13.50%)

"Fighter for the North" was Big Bill's long-running congressional campaign slogan, until Udall took over the seat in '98. Jacob didn't get George's name right, but he earns the title of Junior Alligator for his efforts.

And thanks to several readers, here is the erroneous Web site that cost so many of our hungry readers a free repast and proving it takes more than a quick Web search to win free lunch from the home of New Mexico politics--it takes the agility and guile of an Alligator. The site lists George Perez as Charles Perez. However, the election results listed appear to be correct.


As for George Perez, at 64, he is alive and well. I chatted with him from his law offices in Bernalillo Tuesday. He said he thinks the error about his first name must have been made by someone who entered the data wrong in an election report. He said he has fond memories of the primary, but it was Bill Richardson's ability to raise money that he believes cost him the race. Nothing much has changed in that regard.

George Perez says his 1982 run against Big Bill "satisfied my political appetite" and he never again sought elective office. But the contest fun we had over the race of '82 shows that even the footnotes of our beloved La Politica are rich in memories. May it ever be so.

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