Wednesday, March 31, 2010

R's Sending Their First African-American from Big Bernalillo County To Legislature, Plus: More Tales Of The Chile Starved In DC 

Conrad James
We think we've already spotted some history being made in the 2010 campaign and we haven't even had the election yet. Conrad James will become the first Republican African-American in memory (maybe ever?) elected to the New Mexico Legislature from Bernalillo County. That's because James, who turns 36 in a couple of weeks, is running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the state House seat (Dist. 24) being vacated by Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and no Democrat has filed to run.

James tells us he is pleased that he has a free ride to the Roundhouse, but is still going to conduct a full-fledged campaign, raising money for mailings and going door-to-door to introduce himself and address constituent concerns. He describes himself as a "common sense" conservative.

James is an engineer at Sandia Labs focusing on microsystems research. He moved to New Mexico from Ohio eight years ago. His father is African-American and his mother is of German descent. James received his master's and doctorate degrees in applied and engineering physics from Cornell. He and his wife are raising three children. He says education is a chief concern.

James said he was recruited for the House run by state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, who has scored a coup for the R's by diversifying the party's legislative line-up in a way never before achieved in the state's largest county. The election of James will also continue a long tradition of ABQ community leaders emerging from Sandia Labs.

Other African-Americans serving in the NM Legislature are Republican Jane Powdrell-Culbert, serving Sandoval County, and Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a Democratic state House member from Bernalillo County's SE Heights.


Allen Weh and Doug Turner say they had the best performance against soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish in a recent Rasmussen poll because they are true outsiders. Both of the GOP Guv hopefuls have private business backgrounds and have never held political office. That's a trait, the WaPo reports, that is serving candidates well around the nation.


We didn't catch this but one of our readers emails:

Joe, (NM Senate President Pro Tem) Tim Jennings made it on Jay Leno's "headlines" for complaining about too many Hispanics being on the board of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.


Blog reader Daniel Balke, who grew up in Las Cruces and is now special assistant at the Department of the Treasury in DC, writes us with this:

Joe, I recently began writing what will be a bi-weekly column for the Las Cruces Sun News. My first piece has been published in the paper's print edition. My blog is "The New Mexico Progressive."


Our blogging on chile starved New Mexicans serving time in DC continues to bring in the email as readers recount their own struggles to maintain their stash as they stray far from the Land of Enchantment. Journalist Dan Vukelich has a tale for us from his days in DC as a writer for the Washington Times:

I had returned to ABQ in the fall of 1988 and the aroma of roasted green chile was in the air. I bought a full sack of green chile to take back to Washington. By the time I changed planes in Dallas, I was basically back in D.C., as suits and power ties, and briefcases boarded the plane.

At the baggage claim at National Airport in DC , amid the designer luggage, my burlap sack reinforced with rope finally rolled down the chute, filling the room with the smell of fresh, unroasted green chile. The assemblage of clearly self-important people recoiled in horror. Some looked at me as if I were a homeless person. As I hefted it from the carousel, a guy in Gucci loafers stepped up and whispered, "These people don't realize that what you have there is pure gold."

Thanks for that memory, Dan. We once bought a pair of Gucci's on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. We're pleased to report that, like your friendly stranger, when we wore them, our fondness for green and red did not suffer.

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