Tuesday, June 29, 2010
New Mexico Politics Enters A Lilliputian Era, Plus: State Of The Guv Race, And: Our Lincoln Days Summer
New Mexico politics is in a Lilliputian stage. The big names are all gone or going and those left in their wake have only a superficial relationship with the public. As a result, negative campaigning will be even more fierce because voters do not have past records to measure and consultants will seize on that opening to give definition to the opposition candidate.
Let's reflect for a moment on what has happened here in the last two years.
Senator Pete Domenici ended a 36 year tenure and retired; Governor Richardson--like him or not--is another of the most skilled politicians of his generation--is now fading into the mists; GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson--controversial, but a major league player--is also gone. ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez--another lightning rod politico but one with deep political abilities--is also off the stage. Longtime and powerful House Speaker Ben Lujan hit the skids recently when he narrowly escaped defeat in the primary. That signals the beginning of what will be a long end; Former Governor Bruce King, a guiding light even in retirement, passed from the scene.
Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of energy and on the Hill since '83, stands alone in wielding the kind of power that New Mexico has been accustomed to in its political leadership in the past decade.
It was an abnormal era to have so many heavyweights in the political ring simultaneously, but New Mexicans became used to having these reliable touchstones. Now they are all gone and our future leadership is as uncertain as the times in which we live. "
STATE OF THE RACE
The ABQ Journal's Winthrop Quigley takes on Campaign 2010, and he probably won't get much push back from voters:
Thus far in this campaign we've heard that Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is a Richardson clone, which she is not, and that District Attorney Susana Martinez coddles criminals, which she doesn't. These are campaigns noticeably bereft of wisdom and maturity. When the candidates are done smearing each other, it would be nice if they noticed New Mexico has some of the nation's most pressing social needs and can't afford to address them....
It is the sheer irrelevancy of the majority of the Guv debate thus far---esoteric crime statistics and the like--that has made the campaign seem so, well, irrelevant, to so many voters.
Denish has stuck her head out of the mud on occasion to come with an economic related message. Maybe that's a hopeful sign.
Surely, the Martinez record as Dona Ana district attorney and the Denish tenure as lieutenant Governor deserve scrutiny, but where's the real stuff?
These "modern" political campaigns remind us of botched surgery--you come out alive but damaged for life.
Reader Peter Ives thinks we weren't clear enough in a recent post on how long New Mexico governors were allowed to serve prior to 1970.
Yes, there were two year terms, but the total could exceed four years. Gov. Ed Mechem was in his fourth term (non-consecutive) when he had himself appointed to the late Dennis Chavez' Senate seat (in 1962)...
That's true. New Mexico governors were elected to two-year terms when Mechem served, from 1951 to 1954, in 1957 and 1958 and in 1961 and 1962. He was the state's only four-term governor. Mechem died in 2002 at the age of 90.
Today a governor can serve two four year terms. But he or she could run again for the office if they sat out a term--just as Ed Mechem was fond of doing.
One of our longtime sponsors, Animal Protection Voters NM, has some news:
APNM announced the launch of Train. Don't Chain.®, a statewide campaign to end the cruel and dangerous practice of chaining dogs.
One tool being used in the campaign is APNM's public service announcement, "Even Dogs Have Dreams," which shows chaining from a dog's perspective.
APNM has also developed a new Web destination which offers positive solutions and humane alternatives to chaining as it explores why chaining is a practice that should be relegated to the history books...
Here we are with Billy the Kid (any resemblance is purely coincidental) on a recent visit to the Lincoln County Courthouse, site of The Kid's notorious jail break.
We were on ou way back to ABQ from Ruidoso and a stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods on the Mescalero Apache reservation. We soaked up plenty of state history in both locales.
Ruidoso is filled with Texans--as it should be in summer. The shops along Sudderth seemed to be doing fairly well--there were no empty ones--but the merchandise was decidedly low-end, leaving us speculating that shop keepers don't want to carry expensive inventory in this kind of economy.
A drive thru the Hondo Valley and tiny Tinnie was reassuring as local landmark the Tinnie Silver Dollar Steak House & Saloon was still standing. And a relaxing stop at a Hondo fruit stand amid the cool mountain air reminded us that it isn't only northern New Mexico that can quickly captivate your spirit.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
Not for reproduction without permission of the author