Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Partying Like It's 1979; A Bipartisan Christmas Bash; D's And R's Getting Along Like Scotch And Soda; Click Your Mouse And Toast The Retro Holiday 

D Guv Apodaca & R Vivian Cordova
It seems it was Christmases long ago when D's and R's could get together and celebrate without rancor or resentment. Heck, today you can barely get both sides in the same room during a Legislative session. But you don't have to wax sentimental to get a dose of the "Good Ol' Days" when La Politica was bloody, but not a blood sport. You just show up at the annual Xmas bash thrown in ABQ's NE Heights by longtime R Kurt Lohbeck and his artist-of-note-wife Barbara. There, just like they used to at the old Santa Fe Bullring, the two sides mix it up with scotch as the lubricant and heaping platters of delicious, politically incorrect food serving as the tie that binds.

Over 250 guests trekked through the Lohbeck digs Sunday, including former Dem Guv Jerry Apodaca, former ABQ R Congressman and Secretary of Interior (and my old boss) Manuel Lujan, Jr. and Attorney General and D congressional hopeful Patricia Madrid. News headliners included veteran political operative, businessman, boxing promoter, Friend of Big Bill and NM Game Commission Chair Guy Riordan.

With Riordan in the news, my conversation with him and Governor Jerry turned comical. As we huddled in a kitchen corner Guy would interject every few seconds, "Joe, this is off the record." I took the hint and killed the instant text messages to the ABQ Journal. Jerry sported a wry smile as if recollecting all those times (1975-78) he was the one on the hot seat. Today he works with Santa Fe lobbyist Butch Maki, enjoys his grandchildren and the success of his former wife and NM First Lady Clara who recently returned from D.C. to a high-powered position at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation.

Samantha & Patsy Madrid
An interesting moment came when Madrid and Lujan kibitzed over the groaning buffet table. Was congressman past with congresswoman future? Patsy hopes so and rattled off a litany of issues she sees coming in her showdown with R Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Helping her on the trail will be her niece, Samantha Madrid from Las Cruces, who will tackle the campaign before tackling law school and adding another lawyer to the Madrid stable. The spirit of the affair was bipartisan, but Manuel, 77, is a straight-ticket R and wife Jeanne makes sure he stays that way.

Other political talk focused on the race you would expect, the four way Dem duel for Attorney General. D assistant ABQ city attorney and former City Councilor Pete "The Demolisher" Dinelli handicaps AG for Gary King. Dinelli is in charge of tearing down condemned properties and has done such a thorough job folks were crossing out their addresses when they handed him their biz cards. But that won't stop Pete's political itch. Someday you just may see him run for AG, but right now he and wife Betty are celebrating the season and the re-election of his boss, Mayor Marty.

Jessica Kartalija & Kurt Lohbeck
Generation X was ably represented by KOB-TV anchor/reporter Jessica Kartalija who lamented the heavy news menu despite the approach of the holidays. "I need a vacation," she exclaimed. But in her biz a vacation is a twenty minute nap. Sorry guys, Jessica was accompanied by her boyfriend who will go nameless out of courtesy for his safety from you jealous types.

And what of Big Bill's re-election? That's as expected as Santa on Christmas Eve, if not as anticipated. But lifelong R, biz exec, and ex-State Fair Commission Chair Tom Tinnin gave it a try as he nursed some spirits in Kurt's corridor. He bemoaned the lack of aggressiveness in pursuing the Guv in the GOP, among the media, the Legislature, the...Well, you get the idea. But it was nothing personal, winked Tom, reminding us as we greeted the crisp night air accented with a whiff of pinon of the way it was on those Christmases long ago.

Keep the politics coming. E-mail your latest news, tidbits and comments. And, as always, thanks for tuning in.

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