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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sound Off: Madrid's Madness by Peter Bafangazi

Editor's Note: This Sound Off was submitted by Peter Bafangazi. Sound Off is a sometimes feature of this blog designed to give our readers a chance to post their own personal views. If you'd like to submit a Sound Off of your own, use the email link near the top of the right-hand sidebar on this page.

Consider the following:

You're the first female ever elected Attorney General in the State's history, the first Hispanic female elected Attorney General of any state in the nation.  The State's past AG's have gone on to hold federal office -- Jeff Bingaman becoming Senator, Tom Udall becoming Representative of the 3rd CD -- and now it's your turn to move on, but where to?  You've done a pretty good job as AG: fighting against such things as ID theft and child predators on the internet and scored political points on a  bunch of issues. You look in the mirror, and think, "gosh darnit, I'm good enough and people like me. Heck, they need me...but in what office?"

The Governor of the State is running for reelection even though he will probably only serve two years of his next term before running for President. The Lt. Governor is running for reelection and will most likely become Governor when Big Bill makes his move. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, with a 70+ approval rating, is running for reelection and there's no chance of beating him in a primary. Sen. Pete Domenici isn't up for election until 2008 and will probably retire, in which case, word on the street is that Heather is the heir apparent, even if Steve Pearce has something to say about it. So Senate is out of the question, at least till 2008, and then even if you made it out of a primary, you'd still have to face a tough Republican in the general. No guarantee of winning there.  Hmm... what to run for? Hmmm.....

2002 was going to be your year to run for Governor, but Big Bill nixed that. In 2004 you got your own little piece of the limelight courtesy of John Edwards, but that didn't last too long.  The question is, what do you want to do? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Governor? (maybe) Lt. Governor? No, not good enough. Congress? Mmm, maybe you'd prefer Senate? Senate wouldn't be bad. President? No, not likely. Vice President? What?

Yeah, Vice President. Hmm. Like the sound of that don't you? After all, John Edwards is running again, you were a prominent part of his campaign and he was just in Albuquerque with you for that living wage rally. Vice President ! Hell, what would be a better way to stick it to Bill in 2008 then by becoming the Vice Presidential pick for the candidate that inevitably beats Big Bill?! Ok, so what do we do between 2006 and 2008 to increase your profile, your value on the market?

Well, lets consider the political landscape:

Disapproval of the President and his policies is hovering around 56%, 64% of Americans rate Republican job performance in Congress as only fair / poor (highest levels of disastisfaction with the direction of the country since  the 1997 shutdown of the federal government by Newt).

In polling of likely voters conducted as recently as July 19-25 by Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research, 48% of respondents said they would vote for the Democrat compared to the 41% who said they would vote for the Republican in upcoming congressional elections.

In polling for ABC News/Wall Street Journal conducted July 8-11, 1009 adults were asked "In the next election for U.S. Congress, do you feel that your representative deserves to be reelected, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?" 46% said it was time to give a new person a chance, 41% said their current rep deserves to reelected and 13% said they were unsure. 

a) Run for Congress against Heather Wilson, a champion of the very policies that have led this nation in a decidedly wrong direction. Challenge Heather to defend her defense of bad policies backed by bad intelligence backed by bad actors. Help put America on the right course by taking one of the Republican party's rising stars out of office. Become a leader in Congress.

b) Run for Land Commissioner. Heck it's statewide office. You could beat Pat Lyons (maybe). The job deals with the environment and you like the environment. Plus, it's an untraditional career choice that might gain you some good PR -- you can say you did it because you love the environment: birds, trees, land, etc.

c) Challenge the incumbent Lt. Governor and fellow Democrat Diane Denish. This isn't like any race for Lt. Governor we've had before, it's a race to replace Bill when he runs for President in 2008. Figure he's going to have to step down from office sometime after the 2007 legislative session --figure late March 07' -- and then the Lt. Governor becomes Governor. You win, and you can position yourself for 2008. No one shows interest in having you run on their ticket so, what, you could be Governor for almost 11 years -- finish up Bill's remaining three plus eight years of your own. 

d) none of the above.
e) all of the above.
f) some and none of all of the above.

Well, if you're Patricia Madrid, evidently you call your favorite celebrity gossip columnist, Joe Monahan and contemplate the sun, the moon and the stars of your political career before all New Mexico. Indeed, that's what Patricia did last week when, according to Monahan, Madrid "did everything but take a Heather challenge off the table when she phoned in Monday to comment about the blog and La Politica." Madrid, term limited as AG, actually stated that she was considering a challenge to Lt. Governor Diane Denish, as well as a run for Land Commissioner, in which case she would likely square off against Albuquerque City Councilor and rising star, Martin Heinrich, in the primary.

This revelation raises worrisome questions about the priorities of the State's Democratic elected officials and the ability of the State Party's current administration to capitalize on the changing tide in the nation against Republican dominance of government. 

Why would Patricia Madrid, a Democrat who has been heavily courted by party leaders at the national level to run against Heather, instead wish to challenge fellow Dem, Lt. Governor Denish in a primary, potentially splitting the party?

One answer that comes to mind is that Patricia Madrid has gone bonkers and actually thinks she could defeat Diane Denish on the issues. Wait, what issues? Denish arguably has more experience running New Mexico than any other Lt. Gov in recent history, filling in for Bill Richardson every time he leaves the state. And Denish has deftly governed the State Senate through three of the  busiest and most contentious legislative sessions in history, all while championing the welfare, education and health of New Mexico's children. All in all, it's hard to find a Democrat who thinks Denish isn't doing a bang-up job as Lt. Governor.

A more likely, but purely speculative answer, is two fold: family and money.

Patsy wouldn't float the trial balloon of running against Denish if she didn't think she had a shot at actually pulling it off, meaning that there are actually some people out there are probably encouraging Madrid to jump in the ring against Denish. And if you've ever attended an event with the State Party Chair and the AG, then undoubtedly you will recall one or the other mentioning that they're cousins.

The Wertheim link may be convoluted, but nonetheless an important one to consider. Think of Miles Nelson, a guy who got no help from the party establishment when running for Congress, who got beat and (rightfully) got angry and (not rightfully) split. Wertheim ran twice, 1996 and 2000, and got no help from the Party establishment either time. Who was the Party Chair in 1996? Diane Denish.

(This is the Rumsfeldian portion of the article where I ask myself rhetorical questions and then give answers anyway.) Is it possible Wertheim has a beef with the Lt. Gov? Yes. He's human. Could it be that Wertheim is tired of his failures as Chair being compared to Denish's successes as Chair? Don't know, but you've got to think he's compensating for something more than just his height.

Regardless, the Wertheim / Denish and Denish / Madrid splits are as well known in some political circles as the Madrid / Governor split is by the general news-reading public. It's a political reality, meaning that if Madrid is serious about running for Lt. Governor and if blood is thicker than water, then Wertheim sides with Cousin Patsy. So what does this mean? Nothing, except that if Patsy goes ahead with challenging Diane, she would most likely have some backing from some Party elites.

On the money front, running for Congress isn't cheap and would require a lot of cash, which Madrid doesn't seem to have much difficulty raising for her 527 PAC, Justice for America Inc., which according to May 2005 filings with the Secretary of State's office had over $126,000 in contributions. However, Madrid can't use a penny of that money in a run for federal office, meaning she could only use it in a statewide race, hence Lt. Governor or Land Commissioner.

Another factor to consider is that Patricia doesn't think she could actually beat Heather Wilson if she were to challenge her for the first CD, so the AG is just stirring the political pot to see what rises to the top.

This sort of political behavior is what gives politicians a bad rap; self-interested instead of selfless. The cavalier manner in which the AG tossed out the idea of challenging Denish or jumping into the the Land Commissioner's race, where she would ulimately have more cash than Heinrich, is the type of behavior that makes even friends cringe. New Mexico needs people who can and will put New Mexico first, instead of their own political careers, and we need them badly.

August 31, 2005 at 02:09 PM in Local Politics, Sound Off! | Permalink | Comments (6)

How to Help Hurricane Victims

We'll be collecting donations for the Red Cross at tomorrow's DFA-DFNM Meetup. Here are some other ways to give. Patience is required. I've been trying to click on the Red Cross page on and off all morning without success. It must be swamped, which is a good thing.

Courtesy of League of Conservation Voters:

Charity Navigator provides information on charities and tips on giving.

American Red Cross, 800-HELP-NOW (435-7669) English, 800-257-7575 Spanish.


America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070.
Adventist Community Services, 800-381-7171.
Catholic Charities USA, 800-919-9338.
Christian Disaster Response, 941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554.
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 800-848-5818.
Church World Service, 800-297-1516.
Convoy of Hope, 417-823-8998.
Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522.
Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210.
Nazarene Disaster Response, 888-256-5886.
Operation Blessing, 800-436-6348.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, 800-872-3283.
Salvation Army, 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, 800-462-8657, Ext. 6440.
United Methodist Committee on Relief, 800-554-8583.

Local blog has a link to a growing collection of Hurricane Katrina photo galleries.

And what was our president doing yesterday in San Diego? Celebrating our victory over Japan in WWII and playing the guitar in San Diego:


August 31, 2005 at 11:44 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

REMINDER: Live Music Benefit Tonight for Griego Campaign

Come on down to a night of live music and fun to benefit Eric Griego for Mayor:

Red Earth
Mystic Vision
and More

4th and Central in Downtown Albuquerque
5:30-10:30 PM

Food, Live Music, Spirits

Click for pdf flyer.

August 30, 2005 at 04:20 PM in Candidates & Races, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

DPBC Resolutions Committee Meeting Set for 9/7

The Resolutions Committee of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County has scheduled its next meeting:

DPBC Resolutions Committee Meeting
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Plumbers Hall
510 San Pedro SE

This meeting is open to all Democrats.

If you'd like to submit a resolution for consideration by this committee, please contact your ward chair who can put you in touch with your Resolutions Committee member, or contact Terri Holland at the Bernalillo County Dem Office for more information: call 256-1855 or email info@BernalilloDems.org

Resolutions passed at the County Party level will be submitted to the State Party's Resolutions Committee. If approved, they will be submited to the State Central Committee for consideration. The State Central Committee is expected to hold its next meeting sometime in October.

Click for a list of resolutions passed at the State Central Committee meeting in April of this year.

August 30, 2005 at 04:12 PM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Los Lunas, 9/1: Social Security Town Hall Meeting


All are invited:
Students, Retirees, Senior Citizens, Labor and Communities

University of New Mexico Valencia County Campus,
Student Community Center
280 La Entrada
Los Lunas, New Mexico 87031
September 1, 2005, Thursday 12:00 – 2:00 PM

Panel and Special Guests
Refreshment will be provided
Michelle Mares 505-306-2157
Bonnie Greathouse 505-319-9023
Rose Peters 505-400-2904

August 30, 2005 at 11:37 AM in Events | Permalink | Comments (2)

Teamsters Endorse Eric Griego for Mayor

The Albuquerque Local Union No. 492 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Monday announced its endorsement of City Councilor Eric Griego in the upcoming mayoral election.

“We need a mayor that will support the working class,” said Robert D. Younger, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 492. “A mayor who will not forget who elected him and why he was elected. We need a change and we need to elect a mayor for the people. This is why the Teamsters’ Executive Board unanimously endorses Eric Griego.”

Griego, who is himself a union member, has a history of working with labor unions and of fighting for workers rights.

“My family instilled in me the value of a hard day’s work,” Griego said. “I have always stood with working people because I myself am a worker. It’s an honor now for me to have my brothers and sisters in the Teamsters stand with me as I fight to return good labor practices to our city.”

The Teamsters endorsement added to the list of organizations officially supporting Griego’s candidacy. They include: AFSCME, UFCW, Democracy for New Mexico, Sierra Club, Conservation Voters New Mexico and ACORN.

“I’ve always said that you can tell a lot about people by who they stand with,” Griego said. “I am proud to stand with working families, conservation groups, and other core Democratic constituencies who, like me, believe that a living wage, a well-planned city and a strong education system will move our city forward.”

For more info visit Griego's campaign website.

August 30, 2005 at 08:49 AM in Candidates & Races, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2005

NM Recount Case Makes News

Washington Post excerpt:

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The state's highest court was asked Monday to order a recount in the razor-close 2004 presidential election in New Mexico even though it's too late for a new vote tabulation to change the outcome.

A lawyer for Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik made the request to the New Mexico Supreme Court during a hearing on a challenge to the state's handling of the candidates' request for a recount.

Cobb and Badnarik contend they were wrongly required to pay $1.4 million as a security deposit for a recount, which never happened because of the legal dispute over the cost.

John Boyd, a lawyer for Cobb and Badnarik, said a recount of paper ballots and a recheck of voting machine results was still needed to highlight problems with New Mexico's election system.

"There is no more important issue than the purity of elections in this state," Boyd told justices during an hour-long hearing. "And I will tell ... the court that the elections are not pure."

Articles on this case also in appeared Salon and the Guardian UK.

You can find more information on the 2004 election problems in NM at Voter Action. This site also describes another lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of NM voters that aims to obtain a permanent injunction against use of the voting machines linked to the problems.

August 29, 2005 at 04:08 PM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (3)

NOLA Hangs In


I got hung up watching the repetitive and rather hysterical coverage of Hurricane Katrina last night, bringing back many sweet and bittersweet memories of youthful visits to New Orleans and Biloxi. I'm so lucky to have experienced short spurts of the Crescent City and environs before it got as cleaned up and gentrified as it is today. Back when the Jax beer factory was still a factory and the Mississippi River front was still funky and Cafe Du Monde was more raggedy and downhome. Back when many of the buildings of the French Quarter remained unrenovated and some coins could buy you a plate of red beans and rice if you knew where to go. When you could still find run-down places to rent for cheap in the Quarter or the shotgun shacks down the way, and you had to exhibit some bravado to do so.

I could go on with the memories but I'll spare you. Still, I find myself pining for a chickory-laced cafe au lait and some beignets this morning, and I can almost recapture the mix of earthy smells and sounds and textures of a walk in the morning drizzle there, something green sprouting out of every nook and cranny.

Last night in front of the TV I kept returning to the chant, "turn East, turn East". Remarkably, Katrina did, at the very last moment, sparing New Orleans the very, very worst case scenario that held real possibilities for almost total destruction. I know that things will still likely be incredibly bad there, and farther East toward Biloxi and the Mississippi and Alabama coasts, as well as inland. Levees could still break and flooding and wind damage will no doubt be widespread and severe. I feel for the people caught in the maelstrom, and in the awful aftermath. But I have the hopeful feeling this morning that at least some of the dear essence of NOLA will survive, as it has for hundreds of years. Damp, worn, a little damaged and decrepit, but still kicking.

August 29, 2005 at 09:47 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday (Political) Bird Blogging

Bosco the peach-faced lovebird, being a loyal member of DFA-Democracy for New Mexico and a passionate progressive, is doing all he can to get Eric Griego elected as Mayor of Albuquerque:


Bosco is also a strong supporter of Marianne Dickinson, running for City Council in District 7, and he gets into being a progressive netroots activist. Here he's making a visit to Marianne's website to make a donation:


If a lovebird can be this active, think what YOU can do! Just some of Bosco's favorite campaign websites:

Eric Griego for Mayor

Marianne Dickinson for City Council, Dist. 7

Ike Benton for City Council, Dist. 3

Chris Catechis for City Council, Dist. 9

Albuquerque Living Wage Campaign

Common Cause Campaign for Open and Ethical Elections Code

(Click on photos for larger images.)

August 28, 2005 at 10:59 AM in Bird Blogging, Democratic Party, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Keep On Talking

Heather_1The national political blog TPM Cafe has picked up on Joe Monahan's item and our discussion about a candidate to run against Heather Wilson.

Cafe's jgmallory mulls the possible reasons why one hasn't yet emerged and laments what appears to be shaping up as a free ride for Rep. Wilson. Read down a bit and you'll see the link to our original post on this, which generated a good discussion on candidates the progressive community might support.

Excerpt from TPM Cafe:

[The lack of a Dem to run against Heather] . . . shows that the national party's stagnation can reach the state level even in a state with a strong Democratic governor and a fully-Dem legislature, and in a city that is itself pretty solidly Dem . . . The failure here has to be on the political level, because there is no reason for this district to be safe R . . .

. . . So without the national party's backing, it looks like there might be nobody to stand up to Heather. The national party's stagnation has reached inward to the state level, and looks like it will result in Heather getting a free ride. I think that is a crucial strategic error and a terribly sad mistake.

One of the commenters at TPM Cafe also goes into the adventures of Miles Nelson in the 2004 Congressional primary and compares him to Paul Hackett.

While we got a good start on discussing possible candidates in our first DFNM thread, there's still alot to hash out. Come on, it's the weekend, you've got a little time to comment! Do it here and/or at the Cafe! --BW

August 26, 2005 at 06:48 PM in Candidates & Races, Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (14)