« How to Help Hurricane Victims | Main | Forums, Forums Everywhere »

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


Madness is right.

Posted by: El Norte | Sep 1, 2005 9:45:03 AM

El Norte, I don't get it. You say "Madrid's Madness is Right," as in "Go Patricia!" or as in "yeah, you agree, it's too bad she's trying to take out Denish?"

Posted by: Big Sur | Sep 1, 2005 8:43:18 PM

No, I mean her behavior is truly mad. Egotistically mad. Mad at the expense of the future of the Party and of everything that will get worse because of too many politicians that share her selfish views. Me me me me me.

Posted by: El Norte | Sep 2, 2005 11:25:57 AM

This long speak out makes me mad.

All of this figuring and positioning. If this is what is going on in our political leaders' heads....we are screwed. Not a peep about doing something just because they want what is right for the people in this state and in this country. Not a mention of morals and values. I am sure all these career politicos have children and maybe grandchildren, do they have a clue what they are giving to them??

Check out New Orleans...get ready. Because what we have built here is unsustainable, many people are living from pay check to pay check. The political leaders do not have a clue. I think the polical leaders in new orleans are getting a clue.

Posted by: mary ellen | Sep 2, 2005 11:29:10 AM

It's all the same ball of wax. Complete complacency on the part of politicos, party officials and many of the public as well. It hasn't hit home yet. They think they are immune to the forces they have set in motion. Business as usual. The chickens are coming home to roost. Still they all sit there worrying only about their personal power and money. Filthy.

Posted by: Pissed Off Voter | Sep 2, 2005 12:56:19 PM

I think over-analyzing of motives reflects as much on us as any politician. I've worked with Patsy on a number of issues, including payday loans. Whether she had some deep ambitions for something else, she served this state and progressive causes very well in her 8 years as AG.

Maybe we should save our criticism for those who have pursued and/or enacted policies that go against our beliefs rather than criticizing bright, pro-active, progressive leaders like Patsy on purely speculative grounds about her goals and motives.

For what it's worth, I also think Diane has done an excellent job. Let's worry about primaries between the two when it happens, and for now be glad to have such excellent public servants on our side and in power.

Someone on a conservative blog recently blasted Edwards for getting attention for his war on poverty, as if his being in the spotlight constituted intrinsic proof that he couldn't possibly be genuine. I'd submit that he, as well as Patsy and Diane, are indeed genuine. It's worth noting that, other than Rosa Parks, very few people who have ever changed things have been reluctant to step forward and present themselves as agents of that change.

Posted by: Carter Bundy | Nov 4, 2005 4:25:35 PM

Post a comment