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Monday, April 30, 2007

NM Dems Ready to Win in 2008

New DPNM Chair Brian Colón and wife, Aleli, at Friday gathering in Las Cruces

I'm definitely on a natural high. So if this seems like a "puff piece," so be it; I'm thinking positive. All the events at this weekend's gathering of the NM Democratic tribes in Las Cruces seemed packed with enthusiastic, upbeat, hopeful crowds set on brainstorming and uniting to win everything in sight in the 2008 election cycle.

From the State Party's opening fundraiser Friday at the Mission Inn, to Mayor Marty Chavez's outdoor dessert buffet in the Mission Inn's courtyard afterwards, to Javier Gonzales' free feed at the Double Eagle restaurant that evening, to Lt. Gov. Diane Denish's burrito breakfast Saturday morning at Las Cruces High School, to the day's business meeting and elections, to the late-lunch gathering at DNC Committee member Mary Jane Gwaltney's house after the meeting, to golfing at the local country club, to Team Colón's victory celebration Saturday night at Hotel Encanto, and to many other smaller confabs and strategy sessions -- a productively good time was had by all. (And that doesn't even count our lunch at La Posta de Mesilla on the way back home.) Dems from around state were talkative, engaged and determined to come together to defeat Repub forces at both the local and national levels.

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Chair Melinda Whitley, Stephanie DuBois, Mary Gail Gwaltney, Christy French, Art Terrazas and everyone else from the Dem Party of Dona Ana County pulled out all the stops to host a delightful Dem weekend, from the locally grown pecans and guest packets to the friendly welcomes and helpful advice from officers and rank and file Dems to those driving in from all corners of the state. There were Dems from all walks of life and from all kinds of backgrounds, dressed in a myriad of outfits -- from cowboy hats to formal wear, from antiwar teeshirts to business suits, from turquoise and squash blossom necklaces to peace symbols. There were vets of decades of political battles and those who had never attended an SCC meeting before.


I can't tell you how many times I heard people comment about the pleasures of being in a room or restaurant or patio full of fellow Dems. Everyone was in and out of conversations about the recent presidential debate and Bill Richardson's chances, BushCo's latest fiascos, who's gonna run for the seats of Heather and Pete, tales of Dem victories and losses past, what we have to do to build the Party and win in the future, and just about any other topic you might imagine that has anything at all to do with Democratic political goals: We the people. Liberty and justice for all. Peace and prosperity. Economic fairness, a fair shake and fair trade. Unity out of diversity. A helping hand and equal opportunity. Universal health care and a top notch education. Ending the war NOW and treating our returning vets with the dignity and honor they deserve. Renewable energy and green technology. Family values of the inclusive kind.



Not all was sweetness and light, of course. With opinionated, passionate Dems, it never is. There was a fair amount of grumbling about the Judicial Council's decision on the Taos County controversies and challenge, about Dems who won't speak truth to power, about the tepidness of some candidates and office holders, about this faction or that being out to lunch. Of course there are still problems and prejudices within the Party and without.


But all in all, this was a Party uniting around Brian Colón as Chair -- with almost 80% of the votes -- and bubbling with energy ready to be aimed at Repub opponents in every race. It was also a Party where grassroots activists and ordinary Dems ran for and won many offices and committee slots down ticket. I think we have an abundance of strong, active Dems at every level of the Party and from all three Congressional Districts. Party building and reform, reachout, fundraising and seeing that candidates take positions with backbone are just some of the goals on the minds of Dems -- along with victories up and down the ticket of course. 


New State Chair Colón's wife Aleli and son Rafael together gave a terrific nominating speech for Brian -- including a bilingual segment by Rafael. Colón himself spoke of his very modest beginnings and how Democratic programs and genuine family values helped give him a lift up and onto the road to his present successes. He said it's now his turn to give back so Democratic priniciples can help others. As for the other nominees for State Chair, Raymond Sanchez's nominating speech for Michael Olguin was full of reminders about the kinds of liberal victories they and others like them had helped bring to life over many years of service, while 27 year old Gideon Elliot spoke of the need to reach out to younger voters, who are increasingly registering as independents instead of Dems. Let's hope these candidates and their supporters will now unite behind Colón and work hard on the very issues they highlighted in their campaigns.


Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (above) received a couple of standing ovations from the crowd -- one when she was introduced and one after giving a rousing speech with more than a few tidbits from Lee Iacocca's intro to his new book, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" including the gist of this gem:

Am I the only one in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic.

Denish also pointedly mentioned that we all need to work to get rid of Sen. Domenici -- not give him a free ride as some Dems seem to be doing. Can't agree more. No Dems supporting Pete!


State Auditor Hector Balderas spoke eloquently about how we can regain a positive role on the world scene through diplomacy and a generous spirit, and how critically important it is to do so. Outgoing State Chair John Wertheim received many words of thanks and a parting gavel, we heard from reps from the offices of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Tom Udall, and from Attorney General Gary King. We greeted and mingled with other Dem officials in the crowd, including current Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich, 3rd CD Congressional primary candidates Al Kissling and Bill McCamley; Senatorial primary candidates Leland Lehrman and Jim Hannan, House Speaker Ben Lujan; State Reps Mimi Stewart, Al Park, Joseph Cervantes, Joni Gutierrez, John Heaton, Mary Helen Garcia and Mary Kay Papen; State Senators Michael Sanchez, Ben Altamirano and Mary Jane Garcia; Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez; ex-UNM President Louis Caldera and many others. Perhaps most importantly, ordinary Dems from all over the Land of Enchantment talked the talk and promised to walk the walk to make our Party stronger, larger, fairer and more active between now and the 2008 elections.


I know, my take is rather colored by the upbeat mood I found at the gatherings, but I think it's pretty accurate. If you attended any of the weekend's events, what did you think? What's important as we head into another election cycle? What do we want from our new leadership team? What do we need to contribute to achieve those goals? Let the brainstorming continue....

Note: More photos will be available in online albums shortly. All photos in this post by Mary Ellen Broderick. Click on images for larger versions. Also see our previous post on our new Democratic officers and committee members.

April 30, 2007 at 01:41 PM in Candidates & Races, Democratic Party, Events | Permalink


This was my first meeting. I was elected to scc this month. I loved talking to people from all the state. It was fun and rewarding. I like our new officers and everyone I met talked about how hard they want to work to get rid of Bush, Wilson and Domenici once and for all. We can do it!

Posted by: new scc member | Apr 30, 2007 5:11:10 PM

I was there too and you're right about the atmosphere and energy. What a difference from past meetings. We're on a roll if we all work hard.

Posted by: SCC too | Apr 30, 2007 6:03:46 PM

This could be the start of a really good several years if we work it right and we work. Congratulations to all the new officers and all the new precinct and ward chairs too. Let's work together and WIN.

Posted by: Old Dem | Apr 30, 2007 6:56:31 PM

The Taos County decision was poor but the rest of the meeting was very good but long. We hope the new chairman does a better job than Wertheim in helping us work together instead of making everything harder.

Posted by: Lib | May 1, 2007 7:31:19 AM

What a fun weekend!
thank you dona ana county!
Lots of great energy, lots of ideas.
Lots of talented bright people.
I feel the change.
Do you??

Posted by: Mary Ellen | May 1, 2007 12:15:48 PM

Change takes time!! Thanks to everyone who came together this past weekend and of course supported Brian. The best thing about going to SCC is talking to old friends and making new ones from all over the state. Not only Brian Colon but a whole new team with TYom Buckner as Treasurer and Christy French as the new Secretary.
Mostly I can say there is new found hope and we can take our country back!!
Dona Ana folks you were great hosts to all of us...

Posted by: charlotte | May 1, 2007 10:26:46 PM

Electing Brian Colon as our State Democratic Chair is absolutely terrific! Brian and his family are wonderful and dedicated to being outstanding citizens in this great state. Thank you Brian for being such a terrific friend and Congratulations!
Paul Sanchez Presbyterian Health Plan

Posted by: Paul Sanchez | May 2, 2007 10:59:09 AM

You can say that again about the Dona Ana hosts. Very friendly and fun and they worked their tails off.

I think we have a great slate of officers this time and people were so full of energy about getting rid of the Repugs!

Posted by: San Juan | May 2, 2007 1:14:36 PM

It was my first SCC meeting as well. I learned a lot about the process--and I really enjoyed talking to everyone at the parties. I think Brian Colon is going to be a great leader.

Posted by: Mandales | May 2, 2007 7:00:19 PM