Monday, November 8, 2010

Election Observations: It Was All About Bill

Gov. Bill Richardson says the results of the governor’s race weren’t about him, that it was a national race. This self absolving comes the guy who lied about being drafted by a major league baseball and then, much more important, stuck with the lie for 35 years until Toby Smith of the Albuquerque Journal told the tale.
Two years ago I was saying that Lt. Gov. Diane Denish had two main problems in her race for governor—Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson. Mrs. Clinton was proxy for the heir apparent situation, which Mrs. Clinton blew in her presidential candidacy and which I know affected Lt Gov Denish, though I don’t know how.
The Richardson problem was, basically, that every day Richardson remained governor was a good day for the Republicans and a bad day for Denish and the people of New Mexico.
A corollary problem was that Denish was not only the political heir apparent, she was the establishment heir apparent.
My argument and the argument of others was that Denish needed a complete break with Richardson via a news conference to denounce both his “style” (Denish’s word) and as many policy items as could be found. Instead Denish tried to finesse the relationship, saying that everyone knew her style was quite different from Richardson’s. The worker bees in state government weren’t happy.
Denish could not have anticipated that the Republicans would have a real, viable candidate, unlike in 2002 and 2006. Nor could Denish have anticipated that Susana Martinez would reverse the usual demographics—Hispanic woman from the south—that favored Democrats. This meant the general election was Martinez’ to lose in the sense that the person getting the most votes in not necessarily the “winner” of the election. Denish had to “win” the election.
My nomination for the most significant event in the entire campaign was the day that Martinez went to Roswell and got the money, around $250,000 as I remember, from the guys that disliked Allen Weh, former NM GOP chair and self-financed primary candidate for governor. That money made Martinez competitive. Weh proved a poor candidate, successfully overcoming his marketing budget, and the rest is history.

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