To loosely quote a famous philosopher whose name I forget: Elections are the process by which the people are free to choose the person who will get the blame later.
Forget local politics, this year’s election is clearly about who gets the blame for Iraq, Foleygate and corruption. The loser seems to be President Dubya and anyone associated with him.
With less than a week before the election, it looks like the Grand Old Party is going to be handed its head on a combination plate. Democrats from the County Commission to the U.S. Senate are licking their whiskers at what's looking like a massacre.
But is the anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war wave enough to give Dems a clean sweep in the statewide offices and the key Congressional race here in Burque? As this column goes to print, things look pretty good for the party of FDR. But as my abuela used to say, “Don’t count your shickens before they cook.”
Despite being a majority Democratic state by registration, we've elected two Republicans and one Democrat to serve in the U.S. Congress and our two senators are from different parties. For the first time in New Mexico history, a Democrat could win in the Congressional seat here in Albuquerque between Patsy “Is this thing on?” Madrid versus Heather “George Bush Who?” Wilson.
The catfight has been painful to watch as each has accused the other of everything but bestiality and plotting to assassinate the president, although Heather’s ads come pretty close. Republicans are praying Madrid’s lackluster performance and gaffes in the sole televised debate may give them some material for a couple of last-minute Hail Marys, but the anti-Bush winds are clearly with Madrid.
Meanwhile, at the state level, pobre State Land Commissioner Pat “Deputy Dog” Lyons has been the lone Republican state-elected official for the past four years. He's managed to accomplish much, if you consider selling state lands and the resources they hold to the highest bidder success. Environmentalist Democratic challenger Jim “Mr. Personality” Baca is ahead in the polls and may ride the Democractic wave to victory if he avoids direct contact with voters.
The governor’s race has been a nonevent and more of a prelude to a likely presidential run for Richardson. He's been able to run ads on everything from renewable energy to national security with no challenge from the Republicans. The best they could muster was a lame ad asking why he travels so much and whether he's really running for president. Come again? What inbred conservative strategist decided it was a good idea to go after Richardson for being a viable contender for president? That would be terrible for New Mexico. Man, times are tough at the Republican Governor’s Association if that's the best they could "strategerize." State GOP hopes that John Dendahl would at least score some sucker punches on the governor were dashed when within weeks of announcing; he put his foot in his mouth more times than Mark Foley e-mailed Congressional pages.
The Republican strategy of focusing on taking over the secretary of state's and attorney general’s offices seems shaky. Baptist boy scout-lookin' Jim Bibb, despite help from the Republican machine and former Democratic Gov. Toney Anaya (his father-in-law) comes across as too green to be attorney general and will likely lose handily to Gary King.
The Republican Party is going all-in for the Secretary of State’s race, most recently running ads hitting Democrat Mary Herrera for hiring criminals at the County Clerk’s Office. At least they weren’t relatives. The state and National Republican Party really hope the matronly, Christian Conservative Republican Vickie Perea, formerly a Democrat, will win so they can control the 2008 presidential election. If this were a contest based on who has the best hair, Herrera would win hands-down.
No matter the outcome, the campaign of 2006 will go down in New Mexico history not only for the largest number of television ads, but for how downright ridiculous some of them were. Top honors have to go to the Wilson/Domenici ad where the Republicans try to scare everyone to death on how dangerous the world is because of terrorists. Of course, Bush’s failed diplomacy, pre-emptive war on Iraq and jihad on Islamic countries had nothing to do with that.
In the Domenici ad endorsing his protégé Heather Wilson, the tag line actually says, “Proven Leadership for a Dangerous World.” Are you freaking kidding me? I know it's Halloween season, but do Republican strategists really believe they can scare independents and swing voters into voting for Wilson? This rerun is worse than Scream 3. And that was terrible.
Honors also have to go to Gary King’s “Crazy Guy in a Junkyard” ad. King is a credible candidate but looks like someone in search of mental health services as he wanders through the junkyard talking about DWI. Thank god someone chained up the pitbulls.
Even if it is a clean sweep for Democrats at the state and federal level, don’t expect a big change. The Dems have run the show at the state level for many years and not much will change there. At the national level, even if the Dems take over the House as expected, Bush will likely go down swinging in the last two years of what will prove to be a failed presidency. A Senate takeover by Dems is possible, but even that will not drastically change the country’s direction as long as Senate Republicans can filibuster and Bush can veto anything Dems do. God bless our system of checks and balances.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote. This year’s election battle will set the tone and terms for the 2008 presidential election. It could mean everything for where our state and our country are going. Then again, if you stay home, you get to blame someone else if things go wrong.