Job Description: The federal representative for New Mexicans living in the first Congressional district. Drafts and votes on legislation.
Term: Two years
Incumbent Heather Wilson and Attorney General Patricia Madrid have created one of the ugliest races in recent New Mexico history. They’ve been attacking each other like a pair of post-coital praying mantises, and the result ain’t pretty. Such behavior, not just by them but by any candidate that resorts to mud-slinging, is pitiful, shameful and utterly nauseating. Even so, we all knew it was coming. If it weren’t for the fact that voters bite at that most disgraceful of election-year hooks—the negative campaign ad—the politicians wouldn’t resort to it in the first place. So we’re partly to blame.
That said, we still have to decide between them, and we can no longer use sleaze as a measure, since they’ve both demonstrated it in equal amounts.
The Wilson-Madrid race is record-breaking. According to pollster Brian Sanderoff (read “Talking Points” on page 8 for more details), Wilson has never been behind her opponent in an Albuquerque Journal poll. Likewise, a Democratic challenger has never been ahead. The reasons why? Sanderoff lays them out: Iraq, Iraq and Iraq. The same trend is emerging all over the nation—constituents are furious about the war, the politicians who support it and the president who started it, and many of them will ask for a change on Tuesday.
Neither Wilson nor Madrid are perfect candidates. Madrid has been accused of not being tough enough on the Robert Vigil case. She’s come off (especially after last week’s televised debate) as being somewhat incompetent.
Yet despite Madrid’s faults, she has a number of points working in her favor. She’s correct in saying this administration and its supporters in Congress have blundered through this war and should be held responsible. As she said in her interview with the Alibi, “There are no simple answers, but ‘staying the course’ is not a strategy.” She wants to initiate a plan to withdraw our troops from Iraq as soon as possible. Madrid also recognizes some of the glaring problems with the state of the country. For one, the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in nine years, while Congress has voted to give itself a raise more than once in that time. She says she’ll never vote to raise Congress’ salary until the minimum wage is increased.
Madrid has also been a strong advocate for environmental issues: She was one of four attorney generals that sued President Bush when he tried to relax the Roadless Rule, which prevented some wilderness lands from being opened to mining and drilling. The attorney generals won the suit, which is now in appeal. A few years ago, Madrid, along with other AGs, sued Bush on the regulation of greenhouse gases. They won that one as well, and the case is now in the Supreme Court. Madrid has also sued to protect Otero Mesa from oil and gas development. Because of her past, we believe her when she says she’ll fight for an overhauled energy bill that will further support renewables.
During her term in office, Madrid funded programs to stop violence against women and online sex predators. These are strong accomplishments. Other ideas she has for Congress are to establish a national law for predatory lending and stop giving tax breaks to the wealthy, instead using the money to bolster Medicare.
As far as Wilson goes, she’s done a good job lately of making herself look independent. She’s also been quite successful at promoting herself as someone who cares about the environment and raising the minimum wage—stances that make her more appealing to Democrats. Don’t get us wrong: Wilson is smart, tactful and influential. We just don’t agree with most of her positions.
Wilson isn’t independent. She voted for bills the president supported almost every step of the way. She’s also not an environmentalist. She’s graced the League of Conservation Voters’ Dirty Dozen List. She voted to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And although she helped protect some wilderness areas locally, like the Ojito Wilderness, such accomplishments certainly aren’t the norm for her.
Wilson approved mistreatment of suspected terrorists by voting for the detention bill that allows for such despicable behavior. She voted for all four of the tax cuts that were given to the wealthiest in the nation. The minimum wage bill she voted for was tied to an estate tax that would have also benefited the wealthy—true supporters of raising the minimum wage voted against the bill.
But the final blow to Wilson is her ceaseless support for the war. Because Wilson sits on the Intelligence Committee, she was well aware that there were serious flaws in the Bush administration’s argument that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. She backed the war anyway.
Wilson isn’t all bad—she’s done some good things for New Mexico. And Madrid isn’t all good—she doesn’t exactly emanate honesty. But Wilson’s support of the war in the face of the privileged information she was given is unforgivable. Additionally, this country is in dire need of Democratic control in the House. Because of this, we strongly endorse Patricia Madrid for Congress.