Monday, June 19, 2006

Anyone Want to Play a Little Hardball?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This is Governor Bill Richardson after throwing out the first pitch several years ago at the Mountain West Conference college baseball tournament.

He was a right-handed pitcher at Tufts University. Last year, his status as a drafted player with the Kansas City Athletics’ in 1966 came into question. He later admitted he had not been drafted.

However, unlike many politicians who are asked to throw out the first pitch, Richardson got the ball over the plate.

As an aside, he’s not the only politician in the state who can throw; U.S. Senator Pete Domenici was a pitcher for the University of New Mexico.

Richardson, a Democrat is running for reelection and seems to be eyeing a run for the White House two years from now.

So what's wrong with this picture?

It seems the Republican party threw a curve Richardson’s way this weekend when they accepted the resignation of their gubernatorial candidate, Dr. J.R. Darmron, who excused himself because he could not fulfill his medical and political commitments at the same time. Darmron’s campaign was having serious problems raising money against Richardson’s $7 million war chest.

The New Mexico Republican Party’s State Central Committee replaced Darmron with former State Republican Chairman John Dendhal.

Dendhal received a “unanimous” vote supporting him as the new gubernatorial candidate from the 100-committee members present at their emergency meeting Saturday in Albuquerque. The Central Committee is made up of 350 delegates.

This is Dendhal, seated next to Stephen Calvin-Miller, a sophomore in Latin-American Studies at UNM, who holds up a card with his question for New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson at the Continuing Education building on September 10, 2001. Johnson and Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Asa Hutchinson debated national drug policy.

Johnson had proposed that drug treatment programs be part of any drug offense sentencing to attempt to treat the public health issue rather than solely rely on criminal punishment. He proposed decriminalizing, as opposed to legalizing certain drugs.

The debate was taped for the National Public Radio program "Justice Talking." Calvin-Miller’s question asked whether Johnson had been able to bridge the parties with his drug reform initiatives. Johnson responded that as many Republicans disagreed with him as Democrats.

Dendhal supported Johnson’s decriminalization plans. Democrats are quick to attack him for that stance. He is not a soft and cuddly campaigner, but a harsh spoken attacker who gives no quarter to opponents.

Dendhal fought his way into the leadership position and fought to keep it. He was ousted by the party in 2003 when he lost the chairmanship to former state Senator Ramsey Gorham.

There is a saying that fits here, “If you want to play hardball, then ‘Batter Up!’”

Now the gubernatorial election is a whole new ball game.

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