Thursday, March 01, 2007


What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Pete Domenici, when he was president of the Albuquerque City Commission, March 28, 1969, throwing out the first pitch at the grand opening of the Albuquerque Sports Stadium.

Domenici had been a Lobo pitcher as an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico before his 1954 graduation. Fifteen years on, he was one of the few politicians I have seen, when throwing out a first pitch, not only was able to reach the plate but, actually threw with any accuracy. Another former college pitcher, alum of Tufts University and current politician who can throw, is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. I understand that former Yale University baseball player and once owner of the Texas Rangers, President George W. Bush, has a good arm.

Last week Domenici announced his candidacy for a seventh, six-year term to the U.S. Senate amidst questions about his health. He turns 74, May 7.

As a matter of disclosure, I photographed Domenici’s 1970 campaign as the Republican candidate for governor when he lost to Bruce King.

I’m not qualified to assess Domenici’s health, but I can, through photographs over the years, show evidence of his aging.

These five photographs span 37 years. The first frame was the same day as the above shot; the next was taken Jan. 19, 1973, when he was introduced as a newly elected Senator to Republican Party faithful.

I have more than a twenty-year gap in pictures. Though I saw and met with the Senator on several occasions, during this time, I was not actively photographing.

The center picture was taken Oct. 9, 1996, while he received the political endorsements from several Albuquerque area police officer organizations. The fourth frame was taken during Heather Wilson’s victory celebration of her special Congressional election, June 23, 1998, to fill the unexpired term of Congressman Steve Schiff who had died in office. The final picture was taken at the Nov. 1, 2006 dedication of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service’s newly consolidated Albuquerque Service Center for Human Capital Management Office.

Upon closer examination of this picture, it seems that the senator hadn’t had a close encounter with his razor for a couple of days. He had a busy day; besides the new building event, he held a press conference, as described in the Dec. 5, 2006, posting, “Can We See Laura?” Domenici also had an orientation flight in the newly operational V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft at the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Domenici’s aide parked the Senator’s vehicle in designated handicap spots. Domenici is not above seeking physical support, especially from Rep. Wilson over curbs and uneven walkways.

So what’s Wrong With This Picture?

Beyond the apparent frailty that is creeping up on him, he is lucid and sharp of wit and has a command of his legislative duties. I leave it to my readers to judge for themselves the state of Domenici’s health and ability to run and serve.

He might not still have the arm to throw, but as I see it, he’s still playing hardball.

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