Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Running Shoes or Plodding on?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I am more convinced that a saying I like to describe New Mexico politically is truer than ever. “New Mexico; where Democrats act like Republicans and Republicans act like Democrats!”

Democratic State Senator Carlos Cisneros, left, of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos Counties was poised to run for the top Senate job, against Sen. Timothy Jennings, of Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero.

Though Cisneros had on his running shoes and had the backing of the majority of Democratic Senate caucus members, eight crossed over to join all 15 Republicans in reelecting Jennings President Pro Tempore.

The eight Democratic Senators were: Jennings, Linda Lopez, of Bernaillo County, Lynda Lovejoy, Bernaillo, Cibola, Mc Kinley, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties, Howie Morales, of Catron, Grant and Socorro Counties, George Munoz, of Cibola and McKinley Counties, Mary Kay Papen, of Dona Ana County, John Sapien of Sandoval County, and John Arthur Smith, of Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra Counties.

So what’s Wrong With This Picture?

There was a supposed shift in the Progressive Democratic wing of the Party when Republicans lost three seats and a “new breed” soundly defeated some incumbents.

Many Democrats were angry at Jennings, above, for what they saw as crossing Party lines to endorse Republican Senate Minority Whip, Leonard Rawson, of Dona Ana and Sierra counties.

The Party line was that it was all Party. Former NM Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim, right, took the position that Jennings made an endorsement for Rawson against Party interests.

Blogger Matthew Reichbach on his, New Mexico FBIHOP, site posted the text of the Jennings radio spot:

JENNINGS: I'm Senator Tim Jennings, a Democrat from Chavez, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero Counties. And the elected Pro Tem of the New Mexico state Senate. The Pro Tem ensures that the Senate is run in a fair, efficient manner, and he must work closely with other leaders in the New Mexico Senate, such as Senate Minority Whip Leonard Lee Rawson. While Senator Rawson and I are from different parties and can disagree politically, I must take a stand against the incorrect character assassinations that are being lodged against Senator Rawson. The accusations against him are unproved and unfair.

RAWSON: I'm Leonard Lee Rawson and I approve this message.
Jennings took the position that Rawson, right, was attacked with lies as a sitting Senator, and that as leader of the Senate, he had a responsibility to defend the institution.

Wertheim’s examples of other attacks that he thought Jennings should have commented on were beyond the narrow position of protecting the Senate.

The best analysis of the infighting, I found, came from Professor Jose Garcia’s “La Politica: New Mexico! La Voz del Valle del Sur”

Rawson lost to Stephen Fischmann.

Republicans elected William Payne, right, Bernallilo County, Senate Minority Whip.

Despite the numeric imbalance between the Democrats and Republicans, the leadership tends to mirror the actual sense of the feelings of New Mexicans, stripped of the political cloth – moderate to mildly conservative. The Republicans will go along to assure that the more liberal wings of the Democratic Party, especially the Progressives, do not take control.

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