Thursday, January 29, 2004

Roundhouse Round-up: Caucus Countdown

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan. 29, 2004

It's only five days until New Mexico's Democratic presidential vote.

Do you know where your candidate is?

Watching CNN after the New Hampshire primary late Tuesday night I almost felt like I was reading New Mexico Magazine's "One of Our 50 is Missing."

The news channel ran reports about the Feb. 3 contests in Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona and even Delaware. But nothing about this Enchanted Land.

Hey! We've got more delegates than Delaware!

New Mexico did get mentioned a few times in the post-primary pundit fest. In most of those instances the talking heads listed us after Arizona as the only states where Howard Dean still has a chance of winning.

Here they come: But all the campaigns insist their candidates haven't forgotten New Mexico.

The only confirmed Santa Fe visit by an actual candidate at this writing is retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who is scheduled to give a speech at the Inn at Loretto at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Last time Clark was in town he lost his voice somewhere between a press conference and an appearance at a food bank.

The general's son, Wesley Clark Jr., will be campaigning in Northern New Mexico this week. He'll be at Taos Pueblo to meet with the governor, the war chief and other tribal officials today at 4 p.m. and at Los Niños Kindergarten in Española 9:30 a.m. Friday.

No word on any Santa Fe visits from newly crowned front-runner John Kerry. But some of his surrogates have Santa Fe on their itineraries. Henry Cisneros, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary and former San Antonio mayor, was in town Thursday for a breakfast with potential Kerry backers in the state Legislature.

And on Friday, Ted Kennedy will be in town to campaign for his fellow Massachusetts senator. I suspect the Kennedy name still has some magic here for longtime Democrats. Retired Judge Art Encinias used to tell stories about going into homes in Rio Arriba County with pictures of three people on their walls -- Jesus Christ, John F. Kennedy and former state Sen. Emilio Naranjo.

Speaking of Naranjo, the state Kerry campaign announced Wednesday that the old Rio Arriba political lion has endorsed the Massachusetts senator.

Kerry said in a phone interview Tuesday that he'd like to make a stop in Santa Fe this week. But that's what they all say. Kerry's only verified New Mexico stops so far are in Albuquerque. On Sunday he'll root for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl at the home of a supporter. The next day he'll appear at a "breakfast town hall" before heading to Arizona.

Other whistlestops: John Edward's wife, Elizabeth Edwards, plans to be in Santa Fe on Sunday for a party hosted by County Commissioner Mike Anaya and Patrice Chavez. Before that, the candidate's spouse will phone bank with volunteers in Santa Fe. Later that night she'll attend a party in Española hosted by Rio Arriba Probate Judge Marlo Martinez.

Edwards himself will be in Albuquerque the day before.

Howard Dean is scheduled for an appearance Friday night in Albuquerque, his state campaign announced Wednesday.

The most fun campaign event before the caucus sounds like an Albuquerque concert for longshot contender Dennis Kucinich.

The show will feature Michelle Shocked and Santa Fe resident (and Dave Matthews Band crony) Tim Reynolds. It's 7:30 p.m. Sunday at The University of New Mexico's Woodward Hall. The candidate also will speak at the show.

Back Door politics: My nomination for the best name for a caucus site is Rick's Back Door in Los Lunas.

Although the name might sound like a good cocktail lounge, according to Brandy Slagel of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, it's just a banquet hall that people rent out.

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