Thursday, December 08, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: ORDERED BY GOD

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Dec. 8, 2005



Gov. Bill Richardson was the interview subject in this week’s “10 Questions” section of Time magazine. He talked about immigration, his book, his meetings with famous dictators, etc.
And he also spoke a little bit about theology, specifically the divine right of early primary states.

“Nobody should tamper with Iowa and New Hampshire being the initial primaries or caucuses,” Richardson told Time. “That's God given and party given.”

This is even stronger than what he told people in New Hampshire last summer at a political breakfast. There, Richardson said that having the first primary in the nation is “your birthright.” But he didn’t mention God by name.

Even so, a Democratic National Committee panel is apparently trying to mess with God’s plan.

The 40-member commission is considering a plan that would add a Western and a Southern state to the January primary calendar.

“The four Western states under consideration are Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada as well as Colorado,” Rocky Mountain News columnist Peter Blake wrote Wednesday. “But Mike Stratton, a Colorado political strategist who's on the commission, conceded Nevada is the likely choice.”

Stratton, by the way, was working for Richardson during the governor’s visit to New Hampshire last June.

But a Nov. 30 story in the Manchester Union Leader quotes New Hampshire’s secretary of state William Gardner saying he will move up the New Hampshire primary if the Democrats adopt the proposed primary plan. And state law allows him to do it.

Truly he is a man of God.

Meanwhile, Richardson still is pushing for a regional primary — which would include this state, Arizona, Utah and possibly others — for Feb. 5, 2008.

For the record, God didn’t create the New Hampshire primary until 1913. Actually, according to the New Hampshire Political Library’s the Web site, it was a body called “The General Court” that created the primary. The first primary actually wasn’t held until 1916.

But New Hampshire didn’t become the first-in-the-nation primary until 1920, when the state of Minnesota decided to drop its primary and Indiana moved its primary back to May. I’m not sure what happened here.

Did God also create the Minnesota and Indiana primaries and decide He had made a mistake?

Or were those primaries the work of Satan?

At first New Hampshire primary voters elected delegates to the national political conventions. It wasn’t until 1952 that God decided the names of the presidential candidates themselves should be on the ballot.

God didn’t get the January Iowa caucuses going until 1972. (A history of the caucuses by The Des Moines Register also gives former Iowa Gov. Harold Hughes some of the credit.)

Baseball blues: The subject of Richardson’s professional baseball “career” was bound to come up in the Time interview.

After all, last week in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Tom Ruprecht, a writer for Late Show with David Letterman poked wicked fun at the governor’s recent discovery that he actually had not been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the 1960s.

Ruprecht’s story, headlined “Field of Hallucinations,” started out, “Yes, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico had to embark on an exhaustive fact-finding mission to determine whether or not he was ever a major-league baseball player. (And we wonder why nothing gets done in government.)”

In the Time interview, Richardson, apparently decided that a good defense is a bad pun.

“I had been told by various scouts that I would be drafted if I signed,” he told reporter Karen Tumulty. “When it appeared in the official program of my team that I had been drafted, I assumed it was correct. However, the mistake was mine. I should have checked. Obviously, it's become a little bit of an instance where I dropped the ball. Get it, Karen?”

“I get it, I get it,” Tumulty replied.

“Get that?” Richardson continued. “Dropped the ball?”

Flattery will get you nowhere: State Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, who according to the Roundhouse rumor mill was considering a run for state attorney general or treasurer, announced last week that he would instead seek a fourth term in the House of Representatives.

“While I am flattered by the support I have received to run for higher office, I believe the best way I can serve the people of New Mexico is to remain in the Legislature,” Park said in a news release.

How come I get the feeling that if he’d been flattered with more support, he might have been making a different announcement?

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