Thursday, March 23, 2006

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: CONVENTIONS, POLLS

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 23, 2006

So what did Gov. Bill Richardson say to the Democrats after they put him on the state primary ballot Saturday at the their pre-primary convention at Albuquerque’s Highland High School?

Nothing.

While Richardson spoke at the convention that morning, he left for New Hampshire before the delegates voted.

Something tells me there’s going to be more and more of these little anecdotes in the months to come.

Richardson has no primary opposition — in the governor’s race at least. But not everyone at the high school was there to cheer the governor.

A handful of members of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico — an umbrella for nearly 50 Hispanic organizations and labor unions — was there to demonstrate against Richardson.

A press release from the group complained about Richardson’s “abuse of executive power when it comes to vetoing important funding initiatives as a way of punishing legislators who fail to support the governor’s priorities, many of which seem to serve the interests of a limited number of people, including some who aren’t even residents of the state. ... Instead of providing for adequate funding of children and youth programs, for school facility construction and repair, for water projects so desperately needed by countless New Mexico communities, and a minimum wage to help bring vast working populations out of poverty, they chose ... to invest in the pet projects of celebrities and other special interests.”

The planned Southern New Mexico spaceport, proposed by Virgin Galactic’s Sir Richardson Branson, is one such example, said Hispano Round Table president Evangeline Trujillo. “We’re a poor state,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s like a low-income family that chooses to buy a Hummer when their children can’t read and need shoes.”

(Spaceport backers, of course, say the project will bring good jobs to the state.)

The Hispano Round Table also expressed frustration with legislative leaders who are unwilling to challenge Richardson’s vetoes.

“We got a lot of people giving us thumbs up,” Trujillo said. But she admitted other Democrats asked whether it was good publicly to criticize a Democratic governor.

Will the Hispano Round Table back Richardson against his Republican opponent (most likely Dr. J.R. Damron of Santa Fe, who only has a write-in opponent in his primary)?

“Not necessarily,” Trujillo said. “We’re going to be issue-oriented. We’ll align ourselves with the candidate of either party who best addresses our issues.”

Poll sliding : Richardson still has a good popularity rating — especially with Hispanics — in the latest monthly poll by Survey USA and KOB-TV.

According to the poll of 600 adults in the state, taken by telephone between March 10 and 12, 59 percent approved of the job Richardson is doing as governor. That’s down five points from February.

The latest survey found 36 percent disapproved of Richardson’s performance — up from 32 percent last month.

But the poll still shows Richardson doing fairly well with Republicans. Results said 46 percent of GOP respondents approved of Richardson’s performance while 51 percent disapproved.
Richardson got his best ratings from Hispanics, who gave him a 69 percent approval rating (26 percent of Hispanic respondents disapproved of the job he’s doing).

The margin of error is 4 percent. Survey USA conducts monthly polls on governors in all 50 states.

More fun with polls: Survey USA is a scientific poll. I’d hate to be unfair to unscientific polls, so consider the recent Daily Kos poll for 2008 Democratic presidential contenders.

If I were doing spin for the governor, I’d write a press release proclaiming that Richardson tied with conventional-wisdom front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton and finished with twice the numbers of U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Joe Biden and Evan Bayh in the liberal blog’s monthly straw poll.

Only trouble is, Richardson and Clinton each only got a lousy 2 percent in the poll. The big winner was Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who scored 48 percent. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was a distant second at 15 percent followed by ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (11 percent); former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (7 percent) and “No Freakin’ Clue” (4 percent).

Unconventional convention: With Sweeney Center being torn down, where can political parties hold conventions here? If you’re the Green Party, just do it at Java Joe’s. The Rodeo Road coffee house, which has a capacity of about 50 people, is where the Santa Fe County Green Party is holding its convention tonight.

Speaking of parties: Local political activist Agnes Moses — best known as a former president of the Santa Fe branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — turns 80 this weekend.

Seven of her nine children will be in town to eat gumbo and enchiladas at a private celebration Saturday.

Moses has lived in Santa Fe with her husband, Bob, for the past 13 years. She also held offices with the Democratic Women of Santa Fe County.

I worked with her a few years ago in the fight to save KSFR, Santa Fe’s public radio station. Happy birthday, Agnes.

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