Thursday, November 10, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Nov. 10, 2005

The New Mexico political blogosphere isn’t always kind to Gov. Bill Richardson.

There are web logs by partisan Republicans who routinely rip into Richardson’s policies and proclamations. There are progressive Democratic blogs that aren’t afraid to stand up to the gov when they feel it’s necessary. Unaligned political junkie Joe Monahan is hardly vicious when it come to Richardson, but he normally sees beyond the spin of the governor’s p.r. effort.

Then there’s Santa Fe gadfly John Coventry’s “Fat Bill and Me” blog, an ongoing virtual character assassination.

But beyond the state’s borders there are at least two blogs by people supporting Richardson for president in 2008 that offer nothing but encouraging words for the governor of New Mexico.

And amazingly, both appear to be spontaneous grassroots eruptions, not products of Richardson’s political machine.

There’s The Bill Richardson Blog, run by two law students in two different states — Ian Samuel in New York and Andrea Saenz, in Cambridge, Mass. — and a Richardson blog with an intriguing name — Will the Wolf Survive? by Emmett O’Connell from Olympia, Wash.

In these little corners of blogdom, you’re more likely to read about the governor’s trip to North Korea and his recent book tour and national television appearances than Richardson’s problems appointing a judge in Rio Arriba County or his head-butting with state senators.

Wednesday morning on the BRB, there was a post giving Richardson partial credit for Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine’s victory Tuesday in the Virginia governor’s race.

“Though not about Gov. Richardson directly, I can tell you that he is a happy dude tonight. As the head of the (Democratic Governors Association), tonight’s wins are credits to him, too.”

(Most pundits believe that an even happier dude about that race is Virginia’s outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, who, like Richardson is considering a presidential run in 2008. Though Richardson did go to Virginia to campaign with Kaine, the conventional wisdom is that Kaine’s win will boost Warner. If so, that actually could be at the expense of Richardson.)

According to Saenz, she and Samuels are friends who met through college debate.

Saenz said in a recent e-mail, “I’m not from New Mexico, although my grandfather and his family are, originally, and I’ve visited a couple times.”

“I’m Mexican-American, and my family has been involved to some extent in California politics (my aunt was a state official under Gray Davis), so I’ve been aware of Bill Richardson as a Latino politician to watch for a couple years, though just in a vague sense,” Saenz said.

“I’m married to a moderate Republican,” Saenz said, “so I’m very interested in finding moderate candidates who have great ideas and can move beyond the crazy polarization of the religious right and the radical left that doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.”

Samuels is a native of Pueblo, Colo.

“I had first heard of Bill Richardson during the 2004 election season, when he was floated as a possible VP pick for Kerry (until he withdrew his name from consideration),” he said in an e-mail. “He seemed to have a background that you don’t find much in politics: a Democratic governor of a state that went for Bush, an executive with legislative, administrative, and even foreign policy experience, and a Latino politician who had strong appeal across demographics.”

Samuels says his Rocky Mountain roots guide his politics. “Western politics and politicians are just plain different than elsewhere, and I like the way we do it,” he said.

As for O’Connell’s blog, I’ve heard Richardson called many names, but “The Wolf” isn’t one of them.

O’Connell explained in a recent e-mail that he took the name from the Los Lobos song.

“ ... ever since (John) Kerry chose ‘Beautiful Day’ for his theme music during the primaries last year, I've been thinking about what songs would make better campaign themes. I love U2, and ‘Beautiful Day’ is a great song, but not a decent campaign theme. ‘Will the Wolf Survive,’ on the other hand, would be a particularly good song (especially the line ‘It's the truth that they all look for, Something they must keep alive.’)”

O’Connell, who is an information officer at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, is an active in party politics, being an officer for his local Young Democrats club and an organizer for a Dem discussion group.

Before he created his Richardson blog, “I started a blog at about Western Democrats which eventually was folded into, a group blog.”

O’Connell’s latest Web project also is devoted to Richardson — “America For Richardson,” an “online community” he recently founded with Jeff Gulko of Virginia.

So far this site hasn’t attracted many participants. But the election is still three years off.

Meanwhile, back to the 2006 race: It’s not a blog, but J.R. Damron, a Santa Fe doctor who hopes to be the Republican nominee against Richardson next year has launched a Web site.

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