Thursday, September 14, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 14, 2006

I have to admit I kind of like Gov. Bill Richardson’s latest commercial, the cowboy movie spoof where the governor plays an Old West sheriff.

No, it’s not great drama, and it’s certainly not in the league of Western comedies like Blazing Saddles.

But compared with the 30-second character assassinations that pass for most political advertising in this great nation of ours, Richardson’s horse-opera fantasy is a breath of fresh air.

And those are just the negative ads. Most “positive” political spots are even worse — sickly sweet sentimentality, inane happy-talk, flag-waving drivel ...

And then there was Richardson’s meth-lab ad a few weeks ago that shows apparent ne’er-do-wells cooking what we assume to be drugs in their kitchen while an innocent child plays on the floor with a Tonka toy. Later, we see Richardson marching with a group of uniformed officers.

Then later a bunch of heavily armed cops breaking down a door. In that one, you almost expect the narrator to declare, “Bill Richardson: He cut taxes and brought martial law ... for the children.”

Naw, give me the cowboy movie. In fact, I hope Richardson was serious when at the end of this ad he said: “Next time, let’s make a space movie.” He’d make a great Buzz Lightyear-type character. And how about a faux detective flick with a sultry saxophone soundtrack and the governor in Guy Noir/Nick Danger guise? Maybe a Tarzan parody?

Better yet, a zombie movie in which Richardson has to battle former state auditor candidate Jeff Armijo, who keeps coming back from the dead. (And considering Wednesday’s development in the real-life Armijo saga, this could feature House Speaker Ben Luj├ín as a guest exorcist.)

At this point in the campaign, when Richardson has a wide lead in the polls and an impossible lead in campaign contributions, he can afford to have some fun with his ads. If Republican opponent John Dendahl starts looking like a threat, we can expect that Old West dust to turn to modern-day mud.

Gimme a milk. Probably the funniest gag in the Western commercial is when “Sheriff” Richardson walks into a saloon and, in his best tough-guy voice, orders a milk.

This probably is pure coincidence, but for the record, according to the latest figures from the Institute of Money in State Politics, Richardson has received 14 contributions totaling $27,625 this election cycle from the dairy industry.

In contrast, he’s only picked up $24,125 from beer, wine and liquor interests. These figures are based on campaign finance reports as of the end of May.

Garrey silent on guv race. Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, a Republican, is not publicly backing this year’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, John Dendahl. But Carruthers isn’t publicly opposing Dendahl, either.

On Tuesday, immediately after Carruthers spoke at a news conference with Richardson in the governor’s Cabinet Room, I asked the former chief executive whom he was backing for governor this year.

He declined to answer, saying his ballot is secret.

It’s no secret Carruthers gets along well with the current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion, despite their party differences.

Richardson named him as co-chairman of the blue-ribbon task force that’s studying ethics and campaign reforms. The two taught a class together last year at New Mexico State University, where Carruthers is dean of the business school. Carruthers was in Santa Fe on Tuesday for Richardson’s announcement of a new program in which the top business students at NMSU and The University of New Mexico will manage the investment of $10 million in state money.

While Carruthers made it clear he wanted to keep his opinion of this year’s governor’s race to himself, he added: “I will say, though, I’ve never voted a straight party ticket in my life.”

For my "Ad Watch" analysis piece on the Richardson "Western" spot, CLICK HERE

For my "Ad Watch" analysis piece on the meth lab commercial, mentioned above (plus anoter Richardson ad) , CLICK HERE


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