Thursday, November 09, 2006

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: A NEW DEMOCRAT

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 10, 2006


I saw the hair and the mustache across the crowded ballroom.

There among the giddy Democrats celebrating at the Hotel Albuquerque Old Town, was Bob Schwartz, former district attorney in Bernalillo County and, for a few months this year, a candidate in the Republican primary for state attorney general.

Just to be a wise guy, I asked him, “So are you a Democrat now, Bob?”

His answer surprised me. “Yes, I sure am.”

Schwartz, who took a lot of lumps from Republicans for accepting a job as Gov. Bill Richardson’s crime adviser during the first three years of the governor’s first term, said it was unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate John Dendahl who finally drove him from the GOP.

Specifically, he said, it was the day last June when J.R. Damron, who had been the party’s nominee for governor, stepped down and was replaced on the ticket by Dendahl. Some Democrats accused Dendahl of engineering Damron’s exit. Both Damron and Dendahl have denied it.

“I read that in the Sunday paper, and the next day I went down and changed my affiliation,” Schwartz said.

Dendahl and Schwartz go way back.

When Schwartz ran for mayor of Albuquerque in 2001, losing to Democrat Martin Chávez, the Republican establishment backed another candidate, Mike McEntee. At that time, Dendahl was state GOP chairman.

When Schwartz announced his candidacy late last year, Dendahl said: “Bob Schwartz is not regarded by many rank-and-file Republicans as a Republican. Especially since serving for three years at the feet of The Emperor.” You can guess who The Emperor he referred to was.

Dendahl said he’d rather vote for a Democrat than Schwartz.

When the state GOP had its pre-primary convention this year, Schwartz didn’t have enough votes to get on the primary ballot.

During the campaign, Schwartz was part of Democrat Attorney General-elect Gary King’s Truth Squad, which answered attacks from Republican AG candidate Jim Bibb.

Asked whether he might end up with a job in King’s office, Schwartz said, “We haven’t discussed that.”

Nice guys finish last?: Re-elected U.S. Rep Tom Udall was feeling magnanimous at the party Tuesday night.


In an interview, he praised his Republican opponent, Ron Dolin, for running a clean and positive campaign. “He refrained from personal attacks in all our joint appearances,” Udall said.

Of course, a cynic could argue the clean and positive campaign didn’t do Dolin any good. Udall trounced the underfunded political unknown by a 3-to-1 margin.

But in fairness, Udall is a “nice guy” also.

Pat the Cable Guy: The Republicans clearly didn’t have as much fun as the Democrats on Tuesday night.

My colleague, David Miles — who was covering the GOP — reported it wasn’t all gloom and doom over at the Marriott Pyramid North in Albuquerque.

The only statewide Republican to win Tuesday was incumbent Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons.

When Lyons took the stage to declare victory, someone in the audience, using his best Larry-the-Cable-Guy imitation, yelled, “Get ’er done!”

Not missing a beat, Lyons — who kind of talks like Larry, anyway — responded, “We got ’er done!”

Tuesday, by the way, was Lyons’ 53rd birthday.

I’m guessing it was a happy one.

World Wide Weak: Here’s something both Democrats and Republicans can agree upon.

The most useless political tool in New Mexico has to be the secretary of state’s Web site.
For months, reporters, campaign staffers and interested citizens have complained about the campaign finance reports posted on that site.

Most of the reports are not in a format that can be searched. So if you want to know whether, say, Charlie Manson contributed to any of the candidates, you have to go through each report page by page.

Complaints have also surfaced throughout the election cycle about how long it takes to get reports posted to the Web site.

This problem grew into a crisis by the last reporting deadline, Nov. 2.

By the end of that day, the reports of only two statewide candidates — gubernatorial candidates Richardson and Dendahl — were posted on the site.

As a matter of fact, nearly a week past that deadline — the day after the election — those still are the only reports of statewide candidates there.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the site had only the reports of the two gubernatorial candidates, eight legislative candidates, a judicial candidate, a Public Regulation Commission candidate and a handful of county candidates.

No, I didn’t call the Secretary of State’s Office to find out the reason for this. At this point, I don’t want to hear the office’s excuses.

Someone should take the software used for this site back to Toys “R” Us and demand a refund.

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