Thursday, May 10, 2007


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 10, 2007

On Wednesday, I reported on 29 of 33 state Cabinet officials donating nearly $50,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign.

But Cabinet members aren’t the only ones who contributed. The Associated Press already has reported that New Mexico state employees gave the Richardson campaign at least $271,000. That includes the executive branch, the courts and state universities.

More than 40 state employees contributed $2,300, the maximum amount allowed by federal law.

Among those are Lt. Governor Diane Denish (whose husband, Herb, also kicked in $2,300); state budget Director Dannette Burch; Jay Czar, director of the state Mortgage Finance Authority; acting University of New Mexico president David Harris; Hillary Tompkins, chief counsel for the governor’s office; Jim Noel, director of the Judicial Standards Commission (and husband of deputy campaign manager Amanda Cooper); state Racing Commission director Julian Luna; Gary Giron, deputy director of the state Transportation Department; Ricardo Campos, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Transportation Department; Manuel Tijerina, chief of the Risk Management Legal Bureau; and Interstate Stream Commission Director Estevan Lopez.

What about the primary states?: Richardson, according to his report filed with the Federal Election Commission last month, raised almost $2.8 million from nearly 2,000 individuals in New Mexico, nearly half of his reported $6.1 million. This state by far gave him more than any other for his White House quest.

But what about those states that might actually determine the Democratic nominee? According to, a Web site operated by Congressional Quarterly, Richardson isn’t doing that well.

In Iowa, only six people gave him a total of $5,750 as of late March. In New Hampshire, Richardson reported $6,600 from nine individuals. He’s doing slightly better In Nevada, where he got 23 individual contributions totaling just over $32,000. In South Carolina, he picked up just shy of $20,000 from 19 individual contributions.

Richardson is doing better in Florida, which recently threw a monkey wrench into the whole selection process by moving up its primary to Jan. 29 next year (the same day as South Carolina’s). In the Sunshine State, Richardson has collected nearly $195,000 from 186 individual contributions.

However, he’s well behind the top-tier candidate there. Hillary Clinton raised more than $1.8 million, Barak Obama more than $1 million and John Edwards $499,000 from individual Florida contributors.

Musical contributions: There’s one prominent name in music on Richardson’s contributor list that will be familiar to fans of indie rock. Jonathan Poneman, co-founder of the influential Seattle label Sub Pop. Sub Pop gave the world Nirvana, and now Poneman gave the governor two contributions totaling $500.

I bet Richardson didn’t tell Poneman he’s a fan of The Eagles.

Popular Hispanic singer Darren Cordova gave Richardson’s campaign $2,300. It’s already been reported that country music star and New Mexico Music Commission member Randy Travis donated $2,300 to Richardson, as did his wife, Elizabeth, also a music commissioner.

However, there’s no record of any contribution from another celebrity music commissioner: Tony Orlando.

This proves you don’t have to contribute to the campaign to get appointed by the governor to the Music Commission. Some would argue that Orlando’s presence proves you can sometimes get an appointment for no apparent reason at all.

Speaking of the Music Commission: Executive Director Nancy Laflin said Wednesday that the commission has produced a 30-minute television show featuring performances by New Mexico musicians that will air at noon Saturday on KOAT Channel 7.

The pilot for New Mexico Southwest Sounds will feature Latin performer Ramon Bermudez, American Indian flutist Ronald Roybal, the Ben Martinez Project and The Dirty Novels (an Albuquerque band). An upcoming show will feature Tobias Rene, Daybreak Express and Jenny Marlowe.

Laflin said the plan is to produce a weekly show for state musicians.

Funny ads: There’s already been a huge reaction in political Internet circles to two new humorous television commercials the Richardson campaign plans to air in Iowa — and already showing on YouTube. The ads show Richardson at a “job interview” with what appears to be a bored potential employer, who acts disinterested while the governor discusses his lengthy résumé.

Most of the reaction I’ve seen has been positive.

“We’re sure Richardson’s opponents will say the ads are too cute by half and don’t exactly scream ‘presidential,” said Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post on his blog The Fix. “But they cut through the clutter that is surely to come. And the ads are winners in my mind simply because they are different.”

But the funniest reaction was from the blog Wonkette:

“There has never been a presidential campaign ad anything like this one. Every single campaign director and political reporter and media specialist and pollster is currently slumped in their chair, slack-jawed, wondering what it all means. Thank you, Bill Richardson. Thank you for whatever weird path you’ve just put the nation on. It will end in disaster — terrible disaster, for everyone — but it had to happen. It was our destiny.”

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