Thursday, November 15, 2007


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 15, 2007

Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez managed to get all the way through his “online town hall” this week without mentioning his U.S. Senate Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, but Chávez in recent days hasn’t been shy about bashing Udall in national media interviews.

Meanwhile, though state Republicans have chastised Udall for being the favorite of “out-of-state liberal bloggers,” it’s Chávez, not Heather Wilson or Steve Pearce, who has felt the sting of at least one pro-Udall blogger from outside this enchanted land.

In an interview Saturday with Politico, a political Web site, Chávez referred to Udall’s “lackluster record in the House.”

“The race is about only one thing,” Chávez said, “(the) fact that Washington has failed to deliver for New Mexico. I’m the only candidate with a record of strong leadership on getting things done. … There will certainly be a contrast.”

This is similar to what Chávez told Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication, last week. “This will not be a sweet primary. It just won’t,” he said. “The contrast in records between me and the Congressman won’t situate him well for the general election.”

The mild-mannered Udall has yet to fire back. (And, technically, he hasn’t formally announced yet.) But some of his defenders in the blogosphere certainly have.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the popular left-wing Daily Kos, fired with both barrels Monday. “Everyone wants Chávez out of the primary, suggesting he run for one of the House seats opened up by this Senate race,” Zúniga said. “Me, I’d rather see Chávez’ career destroyed by Udall in this primary once and for all. The last thing we need is his corrupt ass in Washington in the House, stinking up the Democratic brand and making Latinos look bad.

“So I hope he’s stupid enough to stay in the Senate race. I’ll have fun seeing him go down in flames.”

Chávez is right about at least one thing. It’s not going to be a sweet primary.

Chat room chatter: Those who watched and participated in Chávez’s Web chat seemed to enjoy it. A few reported technical difficulties. My feed only froze up completely once, though there were a few stray moments where the sound faded momentarily.

My biggest distraction was trying to listen to Chávez while keeping an eye on the chaotic but often entertaining chat room buzz to the side of the video screen, reproduced here as it appeared on the screen.

“Why does Texas buy water from NM? Now thats the question … ” one participant wrote.

“Texans are a very thirsty people … ” another replied.

“so are we,” said a third chatter.

“maybe texans will pay your ticket?” quipped on participant, referring to an earlier post from someone sarcastically asking Chávez to pay his $300 ticket from one of the controversial red-light cameras in Albuquerque.

I might have been following such an exchange when Chávez apparently made a veiled reference to a controversial Udall vote to reduce the budgets of the national laboratories in the state. I didn’t catch it, but the chatters picked it up.

“Note the shot at Udall,” a participant wrote. “ ‘who would have thought’ any member of congress would vote to cut lab funding …”

“udall voted to cut lab funding?” another chatter responded.


“dang what was he thinking???”

Even though it’s distracting, I hope Chávez keeps the chat room in his future town halls, and other candidates, who are bound to pick up on this idea, keep it too.

Yippie yi yay!: I was beginning to think the state had forgotten about the memorial sponsored by Rep. Gloria Vaughn, R-Alamogordo, to hold an official state cowboy song competition. But no, the cowboys won’t be forgotten.

A news release from the state Music Commission said the competition officially kicks off tonight during the opening ceremonies of the Western Music Association’s International Festival in Albuquerque at the Marriott hotel on Louisiana N.E. near Interstate 40.

Those wanting to enter a cowboy song for consideration should send compact discs or tapes, along with proof of copyright, to the New Mexico Music Commission, P.O. Box 1450, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

The entry deadline is Nov. 14, 2008. The commission will announce the winner in December 2008. The winning song will be submitted for a final showdown at the state Legislature in January 2009.

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