Tuesday, August 26, 2008


DENVER — There probably were over 100 people who showed up at Gov. Bill Richardson’s swimming pool party at the Crowne Plaza hotel Tuesday night. However nobody went swimming at the party, which was sponsored by the International Association for Firefighters and American Benefits Consulting. And nobody got thrown into the pool, despite lots of jokes floating around about throwing various people in.

One surprise guest who hasn’t been seen around political functions lately — former state Insurance Commissioner Eric Serna.
I didn't get a good one with Eric Serna in it.
Serna retired in 2006 as part of an agreement approved Thursday by the state Public Regulation Commission. As part of the settlement, the PRC dropped its investigation of a controversial contract that Serna signed with Santa Fe-based Century Bank.

Serna spoke briefly with Richardson by the pool. But he was gone before I could speak to him. He didn’t return a phone call Tuesday.

Dave Contarino, Richardson’s former chief of staff who also was at the party, said Tuesday he didn’t know what Serna was talking to Richardson about. “Eric Serna was there?” he asked.

Attorney General Gary King, who was in Denver Tuesday to meet with other Democratic attorneys general, said his office is still investigating Serna.

Serna’s assistant in the Insurance, Joe Ruiz, was convicted this year on 30 felony counts for soliciting bribes in the form of charity donations. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Clinton supports unite behind Obama: Despite nationwide rumblings of Hillary Clinton supporters who say they aren’t yet ready to get behind Barack Obama, three prominent Clinton supporters in the New Mexico delegation said Tuesday they will work hard for the Democratic ticket in spite of the tremendous disappointment they felt when Clinton got out of the race.

But state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D- Dona Ana, labor leader Christine Trujillo and Democratic National Committeewoman Mary Gail Gwaltney agreed that Obama has much work to do if he wants to win the votes of Clinton supporters and Hispanic voters in New Mexico.
Hillary in Espanola last week
The three are in line with Clinton’s major New Mexico supporter Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who has campaigned for Obama since Clinton dropped out.

Garcia said she still intended to vote for Clinton when her name is put into nomination at the convention because she was elected by the party as a Clinton delegate. But she said, “I’ll be going door-to-door asking people to vote for Barack Obama.” But Trujillo and Gwaltney, who both are superdelegates, signed a nominating petition for Obama this week.

Garcia said she first met Clinton during the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign and has been a fan ever since. She also likes Obama, though she said, “He really needs to reach out to the Hispanic voter.”

Trujillo, who is president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor and state president of the American Federation of Teachers, agreed. She said while younger members of her family enthusiastically favor Obama, older family members are having a difficult time accepting Obama.

Like the others, Gwaltney, a Las Cruces resident, said she only began supporting Clinton after Gov. Bill Richardson got out of the presidential race. In the weeks before the February Democratic Caucus she let two Clinton organizers stay in her home.

“I don’t think the press treated her right,” Gwaltney said of Clinton. “Men didn’t treat her right. She was clearly the brightest person to tun besides Gov. Richardson.”

The original version of this identifed Mary Jane Garcia as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor and state president of the American Federation of Teachers. Those positions actually are held by Christine Tujillo. The text has been corrected.

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