Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Beat: Eight Yesterday, 7 Sunday

Eight more yesterday in Cd. Juarez. One victim was Jesús René Mata, 33, killed at about 5 p.m. in Col. Mil Cumbres. Mata survived the attack and was taken to a hospital where he died. Another man was killed in the parking lot of a convenience store on Paseo Triunfo de la República, one of the major arteries of the city, at about 7:45 p.m. The others were killed in the early morning hours. Seven persons were killed on Sunday.

Rudolfo Torres, Candidate for Governor of Tamaulipas, Murdered Yesterday

Tamaulipas gubernatorial candidate Dr. Rudolfo Torres Cantú, a 46-year old physician, was killed yesterday morning in an ambush as he and his entourage headed for a private meeting in Soto La Marina, near Cd. Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas. After the meeting Torres was to go to the airport to fly to Matamoros for the close of his campaign. The assassins, thought to be members of Los Zeta, who operate mainly in the Gulf region, blocked the road with a dump truck and as the entourage slowed down it was ambushed. Elections will be held as scheduled on Sunday. The PRI will select a replacement candidate today.

Torres' campaign manager, a local state representative, and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack. Four others were wounded. Spent cartridges of 7.62, .223 y 9 mm were found at the scene. Torres was from the PRI party but running as a coalition candidate with other parties, in his case the Green Party and Panal. Of all the gubernatorial candidates in Mexico he was farthest ahead in the polls and his election next Sunday was considered a virtual certainty.

Cesar Duarte Jaquez, who is ahead in the polls for the July 4 gubernatorial election in Chihuahua, lamented the death of Rudolfo Torres Cantú, assassinated in Tamaulipas just a few days before elections. "We know with clarity what (the risks of running for this office) are, and we are prepared to assume them," he said at the close of his campaign yesterday in Cd. Juarez.

Photograph was taken by El Universal

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sen. Papen To Receive Award From NAMI-NM

The New Mexico branch of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) will present Sen. Mary Kay Papen with the 2010 Domenici Family Award at a ceremony on Saturday in Albuquerque. In making the award NAMI cites Sen. Papen's well-known record for enhancing the lives of those living with mental illnesses. "Sen. Papen has taken the suffering she has experienced as the family member of an individual with a mental illness, an turned that suffering into a powerful voice as a community and legislative mental health advocate."

This is a well deserved award. Those who know Sen. Papen are aware of her deep commitment to improving what she terms a "broken system" of assistance for mental illness in New Mexico. At a funeral service two weeks ago (see below, Michael Madrid, RIP), asked to speak to the crowd, she said, among other things, "Michael, the state of New Mexico failed you," referring to the labyrinthine inept patchwork of underfunded institutions that often fail to provide adequate help to persons with mental illnesses or their families.

Senator Papen is one of eight members of a coalition of Democrats who elected Sen. Tim Jennings President Pro Tem of the Senate, with Republican support. With his election a good deal of political power in the Senate has come to reside in Senators from Southern New Mexico, often a neglected area of the state.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Report: Out of Seven Wealthy Countries, US Health Care Quality Worst But Most Expensive

The Commonwealth Fund has released a report (click here) summarizing findings on the quality of U.S. health care compared with that of seven wealthy countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. According to their calculations, in spite of costing more than twice as much as Australia, its nearest cost-competitor among the seven, the U.S. ranks dead last in quality.

The study measures quality along various dimensions: effective care, safe care, coordinated care, patient-centered care, access to care in terms of timeliness and cost-related issues, efficiency, equity, long, healthy and productive lives, and cost. The only measure where the U.S. was even remotely competitive was in the area of patient-centered care and effective care, where the U.S. came in fourth out of seven. Whereas the U.S. spends an estimated $7290 per capita (yes! for every man, woman and child!), Holland (the Netherlands), which ranks first, spends and estimated $3837 per capita and New Zealand, which ranks fifth, spends only $2454 for better health care than the U.S.

The Obama administration last year got Congress to pass a health care bill that did little more than expand Medicaid and force 30 million more people on the rolls, without doing anything about cost containment, perhaps the single most serious problem with our health care. The pharmaceutical and insurance companies in the U.S. were very happy with the bill, having written large portions of it, insuring that their profits would remain fat. If you get sick, by the way, you should get sick in Holland, which ranks first in quality, and costs only $3837 per capita

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ferenc Szasz, RIP

The Albuquerque Journal's Winthrop Quigley reports this morning the death of Ferenc Szasz (usually pronounced "Frank Sazz"), a professor of intellectual and social history at UNM. I did not take a course from him in the early 1970s when I was at UNM, but he was one of the very few professors during those turbulent times that conservative and liberal students turned to for guidance on what were the legitimate possibilities, and limits, of dissent, given the traditions of our American creed. When the National Guard invades a campus and students get bayoneted even the crassest students realized we needed to turn to wisdom to better understand what was happening. Visually, he strode around campus with a rapid gait, often followed by three or four students asking questions after class, looking every bit the crazy professor until you looked at his face, which demanded the respect one accords an intellectual, steeped in history yet able to think for himself and make the past relevant.

My understanding of Northern New Mexico was greatly enhanced when I read a chapter he had written in a book edited by Richard Etulain about fifteen years ago. Szasz correctly identifies a new culture that invaded Northern New Mexico during the 1940s and has been there ever since: the scientific culture spearheaded by the Los Alamos labs. He walks you through changes in the political economy of the North after that, caused by the relatively high salaries earned by Los Alamos workers, who had enough money to buy folkloric art from Hispanic and Native American artisans, and whose purchases created a growing demand which ended up with Santa Fe chic. Cultural interaction between the scientists and locals thus created several feedback loops and had a much stronger effect on the original native cultures than one would have suspected.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Michelito Bullfight Fight in Yucatan is Mediocre

Michelito, the twelve-year old novice matador, fought again in Motul, Yucatan, yesterday, to a half-empty arena. He didn't cut any ears since his kills were not clean, but the review I read indicated he did two fine series of "natural" passes with one of this two bulls. He is ranked number one among novice bullfighters in Mexico, and out of 15 novice fights so far this season he has cut 19 ears and one tail (a fine performance merits one ear, a superb performance merits two ears, and an outstanding performance merits a tail).

"Michelito" Lagravere began fighting bulls at the age of 4 and killed his first bull at age 6. His father is a ranked matador in Spain and his mother is Mexican. To see him in action on YouTube click on the logo to the right of the logo that accompanies the headline, "Michelito in Action," to your right. If you have trouble with this paste the youtube address below.

Michelito will fight on Wednesday in Cancun with full-fledged matadors "El Zotulco" and Manolo Espinosa. On July 17 he will fight in Cd. del Carmen with Federico Pizarro, one of Mexico's finest matadors, and Uriel Moreno,"El Zapata," who used to be very popular in Juarez when they had bullfighting. Between now and August 12 he will fight in 12 different bullrings.


Bloody Father's Day Leaves 12 Dead as the Beat Goes On

Last night at sunset a man was walking with his wife, who was pushing a stroller with a baby in it, and two small daughters, in Col. La Cuesta. Suddendly two men who had been walking in front of them turned around and shot the man in the head. Blood spattered onto his family as he fell, dying. Happy Father's Day.

At about 5:30 p.m. in Col. Nuevo Hipódromo, a man who had converted his home into a hamburger stand was shot and killed when gunmen entered the home and shot him, leaving his body on the floor. About 15 minutes later, in Col. Los Alamos, a man who sold Clamato juice in front of his home was killed as he tried to escape from his house after he heard gunfire when a group of armed men began shooting at his Chevrolet Blazer and into the windows of his home. He was killed in a hail of gunfire.

A man on a motor scooter driving along Juárez-Porvenir highway near San Isidro was shot and killed when gunmen spotted him, chased him down, and shot him.

For story in Diario click here.

All in all twelve persons were executed yesterday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Carlos Monsivais, Popular Mexican Author, Journalist, Dies

Carlos Monsivais died today in Mexico City at the age of 72. He was one of the few true intellectual figures in Mexico who was read by ordinary people, through his column in El Universal and, before that, in La Jornada. His career is difficult to categorize, since he had a wide range of interests he wrote about, including movies, popular Mexican music, poetry, Mexican dialects and vocabulary, politics (he hated Carlos Salinas de Gortari), cartoonists in Mexico, comic books, painters (he wrote a biography of Frieda Kahlo), and the Chiapas rebellion of the EZLN (he was partially sympathetic), to name a few. He seemed to have a knack for analyzing some aspect of politics or culture in just a few paragraphs, from a fresh perspective, and it would suddenly become the conventional wisdom of the urban literate classes in Mexico City. It was considered a distinction to have Monsivais write a prologue to one's book, and he wrote hundreds of them.

Like many intellectuals in Mexico he was deeply influenced by the massacre of students in Mexico City in 1968, and it caused him to begin a long reflection on problems in the Mexican political system. Like the late columnsits Herb Caen in San Francisco and Mike Royko in Chicago, he loved his native city and could write about it and the people in it, with humor and depth.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Mexico Lost 13,500 Jobs in the Last Year: BLS

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released May 2010 state-by-state unemployment figures today, showing New Mexico unemployment last month was 8.4%, down .3% from the 8.7% in April. However, from May 2009 to May 2010 unemployment increased from 6.8% to 8.4%, with a loss of 13,500 jobs. Only Nevada and Mississippi performed worse than New Mexico in the past year, in percentage terms, with unemployment increasing 2.5% and 2.1 percent, respectively.

At 8.4% unemployment New Mexico is just about in the middle of the pack of states, ranking 28th out of 50. It took longer for the recession to catch up to New Mexico than it did in many states. The relative unemployment rate for the next few months will be worth watching, if nothing else because it is an election year, and the state finances, after years of binge spending and then two years of denial of the bad news, are in poor shape and there is talk in many quarters of cuts in jobs in education and other sectors of state government.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Beat Goes On: Twenty Two Yesterday

Six drug addicts were killed yesterday at 11:45 a.m. in front of a seafood restaurant as they waited to get their dose of methadone outside a rehab clinic in Col. Infonavit Ángel Trías. Young men in a red Jeep Cherokee and a red Dodge Durango, of recent vintage, opened fire on the group. One of the victims, Rosa Isela Pineda Téllez, 32, had brought her two-year old son and his father. The boy witnessed his parents' death, but he was uninjured. Then four persons were murdered in an electrical repair shop, "Gael," in Tierra Nueva, and at 10:00 p.m. three persons were murdered together Colinas del Norte as they were leaving a house, when seven vehicles arrived with assassins who began shooting.

Twenty two persons in all were killed on Wednesday. Among the other victims were the bodyguard of the chief custodian of the CERESO prison of Juarez, who died of gunshot wounds that also injured his boss, and Carlos Covarrubias Guzmán, 56, the owner of a funeral home. Funeral homes have been the victims of a great deal of violence in recent months.

For full story in Diario, click here

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment at Record High for Congress: Who is the Incumbent in CD2, Teague or Pearce?

A recent ABC-Washington Post poll shows that only 19 percent of an adult sample of Americans are inclined to vote for their incumbent member of Congress, and all-time low. For the past half century or so, over 90 percent of incumbent members of congress have been re-elected, sometimes going up to 98 percent.

This raises the question: Which candidate in CD2 will be perceived as the incumbent? Both candidates, Harry Teague and Steve Pearce, have held the seat. Teague, of course, is the current incumbent, but he only got elected less than two years ago, and Pearce may actually still be better known, since he served three terms.

You can bet Steve Pearce will label Teague the incumbent and knock him for his voting record and, to the extent President Obama's popularity continues to sink, for his association with Obama. But will Teague also have a chance to go over Pearce's voting record in Congress, when he tended strongly to vote with President Bush?

Which one of the two is a Washington insider? Both? Neither? The trick to winning this election for both candidates lies in being able to define oneself and the other candidate successfully. Right now it may look like Teague is dead meat, but the definitional game hasn't really begun yet and a well-crafted campaign that shows an understanding of the culture(s) of CD could turn things around. My own sense of it is that Pearce is at this time the default candidate, but he hasn't yet made the sale. This is one race that will not be won by the candidate who spends the most money. It will be the one that shows he understands the district better than the other.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obama Approval Rating Reaches New Low: Hispanic Support for Obama Slips, especially among Spanish Speakers

Last week the Gallup Poll showed President Obama down to 46% approval, and 46% disapproval, the lowest numbers since he became President. Among Democrats his approval rating has slipped five points so far this year, from 84% to 79%, and among Republicans from 15% to 12%. Among Hispanics his approval rating is still in positive territory, at 57%, but it has slipped a full 12 points, from 69% at the beginning of the year. Among persons who prefer being interviewed in Spanish, his approval ratings have dropped 21 points this year, from 73% to 52%. The biggest drop among Hispanics, from 73% to 64%, coincided with the State of the Union Address early in the year, when it became obvious Obama had decided not to tackle immigration reform this year. To see more of the Gallup Poll Presidential Approval Center, click here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Harry Teague, Susana Martinez, Steve Pearce, Confirmed to Speak Saturday Evening at Tin Pan Alley Bowling Parking Lot in Las Cruces

Jesus Carrasco, from Mesquite, and a team of volunteers, are hosting the Third Annual Cruzin for St. Jude fundraising event on Saturday, June 12, from noon to 10 p.m. at the Tin Pan Alley Bowling facility parking lot. Several bands will play music, and Roberto's and the Santa Fe Grill are donating food. Candidates from all political parties, who donate to the cause are invited to come and pass out their literature and speak about their campaigns. As of Thursday night Harry Teague, Susana Martinez, and Steve Pearce, had confirmed they will be attending and speaking at the event.

All funds raised at the event will be turned over to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Michael Madrid, R.I.P.

Last night services were held in memory of Michael Madrid, 54, at Graham Funeral Home to a packed audience. Madrid was a member of a prominent and popular local family known for it's wit, close-knit character, and accomplishment.

I was honored by the family with an invitation to say a few words about Michael's participation in a local political group known simply as the Monday Night Group, which Michael belonged to for the entire 19 years of its existence. What follows is a transcript of what I said.

As an original member of the Monday Night Group, Michael Madrid follows Sen. Frank Papen, newspaper report Joe Smith, party activist Tino Valles, and, most recently, social worker John Meyers, in death.

The Monday Night Group's godfather is Dr. Ray Sadler, who is in Santa Fe tonight lecturing to an audience about his book, The Archaeologist Was a Spy. Sadler was county chair of the Democratic party in the late 1970s, and active in party affairs when he began the Monday Night Group in May 1991, with others who were unhappy with the way affairs were managed in the Democratic Party. Somehow, we've always managed to find things wrong with it ever since. Each of us curmudgeons of one sort or another meeting each Monday night to discuss the current pitiful state of affairs in politics. Michael, of course, was no exception. The dictionary definition of curmudgeon is: "anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner." Michael was definitely a curmudgeon.

In the early years Mike was probably the most operationally active of all of us, since he had an advertising firm and helped candidates with their campaigns. He was always chasing around the state helping out his sister Patsy in her campaigns, and he was up to date with changing practices in campaigning, such as the shift to direct mail, the demographics of different radio and television stations, and so on. but he also understood that technique was nothing without good strategy, and good strategy required having a solid knowledge base. This made him a sensitive listener at our meetings, more than a talker, and especially a good asker of questions. I tell my students he true mark of an intellectual is the ability to ask good questions. Instead of posing a question to the whole group, however, he tended to ask the question specifically to someone there, almost always to the right person to ask, and we each secretly hoped he would ask us, because it implied he trusted that person's judgment over that of the rest. This also implied that we all trusted Michael's judgment about who was the best person to ask.

After he got sick he still kept coming to the group, still listened intently, still able to make an insightful contribution to the conversation. His mother worried about his coming, fearing he might say or do something offensive, but he never did. Occasionally he would say something outrageous, like he was going to go to Washington next week to ask Rahm Emmanuel for another hundred thousand dollars to help out Patsy's campaign, but knowing Mike, you didn't know but what that just might be true. And mike certainly wasn't the only one who sometimes said outrageous things in our group, believe me.

Sometimes I was the designated driver to take Mike home, since he couldn't drive. I never minded doing it because Michael always had something intelligent, or sensitive, to say on the way home. The last time i took him home, a few weeks ago, I complained to him Olivia didn't want to put up billboard signs for her election. He said he thought she would do fine anyway, with just some yard signs and a mailout. But he agreed a billboard would be better and I felt vindicated. There was a loving tenderness about him that made him one of the favorites of our group, whether he was healthy or ill, and he will be sorely missed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twelve-Year Old Matador Injured in Debut in Mexico City

Miguel "Michelito" Lagravere, fighting novice-class bulls (below 1100 lbs) in his debut as a matador in Mexico City, succeeded in killing his first bull, but got tossed by his second bull, a 900 lb. beast, and didn't finish the fight. His father is a Spanish matador, Michel Lagravere. Michelito will fight bulls again on June 20 in Montul, Yucatan, an important ring in Mexico.

The bullring in Cd. Juarez was blown up a few years ago to make room for a Walmart so you can't see them there anymore. Progress? I wrote an article on bullfighting in Mexico for an encyclopedia of Mexican Culture a few years ago and got to know something about the bullfighting scene in Juarez at that time. The owner of the bullring also owned the bullring in Tijuana, and I hung out a couple of times at the only bullfight restaurant in Juarez, a place on Constitucion known as El Tragadero (The Trough) where the owner was a true expert on bullfighting.

Twelve years old is exceptionally young for a matador, especially to debut in the biggest bullring in the world, in one of the biggest cities in the world. Guts? You bet!

In 1999 I saw an outstanding bullfight in Juarez by "El Juli," Julián López Escobar, from Madrid, when he was 16 years old. He had his bullfighting debut in Taxcoco, Mexico, at the age of 14 because in Spain professional bullfighting is not allowed until the age of 16. He was fearless, and lightning fast, and he would commit himself to a pass, including his calculation of the closest allowable distance between his body and the horns, a full second earlier than any matador I had ever seen. His style reminded me of those ice-skating champions who pause almost imperceptibly to gather themselves up a split second before a jump and a split second after, providing a kind of visual and temporal parenthesis in the flow of motion, while inside the parenthesis incredibly precise, sculptural movements occur at lightning speed. At one point El Juli was the highest paid matador in the history of bullfighting and he is still one of the top matadors in the world today.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

UN Office to Open in Juarez: Will Follow the "Colombian Model"

For the past two years the violence generated in the drug wars has led to the displacement of countless families, some members of whom have fled to El Paso or other parts of Mexico. And in the Valle de Juarez for several months entire families have been displaced by drug gangs who simply threatened residents with death unless they vacated their homes, threats that have been acted upon in various instances. This has created a pool of displaced persons (the size is still unknown) that has become of object of attention of the International Organization of Migration of the United Nations.

Diario ran a story this morning (click here) announcing the location of an IOM office on the Bridge of the Americas, to help coordinate national government efforts to deal with displaced families.

According to Thomas Lothar Weiss, the chief of mission of the OIM in Mexico, the OIM will follow what they refer to as "the Colombian model," which has been applied by the OIM in various global locations including several cities in Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Congo. In Colombia in the mid-1980s the OIM started various small projects to offer alternative paths for demobilized guerrilla soldiers, including training and education that would facilitate their reinsertion into society after years of guerrilla activity. "The model worked well in Colombia and has been adapted and exported to various countries that are emerging from civil war or high levels of violence," he said.

A quick check of the IOM web site revealed it's 2010 global budget was about $650 million (U.S.) for operational costs and about $49 million in administrative costs. Its mission statement can be seen here.

NALEO Study: Immigrant Bashing Hurts GOP With Hispanics in California

According to a study by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), Hispanic citizens in California began registering in even higher numbers in the Democratic Party or as Independents, disassociating themselves increasingly with the Republican Party after the Republican Party took a decidedly anti-immigrant tone in Congress in 2007, precipitating protests among Hispanics throughout the county.

Among Hispanic voters who registered after the 2006 general election only 16% registered as Republicans,compared with 23% who registered as Republicans between 2002 and 2006. This compares with fully 34% of non-Latino voters who are Republicans. And among Hispanic voters who registered after 2006 56% were Democrats, compared with only 41% on non-Latinos who are registered Democrats.

The California Hispanic population is increasingly important as an electoral bloc. Thirty seven percent of the state's population is Hispanic. But fully 52% of the persons who registered to vote in California after 2006 were Hispanic. So if these trends continue, Republicans will lose a significant market share of overall voters, since non-Latinos show a preference for the Democratic Party as well. Although the NALEO report doesn't comment on it, the recent uproar in Arizona over enforcement of immigration law by local police is unlikely to have helped the GOP among Hispanics in California.

To read the NALEO study click here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Pot is Melting Faster

Few metaphors of immigration are as powerful as the proverbial "melting pot," which likens America to a cauldron that melts different races and ethnicities into one united American soup. The metaphor has often been criticized as being inaccurate, given the stubborn persistence of ethnic and racial identity and inequality.

One way of testing the melting pot hypothesis is to look at intermarriage patterns over time. Clearly, an ethnic group that is increasingly marrying outside the group conforms to the hypothesis. A Pew Research Center study released yesterday sheds some light on recent experience. You can click here for a the results of the study.

One interesting finding: Hispanics have a very high rate of inter-ethnic marriage--one in four--surpassed only by Asians--almost one in three--but the pace of inter-ethnic marriage has not changed since 1980 for either group. On the other hand, the pace of inter-ethnic or inter-racial marriage for all newlyweds has doubled since 1980, from 6.7% in 1980 to 14.6% in 2008. This suggests that other groups are beginning to melt more quickly into the soup but still have a ways to go to catch up to the melting rate of Asians and Hispanics.

Another interesting finding: among Hispanics, both men and women are equally likely to find a non-Hispanic partner (25.5 for men, 25.2 for women). Asian women, however, are much more likely to find a non-Asian partner than Asian men (39.5% for women, 19.5 for men).

New Mexico: Hispanics are very slightly less likely to marry a non-Hispanic than in the rest of the U.S. (22% vs. 25.6% of newlyweds in 2008), but White, non-Hispanics are much more likely to marry outside their own group than their counterparts in the rest of the country (20% in New Mexico compared to 8.9% of newlyweds in 2008).

Question: Does this mean that Anglos in New Mexico are unmelting? Or are they helping the unmelted to melt?

Consistent with other studies, it turns out the likelihood of marrying outside one's own group increases dramatically with more education. So education speeds up the rate of melt. Is there a lesson here?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Martinez-Sanchez Vs. Denish-Colon

Republicans took a hard look at a talented field and selected their strongest candidate for governor, by a landslide. Several firsts here: first female gubernatorial candidate (tied with Democrats), first Spanish-speaking Republican candidate for governor in modern times, first all-Hispanic Gov-Lt. Gov team for either party in modern times. But to their credit these firsts were the almost accidental byproducts of a far more historic decision by Republicans: to join the fray, after a disastrous eight-year monopoly on power by a smug and complacent clique of Democrats, to shoulder responsibility for governing all New Mexicans, not just Republicans, and to become competitive again instead of whining about New Mexico while drooling over Sarah Palin and loving to hate with Rush Limbaugh. These candidates became the nominees because they were the best the Republicans had to offer the voters of the state. For once partisan politics worked well, and Republicans will point proudly to this ticket for many decades to come.

The same cannot be said for the Democratic field, which starts out at a major disadvantage, both candidates having participated freely in the eight-year support system for Uncle Bill's over-sized personal ambitions, public policy be damned. Denish, of course, had no opposition, having locked up the nomination years ago with fund raisers, social favors to party loyalists, and the clique's decision, once Richardson was toast, that she would be anointed. Brian Colon starts out with even more difficulties, since he was handpicked by Richardson to be the point man for the Democratic Party, that is to say, the Richardson Democratic Party of New Mexico.

But don't count them out yet. For one thing, Democrats outnumber Republicans heavily in New Mexico for a reason: Hispanics identify with them more than with Republicans. A Spanish surname doesn't guarantee Hispanics will identify with you, as John Sanchez himself found out eight years ago. And it was an open secret for many years that Diane Denish found Richardson's personal behavior to be repugnant, and that Richardson was keeping her out of the loop. So she has at least a flicker of daylight between herself and Richardson, if she chooses to emphasize it. Finally, Democrats have experience at governing and probably, square inch by square inch, understand New Mexico better than most Republicans. Should Democrats be able to reinvent themselves with a sincere message, based on this deep understanding, voters might prefer them in spite of the albatross around their neck right now. This is especially true if the Republicans tamper with the Martinez campaign, emphasizing national themes or issues that don't resonate with moderate Democrats in New Mexico.

But let's face it. This race is Martinez's to lose and the momentum in New Mexico after years of in-your-face corruption at many levels is with the Republican Party this year. Denish is saddled not only having to explain her own relationships with the previous administration, but also with Colon's and with the serious inattention to corruption in the Attorney General's office and in the legislature, and the lack of courage among Democrats to say NO to Richardson's outrageous excesses, like the welfare check to his Hollywood buddies, which will have cost taxpayers $264 million in the last three years alone during a serious fiscal crisis. Just one little hint last night that Democrats themselves are not happy with party bosses: Ben Lujan, Speaker of the House, eked out a bare victory over his primary opponent by less than 100 votes, in Santa Fe County--you can't be more insider than that. Susana has a lot more elbow room to forge an attractive, plausible case that she should be given a chance to govern the state.