Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Governor Going to New Hampshire

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 14, 2010

The governor's going to New Hampshire next week.
Former Gov. Gary Johnson
No, not that governor. I'm talking about former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He's speaking to the New Hampshire Liberty Caucus on Jan. 23 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, N.H.

In case anyone's forgotten, New Hampshire is home of the nation's first presidential primary.

The event is being billed as an "educational forum." Johnson recently launched a 501(c)(4) political action committee called "Our America: The Gary Johnson Initiative," to raise money to promote Johnson's small-government views.

Johnson, in recent interviews with myself and others, has been coy about the possibility of becoming a presidential candidate.

Remember, though, at this point of the previous election cycle, Gov. Bill Richardson was downplaying the possibility that he would run for president — even when he was getting acquainted with New Hampshire's rubber chicken circuit in 2005.
Something tells me this won't be Johnson's last trip to New Hampshire in the next two years.

Johnson should give his New Hampshire audience some food for thought. But not actual food. "The event will be a reception with a cash bar," the group's Web site says. "Food will not be served, however, we'll be inviting guests to join us at a local restaurant afterward, for further camaraderie and discussion."

Sounds like fun. But not as much fun as Johnson's scheduled appearance Wednesday night at the Marijuana Policy Project Gala in Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency. At that $250-a-plate event, Johnson was expected to share the stage with the comedy team of Cheech & Chong. I bet there's a lot of camaraderie and discussion there, too.

The D.C. trip is "the first of several trips around the country, to engage the public in open dialogue regarding these and other pressing national issues," An Our America news release said Wednesday. Johnson's also traveling to Phoenix on behalf of his PAC on Jan. 27 and Los Angeles on Feb. 2.

Coalition of the Ruling: State Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, used the "C word" at a public forum last week. Speaking at a legislative town hall at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, Wirth noted that it's difficult to pass progressive legislation because the Senate is ruled by a coalition (emphasis mine) of Republicans and conservative Democrats.

That's true, of course. It's just that in recent years, the word coalition has taken negative connotations. When Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, won the post of Senate president pro-tem with the help of seven other conservative Dems and all 15 Republicans, he bristled at the word, which, he said, "means a lot of different things to a lot of different people." True to his word, Jennings didn't appoint any Republicans as committee chairmen.

Back in 2001, then-Sen. Shannon Robinson frequently railed against the three Democrats who teamed up with Republicans to oust then-Senate President pro-tem Manny Aragon. He used the word to castigate his opponents.

The negative connotations probably go back to the late '80s when Aragon and Republican Sen. Les Houston formed a coalition that led to Aragon seizing the president pro-tem post, which he held for more than a decade.

E-mail subject line of the week: "Governor Richardson to Receive Golden Gloves for Protecting Otero Mesa from Boxer Holly Holm." That was on a news release from Richardson's office Tuesday.

Hopefully, Ms. Holm has stopped being a threat to Otero Mesa.