Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Melissa Loves NM Govs

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 1, 2010

Former Gov. Gary Johnson better hope there's no such thing as a "Melissa Etheridge curse."

Johnson is scheduled to appear with singer Etheridge, actor Danny Glover, comedian Hal Sparks and others today at a Hollywood news conference in support of Proposition 19, the California voter initiative to legalize marijuana.

It's not the first time Etheridge has appeared at a public event with a New Mexico governor.

Back in August 2007, Richardson, then running for president, appeared at a candidate forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group active in Democratic politics, and Logo, a gay-oriented cable TV channel run by MTV. Etheridge was a member of the panel questioning the candidates.

She asked Richardson whether he thought people were born homosexual or if it was a choice. He answered, "It's a choice." Etheridge rephrased the question, but the governor again said he thought it was a choice. At one point in the exchange, Richardson said, "I don't like to answer questions like that."

The reaction in the progressive and gay blogospheres was quick and harsh. "What a freakin' moron!" wrote a live-blogger on The Huffington Post that night. "He just lost every semblance of gay support. It is OVER. Take him off the stage. ... I'm done listening to him and so is the rest of LGBT America."
Former Gov. Gary Johnson

Republican Johnson, who was governor from 1995 through 2002, in recent months has been looking more and like someone preparing to run for president — although I noticed that the names of Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty were not on the Proposition 19 news release.

Just be careful if Etheridge starts asking you questions, Gary.

Domenici endorses: The state Republican Party mailed a full-color card to voters around the state featuring former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici giving his full support to GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez.

"For over 30 years, I have fought for our state," reads the text. "I've seen good leaders and bad. Take it from me, Susana Martinez is a person of the highest character and one of the finest leaders I have ever met."

There's a photo on the mailer of Martinez and Domenici, both smiling in front of a New Mexico flag.

It's really not that surprising that Domenici, a Republican who served in Washington, D.C., for 36 years, would endorse the Republican nominee for governor.

It's just that Martinez wasn't his first choice for governor. He originally backed a guy named "Domenici."

It seems like ages ago, but when Pete Domenici Jr. — an Albuquerque lawyer and son of the former senator — made his surprise entry into the GOP gubernatorial contest in January, many assumed him to be the front-runner on name recognition alone.

There were some polls at the time indicating he was in the lead. Which only shows what early polls are worth. Just ask President Rudy Giuliani.

The Domenici 2010 balloon quickly was popped.

At the Republican pre-primary convention in March, Domenici came in dead last with less than 5 percent of the delegate vote. He did only slightly better in the June primary, coming in a distant fourth place out of the five candidates.

On the night of the primary, Domenici the younger was the only governor candidate to show up at the state GOP's watch party in Albuquerque (Martinez celebrated her primary victory in her hometown of Las Cruces). He told reporters then that he would support the Republican ticket.

But so far he's the only one of Martinez's primary rivals to do so, at least in public.