By Ned Cantwell
New Mexico was a somber place indeed as her inhabitants focused their gaze on Santa Fe during the legislative session.
Coffee klatch conversations were more tense, less jovial. The pace of life continued, but it was not without a nervous twitter in the air. Much was at stake as our state representatives and senators rolled up their sleeves and waded into a 60-day lawmaking marathon that would have broken the will of less dedicated public servants.
We watched as they took a dive on pay day loans, wrestled with pre-K, bought their governor a fancy plane, wondered whether we should leave unfinished wine on the restaurant table, expanded gambling in the Land of Enchantment.
All of these were hot-button issues, but none galvanized the attention of New Mexicans as did the aborted attempt to ban cockfighting in our state. Those who would outlaw this important way of life in New Mexico came this close to getting their way, this close to forcing their narrow minded, weak-kneed liberal puke views on the rest of us.
However, thanks to our strong, independent lawmakers and a cockfighting lobby that will stop at nothing to preserve this cherished sport of Sunday afternoon bloodshed for the entertainment of rural children, good sense prevailed.
How formidable is this cockfighting bunch? Do our legislators pay them any heed? Just a little. Take note that a Saturday public hearing on a bill to ban cockfighting was rescheduled by the Senate committee to a Tuesday because a cockfighting derby clashed with the Saturday hearing. Not many enjoy such legislative coddling.
As New Mexicans, we can only offer eternal thanks to the cockfighting lobby that refuses to give up the fight, and to our enlightened lawmakers who refuse to allow our state to join the mush brains in places like California, New York, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona and the rest of the nation that has banned cockfighting.
Were it not for our dedicated lawmakers, the only state in the union that allows cockfighting would be Louisiana.
Who can understand why a respected statewide poll by Research and Polling Inc. found that 66 percent of New Mexicans, including 59 percent of Hispanic respondents, want cockfighting banned?
Don’t they know how important this sport is to Hispanic culture? A couple of years ago, a fellow named Arturo Sandoval told the Senate Conservation Committee this: “It’s part of our culture that was acceptable 600 years ago. It’s barbaric … and for anyone to say a majority of Latinos or Hispanos are in favorite of cockfighting is inaccurate.”
What’s up with that guy?
New Mexico is so fortunate to have a Legislature that will totally ignore the wishes of its constituents if the stakes are high enough.
For at least another year, cockfighting continues. But we must be vigilant. We must note the names of those who tried to outlaw it. In the House they include Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and Richard Cheney, R-Farmington. In the Senate: Mary Jane Garcia,, D-Dona Ana, and Steve Komadina, R-Corrales.
Contact these people. Be relentless. Let them have it. Say, “good work, folks. Keep it up. Some day New Mexico will come to her senses.”
Ned Cantwell is a syndicated New Mexico columnist. Contact him at: