Politicians present seedy showdowns

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist

Political junkies anticipate October of election year with the same fervor a Cowboy nut paints his face blue when Dallas makes it to the Super Bowl.

Political nastiness is endemic to the nation, but it doesn’t get much better than the eye gouging and ankle kicking of New Mexico politics at its best. Or, maybe, its worst.

Patricia Madrid’s mud wrestling match with 1st District incumbent Heather Wilson is the marquee event this year. On the under card is the tussle between Jim Baca and Pat Lyons, but these two are almost semi-civil to one another as they campaign for state land commissioner. Incumbent Lyons has the support of the oil and gas industry, which may or may not be good for the rest of us. Baca has the support of environmentalists, which may or may not be good for the rest of us.

Other races are yawners. The polls have Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and Congressmen Steve Pearce and Tom Udall waltzing back into office. In another statewide race, Democrat Gary King seems destined to become the attorney general.

The margin between Wilson and Madrid, though, is razor thin. And as election day nears, the polemics erupt.

These two embarrassed themselves by skirting ethical boundaries with thinly disguised political mailings masquerading as constituent educational pieces, printed and mailed with taxpayer dollars. Shameful. But as the catfight intensifies that’s tame stuff.

The Madrid staff was pacing the floors looking for a gut shot that would finish Wilson when former Rep. Mark Foley dropped into their laps. Foley is the former congressman from Florida who sent sexually explicit e-mails to congressional pages.

Madrid, currently serving as New Mexico Attorney General, decided Heather is somehow complicit in the Foley case. Given the political scandal that happened on her watch, it is a bit of a stretch for Madrid to be accusing others of being asleep at the wheel, Even absent that conjecture, she comes to court here with an empty briefcase.

Madrid contends that Wilson was one of three House members serving on the Page Board from 2001 to 2004 and “didn’t do her job.” It is not clear to this writer how Wilson was supposed to have determined Foley had the hots for young boys, and Wilson herself takes the position that the Page Board was a rather informal group that met infrequently to handle routine matters.

The Board does not appear to be an entity designed to lurk in the shadows watching the doors of congressional bedrooms, but maybe so. We report, you puke.

Meanwhile, with volcanic political eruptions littering the landscape in the state over which he presides, Gov. Bill Richardson amazingly stays pretty much above the fray despite being opposed by reputed vicious hit man, Republican John Dendahl. Here is one of John’s most recent zingers:

“I think Bill Richardson has used New Mexico like a frog uses a lily pad to get from here to there on the other side of a big pond he wants to get across.”

Ouch! Stop that, you meanie!

Perhaps it is no surprise Big Bill, smiling like he just latched onto a shipment of Super Sized Snickers Bars, was the cover boy for American Profile Magazine, a feel-good weekly distributed by hundreds of newspapers. The writer asked the guv no tough questions but did unearth an intriguing tidbit:: Bill Richardson dreams in English.

The question is, what does Bill Richardson’s dream about? Maybe, La Casa Blanca?

Columnist Ned Cantwell dreams in Technicolor. Contact him at: cantwell@charter.net