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Here We Go Again

First, I’d like to thank State Land Commissioner candidate, Jim Baca, for putting my mind at ease by confirming that he is indeed a race card playing politician. In our state a non-Hispanic candidate has to weigh his words very carefully or else some ethically challenged Hispanic candidate is going to go on the attack and accuse him or her of being a racist.

John Dendahl criticized the state’s lack of progress in fixing the DWI problem under Governor Bill Richardson’s administration. Granted, Dendahl may not have stated his case in the most politically sensitive manner, but to flip his argument and try to turn him into a racist is absurd. After all, this was the guy who was Hispanic John Sanchez’ biggest champion in 2002 to the detriment of some Anglos’ gubernatorial aspirations.

Baca is not alone in his absurd accusations. This from the Albuquerque Tribune:

Gov. Bill Richardson’s campaign lashed out at Dendahl on Friday, saying the words should be a “red flag” to Republican voters.

“Unfortunately, John Dendahl has a history of sticking his foot into his mouth by making insensitive comments and alienating whole classes of people,” said Dave Contarino, chairman of the governor’s re-election campaign.

You’ve got to be kidding me. How in the world could the chairman of the governor’s re-election campaign feel he is on firm ground bandying about accusations of insensitive comments and alienating remarks. Bill Richardson’s latest radio ad attacked Dendahl in the following manner:

A secret meeting… the order is delivered… and the political candidate quietly goes away. Is it the Third World? The Middle East? Eastern Europe? No – it’s the New Mexico Republican Party Central Committee and John Dendahl.

Talk about insensitive comments. Governor Richardson and his advisors take some of the biggest world concerns and minimize them by turning them into campaign fodder. Well, I guess that’s easier than dealing with the facts.

Instead of trying to turn John Dendahl’s comments into a race issue, Contarino and Baca could have responded to them by pointing out the Governor’s accomplishments in fighting the DWI problem in our state. But then again, they’d probably have a hard time explaining recent stories like this:

The dismissal of several recent drunken-driving cases in Metropolitan Court mirrors a decade-old problem in the state’s busiest halls of justice – DWI charges being thrown out before they make it to trial.

Of the 104 motorists arrested in the first four days of a holiday blitz in November, 25 of the cases have been dismissed, according to court records. Forty-six cases have ended in convictions and 29 are pending.

Hmm, I guess it’s kind of hard to defend Governor Richardson’s record of accomplishments when the dismissal of drunken-driving cases mirrors a decade-old problem. Yeah, definitely easier to reframe the debate from the lack of progress made by the administration, so it focuses discussion as to whether or not John Dendahl is a racist – even if everyone knows that’s a ridiculous assertion.