Monday, July 24, 2006

Sweating For Patsy Down In The Valley

Yesterday, I ventured up the bumpy construction on Isleta Blvd. to attend the opening gala for the Patricia Madrid for Congress "South Valley Office". My fortuitous timing (arriving an hour late) meant that I missed the speeches, but still had access to plenty of free hotdogs and tortilla chips.

The Isleta curve was a happening place yesterday afternoon, Madrid's event kitty-corner sandwiched between a very well attended Colombian Independence Day celebration across the street at the Westside Community Center, and mere feet away from a Sunday afternoon meeting of a small but rowdy Apostolic church at the adjoining strip mall. The main advantage the Colombian and Apostolic events had over Madrid was the fact they were held INDOORS, while we Madrid supporters stood right on the parking lot blacktop. Heat and high humidity (for ABQ) quickly led to that creepy feeling when the sweat starts trekking down your back while you try to suavely discuss the potential impact of the negative Heather Wilson ads.

I'm bad at guessing crowd size, but I'd reckon about 100 folks were stuffed into the small parking lot when I first showed up. Despite the sweat running down everyone's back folks seemed in good spirits, if for no other reason than a politician was actually paying attention to the South Valley (SV). More about that later. Jim Baca was there to provide some support while grabbing at Patsy's political coattails, as was either Mary Herrera's mother or direct hairstyle clone (slightly more aged variant).

I'm sorry to keep focusing on Herrera's hair given the gravity of the whole "paper ballots" thing in the Secretary of State race, but I can't help myself. In fact, I have about twenty comments I'd like to make about that hair right this second, but will resist the formidable urge as best I can.

Anyway, I did get the chance to meet AG Madrid. As is invariably the case in such situations, I could think of absolutely nothing to say. Meeting people and small talk are not my favorite activities and when combined with knowledge that the person you are meeting is doing this exact "shake hands, smile vacuously" thing with approximately one million people in the space of six months you just kinda stand there. I stood there. AG Madrid was nice and talked about her attendance at a public meeting at the Jewish Community Center on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. I nodded alot. I stood there.

Madrid then went off to the next of her one million "shake hands, smile vacuously" visits (a torture that must surely be of a mythological level on par with Sisyphus forever rolling rocks uphill), and I wasted the chance to tell Patsy a little story.

For the greater part of Campaign '04 your humble blogger remained politically inert. Then in a fit of guilt and authentic desire to get involved (mostly guilt) I signed up for some canvassing. As a South Valley resident, I told the Kerry campaign I wanted to canvas my adjoining neighborhoods. My canvassing friend (equally guilt-ridden) and I were told that the "South Valley Office" for Kerry, and by extension Richard Romero, was located on Yale Blvd, just north of Gibson.

Let me repeat that. The "South Valley Office" was located at Yale and Gibson. Here's a map to show you the location.

courtesy Mappoint (thanks Bill!)

Note that this office was East of I-25. Way the Hell removed from the South Valley. To be honest, the "South Valley Office" was a misnomer...the campaign didn't have a "South Valley Office". It just considered everything south of Nob Hill to be "South". A small thing, but one that perhaps shows which part of the ass Democratic campaigns often seem to have their collective, Hyrdra-like, head(s).

Interestingly, my friend and I took a pile of South Valley addresses from "Canvas Central" on Yale & Gibson and walked a few neighborhoods in the mid-South Valley. The real South Valley, far from I-25 and the Airport. We had some very nice chats, our knuckles got sore from knocking on doors, and our political action guilt was slightly assuaged. Along the way we heard two main themes:
  1. Everybody we talked to was voting for Kerry.
  2. Many Kerry voters were NOT going to vote for Richard Romero and would instead vote for Heather Wilson.

I won't go into many of the reasons why these SV voters were anti-Romero (he is, thankfully, water under the U.S. House #1 bridge), but my friend and I were certainly surprised. We also noted that Romero REALLY needed to do some leg work in the SV, something you wouldn't think would be necessary in a heavily Democratic area (not to mention the whole "Hispanic surname thing"...which we are never supposed to mention).

So now, standing on blazing hot blacktop along Isleta Blvd on a Sunday afternoon what I wanted to tell Patsy Madrid was:

  1. I'm glad you're not Richard Romero (or John Kelly, or Phil Maloof for that matter)
  2. Starting up a real bona-fide "South Valley Office" is a really smart idea.
Now don't get the idea that I'm an unabashed Patsy lover now. I have serious doubts about her chance of winning (Wilson's incumbency, war chest, "nice person" image, etc.). In fact, I have at present wagered two six-packs of beer picking Wilson to win (a wager open to Burque Babble readers as well, that is if it's legal to bet six-packs of beer via blogs). Speaking of personal politics, Madrid isn't my dream candidate (unfortunately Paul Wellstone is dead, and besides he lived in Minnesota). Still, I gotta hand it to the Madrid campaign for understanding the South Valley enough to know it NEEDS a "South Valley Office".

We're a quirky (no, not Querque as in "offbeat" name for Albuquerque) bunch down here. Of the 100 or so folks I saw in attendance for the Madrid shindig, a serious half to three-quarters of us did not look "normal". To be honest, the crowd at the event looked like it would have been just as comfortable at a UFO convention and/or Apostolic Church meeting. And, having lived here for six years now I can say that description fits well over half of the entire SV population.

And Patsy is gonna need well over half of the SV vote if she's gonna win in November and force me to fork over several six-packs to my more optimistic friends. It's a wager I'd love to lose, and having a "South Valley Office" makes it just a little bit more possible that I'll have to pay up come early November.

P.S.: A bit of provocation from Heather Wilson's latest mailing on the subject of "Keeping Our Families Safe": "Evil people have used our freedom and open way of life to kill us." Discuss amongst yourselves, cite examples, show your work....


Inquiring Mind said...

Excellent report. One thing you should know about Richard Romero and the South Valley is that he was disliked very much by the bloc that supported Manny Aragon for decades. Manny represented a South Valley district for many years and was viewed as a champion for the area and minorities in general.

When Romero was in the NM Senate, he joined with Republicans (and a couple Dems) to oust Manny as the Senate President Pro-Tem in 2001 and get himself elected to the post. That's why so many told you vehemently that they wouldn't vote for him. He was viewed as a turncoat who cut the power of their NM Senator.

Madrid is another story and is on good terms with South Valley Dems. That's why it's expected she'll get a large turnout there to vote for her, which is why Heather's so frightened and is highlighting the issue that many Hispanic members of the military/guard, especially males, support her. You'll notice she's hugging lots of Hispanic men/vets in her initial ad.

Maggie said...

Great post, as always!

LP said...

Now you made me feel guilty for not being there Sunday...