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Denver or Bust!

New Mexico Democrats head to the convention of the century (and so do we)

August 19, 2008, 12:00 am

Remember primary season, those 56 primaries, caucuses and prima-caucuses that dominated television for six manic months? There were Hillary Clinton’s tears in New Hampshire, Barack Obama’s guns-and-God deprecation in California, Bill Richardson’s leper-lament to Wolf Blitzer, and John “Son of a Mill Worker” Edwards’ only scandal was a hair-primping blooper set to West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty.” And, oh yeah, weren’t Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Tom Vilsack candidates at some point?

Those were the good ol’ days of presidential politics, when YouTube was rife with gut-busting spoofs and every other day one candidate was calling for shame on another. This week, as the Democratic National Convention unfolds (Aug. 25 to 28 at the Pepsi Center in Denver), the voting public will feel the last aftershock of the primary season. Once there was talk of a smoky, brokered convention, of Hillary’s supporters fighting on the convention floor and scorched-earth tactics aimed at sabotaging Obama’s 2008 bid in exchange for a second chance for Clinton in 2012. Now, however, the dust has settled and the GOP’s secret prayers have gone unanswered: Unity ain’t just a photo-op in New England.

But even without the drama, New Mexico’s 38-member delegation to Denver (excluding alternates, non-voting delegates and pages) is excited for the convention to begin.

Former New Mexico Attorney General and DNC Platform Committee Co-Chairwoman Patricia Madrid’s voice raises a thrilled pitch when she talks about the presumptive nominee, “No Drama” Obama. 

“It’s going to be very historic,” Madrid, a convention veteran, tells SFR. “We’re going to be able to tell our children and grandchildren that we were there when this man was nominated.”

Though New Mexico’s delegate is puny compared to Michigan’s and Florida’s (neither of which were supposed to have any delegates), the state will have one of the strongest voices at the convention. Not only was our governor the fourth most-viable presidential candidate (third, if you apply Edwards’ infidelity retroactively), but he also put everything on the line by going tongue-to-tongue with Ragin’ Cajun James Carville.

Furthermore, Madrid’s position on the Platform Committee is one of the most powerful insider appointments available. Madrid’s and Richardson’s prominence also adds leverage for New Mexico’s other standing committee members, who will have a say in whether Michigan and Florida get full votes and whether Clinton will have a chance to be nominated for the first ballot. Both proposals are now supported by Obama himself, even though only a few months ago, either one had the potential to overturn his nomination.

“I don’t care who you’re talking to, New Mexico is clearly a top-tier swing state,” Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colón says. “I think the role New Mexico will play at the convention is the same as the role they’re going to play in November—one of the most important states on the nominee’s road to the White House.”

And that’s the real thrill of the convention: It will take more than field offices (17 as of mid-August) for Obama to woo New Mexico’s crucial five electoral votes. So, citizens, get your dance cards ready, New Mexico will be among the most popular debutantes at the ball.

Full, live and interactive coverage of SFR at the DNC can be found on our Swing State of Mind blog.

EXTRA: Charting the Democratic "Web of Power"

Also related: Interview with NM Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and the low-down on protesting at the DNC

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