Thursday, February 07, 2008

The New Mexico Disaster

The most underreported story of Super Tuesday is the New Mexico disaster. Basically, the Democrats didn't print nearly enough ballots for their caucus that Bill Richardson created. One friend of mine in Albuquerque was given a photocopied ballot and was told that they had no idea if it would count. There were huge delays and people left the polls because the lines were so long Rio Rancho, the third largest city in the state, had one precinct open. Three boxes in Rio Arriba County were held overnight in people's homes. The party claims they had no idea so many people would turn out and vote. All they had to do is look around at turnout throughout the country to know that they would face the same thing. It's this laughable: they were expecting 40,000 voters. They got 131,573 voters. Whoops!

Bill Richardson is distancing himself from this
, but that's not acceptable. First of all, moving the caucus up was his idea. The entire thing was his baby. But he didn't prepare the state for it at all and didn't fund the process. It's another example of Richardson's pretty poor governing style that makes me happy he did not win the nomination. Richardson is blaming Brian Colón, the new Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman. I don't know much about Colón, but people I respect think highly of him. Within the nepotistic and corrupt politics of New Mexico, breaths of fresh air are not welcomed. This doesn't look good for him, but certainly Richardson and other leading Democrats deserve plenty of blame as well. It also seems that Richardson's presidential campaign took priority and the state party is suffering as a result, leading to the underfunding and understaffing of the caucus. This is the second big screw-up with national implications Richardson has had as governor. The first was his poor campaigning for John Kerry in 2004 which led to small turnouts in the Hispanic population in northern New Mexico and Bush winning the state.

The caucus is not the ultimate issue here. The problem is that this incompetency is going to carry over to the election this fall. I love New Mexico, but it's a disaster. If New Mexico is tight this fall, as it was in 2000 and 2004, very careful oversight is going to be needed. The Republicans stole the election in Florida. It is hardly inconceivable that the election could be stolen in New Mexico this time around.

Maggie has some great thoughts (here and here) about this disaster as well.