Inside the Capitol

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5-24 Is Reagan Republicanism Still OK?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Is being a Reagan Republican an advantage or disadvantage in the GOP primaries of today? Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen Weh is about to find out.
In one of Weh's latest ads, he proudly states he is a Reagan Republican which he says means he has the can-do spirit that is needed to guide this state out of its current troubles.
But in an ad by chief opponent Susana Martinez, he is attacked for supporting amnesty because he backed the proposed immigration reform advocated by former President George W. Bush.
Weh says he opposes amnesty and always has. He supported President Bush's immigration reform plan because it provided for a guest worker program that was crucial to our economy.
The Bush proposal did not contain an amnesty provision. It involved a pathway to citizenship that contained many steps. The term amnesty was applied to the package only by the many Republican opponents who succeeded in killing the bill.
The term amnesty came from a 1986 law passed by Congress, with the approval of President Reagan. With the passage of that legislation, some six million illegals became citizens.
Because of that stand by Reagan and several others, some analysts believe Reagan could not win a Republican primary today because of not being conservative enough.
For a further indication of how far the GOP has moved to the right, compare John McCain's positions during his 2000 run for president with his positions in the 2008 presidential election and his even farther right positions now that he is seeking reelection to the Senate from Arizona.
Sen. McCain was a prime sponsor of President Bush's comprehensive immigration reform bill three years ago and fellow Sen. Jon Kyl supported it. Today, they both are staunch opponents of any comprehensive immigration reform.
Another factor that likely enters in is that three years ago Weh was chairman of the state Republican Party and, as such, was expected to support national Republican initiatives, such as the immigration bill.
Recently I wrote about reasons why the state Democratic Party does not want to face Susana Martinez in the general election. I noted that she would take some women's vote, Hispanic vote and anti-Albuquerque vote from Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.
I've come up with a fourth reason why Democrat leaders may not want to face Denish in the general election. They've likely never thought of it and neither has anyone else in the state.
Martinez is from Las Cruces. Why should that make a bit of difference? During the past 50 years, candidates from Las Cruces have won the governor's office more often than candidates from anywhere else in the state.
And that includes Albuquerque. Las Cruces has given us three governors: Republican Ed Mechem in the '50s, Democrat Jerry Apodaca in the '70s and Republican Garrey Carruthers in the '80s.
Only Republican Dave Cargo in the '60s and Republican Gary Johnson have been from Albuquerque.
I know you are curious about where all the other governors came from during that half century. Well, there was Bruce King from Stanley who was governor for a great many of those years.
Otherwise, Democrat John Burroughs of Portales was governor in 1960. Republican Tom Bolack of Farmington was governor for a month in 1963.
We also had Democrat Jack Campbell from Roswell in the '60s. Democrat Toney Anaya from Moriarty was governor in the '80s. And Democrat Bill Richardson always had a house in Santa Fe even when he was in Washington, New York or elsewhere.
So you tell me why another candidate from Las Cruces shouldn't be feared by Democratic leaders.
Meanwhile the vicious attacks continue daily, turning this race from a snoozer into something people in my business dream about.
And Lt. Gov. Denish must also be thrilled that none of the Republican candidates seem to be giving a thought to attacking her.
MON, 5-24-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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