Spending the pre-election period in a new state has been very interesting! I realized that there has been much more political advertising here in NM for a congressional seat that's up for grabs than I am used to in Massachusetts--where pretty much the Democrats always won.
The noisiest campaign has been that between incumbent four-term member of Congress Republican Heather Wilson (on the left) , and her Democratic challenger, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid. This is not even my congressional seat--my rep in congress is Tom Udall, and apparently he's a shoe-in, since I haven't seen a single ad for him. Ditto with the senatorial race, where Democrat Jeff Bingaman also appears to be coasting to an easy victory.
But the Wilson/Madrid ads are all over TV and they are (on both sides) mean, annoying, and negative. So far, all I know about either candidate is that she thinks her opponent is bad for the country. Patsy says Heather is too cozy with Bush and supports the war in Iraq ("even though 22 troops from New Mexico have died"--an interesting usage of "troop" to mean one individual in the military--a usage not supported, I must say, by my really big English language dictionary, which says that a troop consists of two or more platoons and a headquaters group.)
Heather says Patsy is in bed with the lobbyists, was a lousy Attorney General, and has been too close to corruption scandals in the state. After watching the ads (which, according to a New Mexico newspaper writer, have cost over $11 million dollars--for an astonishing 11,500 ads!!) my feeling pretty much is that I wouldn't want to vote for either one of them. I also think it's too bad, when the House still has a long ways to go to achieve gender parity, to see women knocking each other off the podium in races like these, when there are so many other races with only male candidates.
Bill Richardson, running for re-election as governor and pretty much a shoe-in, has been content to decorate my front door with earnest and cheerful doorknob hangars urging me to vote, telling me where my voting station is, and making sure that I know that Bill Richardson is the current governor. The only ad I've heard from the other side is one that criticizes Richardson for being out of state too much. "Where oh where is Bill Richardson?" The ads criticize him for being interested in the presidency--an interesting observation, since clearly most people would think it would be a plus for NM, not a negative, to have their governor elected president!
New Mexico as a state allows people to vote weeks in advance, and they estimate that about half the turnout has already occurred. But this just seems wrong to me--I want to vote on Election Day! So I will be there tomorrow, probably waiting in line (I've done a lot of that since I got here), but enjoying democracy in action. I have my lists of key Republican upset states waiting to inform my TV election observations tomorrow night--one thing about living in a more Western timezone is that I don't have to stay up as late to see meaningful results! (Rick, Marilyn, Bobbie, Andy--remember that late night watching the presidential election 6 years ago?)