Car Camping in the Combat Zone
Who in his right mind would go camping solo in the Bootheel?

Net Positive
New sustainability director Nick Sussillo

The Great Wasp War
The call went out to the lads of Silver City: This means war!

Pay to Play
The fledgling Las Cruces Vaqueros' field of dreams

Kiss of the Prairie Dog
Black-tailed prairie dogs once numbered in the billions

Columns and Departments
Editor's Note
Desert Diary

Business Beat
Noble Steeds
Holy Vortex, Batman!
Tumbleweeds Top 10

The Starry Dome
Ramblin' Outdoors
40 Days & 40 Nights
The To-Do List
Guides to Go
Henry Lightcap's Journal
Southwest Gardener
Continental Divide

Special Section
Arts Exposure

An Artistic Apprenticeship
Arts News
Gallery Guide

Body, Mind & Spirit
Here, Have a Placebo
Growing a Healing Tradition

Red or Green
Curious Kumquat
Dining Guide
Table Talk

About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e   July 2010


Don't Mess with New Mexico

Susana Martinez' $450,000 Texas windfall.

New Mexico voters need to tell wealthy Texans to stay the heck out of our politics. While it's common for out-of-state donors enamored of a candidate to chip in a few bucks toward the high cost of campaigning, what happened in this year's primary election was unprecedented. In the last three weeks of the GOP gubernatorial campaign, Houston homebuilder Bob J. Perry and his wife, Doylene, poured $450,000 into the coffers of Susana Martinez. Totaling $3 of every $5 Martinez raised during that crucial period, the Perrys' big bucks propelled the Las Cruces state district attorney past Allen Weh and into the November election.

Could Martinez have won without that big lift from Texas? Maybe — she was already gaining momentum. But the contributions unquestionably gave Martinez the ammo to counter a negative-ad blitz by Weh. If the Perrys feel similarly generous this fall, the Texas couple might just succeed in buying Martinez the job of governor of New Mexico.

Perry isn't just some Texan with a taste for New Mexico chiles, by the way. He largely bankrolled the odious Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that smeared 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

A spokesman for Perry told the Albuquerque Journal that the contributions were meant to ensure Martinez has "an opportunity to get her message of integrity out to the people." Perry supports Martinez because "he believes she is a reformer with a strong voice who represents the future of the Republican Party."

Integrity? Reform? Selling yourself to a mud-slinging Texas millionaire using a loophole in New Mexico's new campaign-finance law is a funny way to start cleaning up the system.

To be fair, such mega-contributions were possible only because Democrats — in a classic case of unintended consequences — postponed the effective date of limits passed in 2009 until after this year's general election. Supporters of Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish didn't want to handcuff her efforts to raise big bucks to run for governor. After the 2010 election, individual contributions to statewide candidates will be capped at $5,000 — chump change to the Perrys.

Pre-primary, as planned, Denish led all candidates in contributions over $5,000, totaling nearly $840,000. Top contributions included $125,000 from the Democratic Governors Association, $100,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and $80,000 from the pro-choice group Emily's List.

But Martinez ranked second, with more than $745,000 in donations over $5,000. After Perry, her next biggest givers were Mack Energy Corp. at $117,500 and Me-Tex Oil & Gas Co. at $55,000.

To put that $5,000 limit in perspective, according to the Secretary of State's database, the most any individual from Silver City gave any candidate for the primary election this year was $2,500.

No other candidate came close to Martinez in largesse from Texas. Denish garnered a total of $23,250 from Texas donors. Other Democrats getting Texas money included: Sandy Jones, $10,000 for his public-lands race; Hector Balderas, $10,000 for his state auditor campaign; and Brian Colon, $15,000 to run for lieutenant governor. GOP gubernatorial candidate Janice Arnold-Jones got $28,900 from the unfortunately named FastBucks Management Co. in Texas, and Martinez also got $10,000 from Texas-based Alliance Drilling Fluids.

We're delighted to have a candidate from this part of the state running for governor — somebody who might remember that there is life south of I-40. And Martinez ran a sharp, smart campaign to overwhelm four challengers, several of them with better name recognition. But as she goes on the stump promising to clean up the mess in Santa Fe, Martinez needs to come clean with voters and tell them what she owes to her deep-pocketed Texas patron.

Better yet, she ought to start her reform campaign by telling wealthy out-of-state donors thanks, but no thanks.

Wrong Number

Hanging up on candidates' robocalls.

As we head into the general election season, may we offer one other bit of unsolicited advice to 2010 candidates? Hang up on the "robocalling." The onslaught of computer-dialed, pre-recorded calls leading up to last month's primary was maddening. Even at 7:30 in the morning of election day, we got three robocalls. Trust us, if we'd bothered to listen to more than five seconds of the recorded pitches — long enough to determine who the heck was calling at 7:30 a.m. — those candidates would not have gotten our votes.

How can such calls be effective, anyway? It's hard to imagine many voters so bored — or, we guess, so fixated on politics — as to actually listen all the way through these pointless spiels. So all you're accomplishing is annoying people. (In fact, maybe candidates should call in the guise of their opposition: "I'm calling about candidate Joe Schmoe" Bam! Hang up! Never gonna vote for that SOB Schmoe!)

We realize that First Amendment political-speech protections probably mean such calls can't be outlawed. But couldn't besieged phone customers have the right to demand that any call be dialed and voiced by a human? Besides banning political robocalls in practice, such a provision would help protect our peace and quiet from intrusion by telemarketers and others who use auto-dialers.

Give us a candidate who promises to reform robocalling, and he or she will have our vote. Just don't call at 7:30 in the morning to tell us about it.

Winning Writing

Contest closes July 19.

If you're the sort who needs a deadline to get motivated, now's the time to head for the keyboard and start typing. The deadline for our annual Desert Exposure writing contest is July 19. You can submit fiction, essays, articles and poems — anything that in some way evokes life in Southwest New Mexico. There's no limit to the number of entries you can submit and the contest is open to veteran scribblers and novice authors alike. Unlike most writing contests, there's no entry fee.

We'll select a grand-prize winner plus four runner-ups to publish in the September issue. The grand prize comes with a $100 award, and each runner-up wins $25.

To enter, send your submission(s) to Desert Exposure Writing Contest, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062. You can also email your entries — either as an attached Word, RTF or plain text (TXT) file, or simply copied and pasted into the body of an email — to contest@desertexposure.com Be sure to include your name and contact information including postal address so we can send your check if you win. Keep a copy of your entry, as submissions cannot be returned.

But hurry, as July 19 will be here before you know it!



David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.

Return to Top of Page