Marty Chavez was widely condemned by progressives last week for saying he'd have no problem beating Tom Udall because Udall was "so far to the left." To many progressives, Marty is actually Too Far To The Right. Udall is anything but too far to the left...rather, he just has good politics.
I had the opportunity to participate in an impromptu conference call that Marty held with "progressive bloggers" this past Tuesday. I found it interesting that there were only two of us on the call, and have wavered on whether to write about it. Part of me is genuinely open to the possibility of a Marty "opening" with progressives and wants to give the whole thing a little time. But, as it turns out, Heath Haussamen was on the line also, and while he asked no questions, he then went on to do a blog about the call. If I had described that conversation with Marty it would have been done in just a tad bit more critical way than the way Haussamen approached it.
So what would be my take?
Well, when I asked Marty Chavez to clarify in what specific ways Tom Udall was too far to the left, in essence wanting to know how he differed from Tom Udall...he decided to reply that there were no differences. At first he said he'd "have to think about it" then said he couldn't think of anything that he and Udall would vote differently on.
So why make the comment in the first place that Udall is too far to the left? Obviously, he made that comment to position himself for a) appealing to conservative Democrats in a race with Udall for the primary nomination and b) a full swing back into his comfort zone, which is well right of center on the Democratic spectrum, for the general election in which he will want to appeal to Republicans and almost Republicans.
So why not maintain his position about Udall when asked the question in this conference call? Well, because its strategic for him to placate progressives in this moment in time. But the problem is that many progressives in Albuquerque have long histories with Marty Chavez.
Later in the conversation, Marty suggested to us that we shouldn't ask him about development issues because as Senator he would be grappling with entirely different things. But a person's values translate across a broad spectrum of issues, and judgments about those values are based on a politician's body of work.
Tell me, given the fact that Marty had no qualms about bulldozing a road through a National Monument considered sacred by native communities, could we expect him to favor legislation at the national level to protect sacred sites?
Yes, Marty's record in Albuquerque is very salient to his run for Senate. Progressives have very legitimate concerns about the potential for "Marty the Senator." And we'd like to have an actual primary competition so that the spectrum of issues could be substantively aired.
Having said this, I did appreciate being included on the call. When he chooses to be, he's quite pleasant.
Thursday, November 01, 2007