In his Democratic National Convention speech last month, Bill Clinton said cooperation works better than constant conflict, because nobody’s right all the time. That notion explains the tragedy of politics right here in New Mexico. 

“Unfortunately,” Clinton said, “the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy, they’re always right, and compromise is weakness. Just in the last couple elections, they defeated two distinguished Republican senators because they dared to cooperate with Democrats on issues important to the future of the country, even national security. They beat a Republican congressman with an almost 100 percent voting record on every conservative score because he said he realized he did not have to hate the president to disagree with him. Boy, that was a non-starter, and they threw him out.” 

You’ve got to hate and you cannot compromise. That’s the government we have today. Politicians are holding up progress to serve rigid ideologies. 

Consider Senator Pro-Tem Tim Jennings, a dominant figure at the Roundhouse during legislative sessions, with a big mustache and folksy way of teasing colleagues. He’s a Democrat, the governor’s a Republican. They disagree on a host of issues. 

Now, isn’t that what our system is designed to create? A high-ranking Democrat in the legislature, butting heads with the higher-ranking Republican elected to run New Mexico? One side is not supposed to have all the power, and that’s the point. Differing views come together, compromise, and solutions are crafted. 

Unless hate motivates one side. We visit, again, the controversial audio recording of Keith Gardner, taken without the chief of staff’s knowledge and therefore an accurate portrayal of how he really feels. 

He’s talking about the legislature: “I hate those fuckers. I hate fucking Tim Jennings so bad right now. Oh god, I hate him. He’s a cocksucking son of a bitch.” 

That is hard-core trash talk. Jennings’s response to this was a little sad. From the Albuquerque Journal: “Their families know one another and their sons are friends, according to Jennings, who said he was shocked by Gardner’s comments.” (Gardner also calls Jennings “a fucking prick. I mean, a total prick.”)

So there’s raw, creepy hate from Gardner. Meanwhile, the governor herself is working to manipulate the outcome of Jennings’ Roswell race in the most obnoxious and basely political way possible. 

The mailer is hideous. The same weekend Gardner called Jennings during dinner to apologize for slamming him on that recording (again, that’s from the Journal), Reform NM Now was hitting voters in that area with mailing flyers featuring a black-and-white picture of Jennings next to a bright, smiley color photo of Gov. Martinez. 

“If Governor Martinez is FOR it…,” the mailer says, “politician Tim Jennings is AGAINST it.”

Firstly, who’s more of a politician here, given that Reform NM Now is a Super PAC run by the governor’s “top advisor” and campaign fundraiser Jay McCleskey? (We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars from huge corporations.) Does Tim Jennings have a guy who raises money all day to spend on swaying local elections? 

No. This is high-level stuff, authorized by the governor because she won’t compromise on her agenda. Instead of working with Democrats to fix problems, she is pulling strings behind-the-scenes to get them out of office. It will be easier to pass her agenda items if they’re gone. 

The Santa Fe Reporter asked Jennings why he thinks Gardner was so nasty about him: “Jennings tells SFR he doesn’t know what he did to ‘deserve that’ but recalls fighting with the administration over the questionable, multimillion-dollar lease awarded to the Downs of Albuquerque, which Jennings opposed.” 

Guess who is a major contributor to McCleskey’s Super PAC? The Downs at Albuquerque have given Martinez at least $70,000, which goes toward changing the outcome of elections through the use of ugly, stupid mailers. 

So Gardner hates Jennings in a way that’s basically sexual and primal. Gov. Martinez prioritizes and funds an effort to kick Jennings off the senate, because he questions things like a state contract potentially worth more than $1 billion for the governor’s campaign contributors. 

Clinton may have been right when he said cooperation is how problems get solved, but it looks like we won’t know until there’s a different governor. Martinez isn’t interested in solving problems, she’s interested in destroying those who oppose her and question state deals. This is how it works now. 

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