What about Richard Berry?
The mayor, I mean. Albuquerque. There are laundry lists of possible candidates for the Senate seat of Jeff Bingaman when he leaves office after his current term ends. Mayor Berry is on none I can find.
Check out the New Mexico Politics blog with Joe Monahan. Political junkie Joe is giddy with the name game.
A recent Monahan blog had a marvelous “se habla politics?” quote by Albuquerque Democrat Martin Heinrich, considered a top possibility for a run at the Bingaman prize.
“…my decision will be based on whether I believe I can best serve New Mexico in the House or in the Senate.”
Oh, such bull. Translation: If the polls indicate I have a chance at this thing, I’m running.
On the Republican side of the aisle, much speculation centers on Heather Wilson who hasn’t come out and said she covets the Senate seat, but who tends to walk, talk and act like a candidate. (Wilson announced her candidacy shortly after this column was distributed.)
I hereby nominate Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry to someone’s list of probable Senate candidates. I have never met Mayor Berry but I hope one day to make that acquaintance.
Here’s the routine bio stuff. Nebraska guy. Came here in 1982 to attend UNM where he lettered in track and field, got his degree in finance and administration. Met and married Albuquerque native Maria Medina. So long, Nebraska. Successful businessman, two-term Republican state rep from Albuquerque. The only thing I could find bothersome in his official biography is Mr. Berry gives his Jack Russell Terrier equal marquee space with his son.
Please, dog lovers, don’t write. I know those puppies are precious, but they’re not kids, OK? (I’ve got this uneasy feeling you are going to write, anyway.)
From what I read about this guy, he just can’t get it through his thick head that politicians deserve to be pampered, surrounded by admiring gofers. He forgot to pin on the badge that says, “I’m Special.”
So Richard J. Berry is sworn in as Albuquerque Mayor on Dec. 1, 2009, and you think the first thing he would do is order the car. One neat thing about being the head honcho in the Duke City is you get brand new wheels.
Berry ambles down to the city garage, says why do I need a new car, give me one of those 4-year old clunkers. So, big deal, just a drop in the huge Albuquerque budget? Yes, it is a big deal. He is saying, tough times, city stretched, I am willing to sacrifice and I am expecting you to sacrifice as well.
Then there’s the time he wanted to discuss some city business with Albuquerque Journal editors. In her Journal column, Leslie Linthicum recalls looking out the window and seeing this solitary figure ambling up the sidewalk to the newspaper building. It’s the mayor. Drove himself, Leslie said. Didn’t find it necessary to bring a policy adviser. Carried his own briefcase.
Another character star is Berry’s concern for the less fortunate. Mayor Berry launched an important initiative to help the destitute in downtown Albuquerque. On a recent bitterly cold night he was driving the streets looking for homeless people to take them to a safe shelter.
Smart. Quiet. Unassuming. Church-going guy. Cares about people. Let’s see, who does that remind us of? Oh, I know. Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Tom Udall is liberal enough to hug entire forests, so why not the party balance that worked so well for New Mexico in the Bingaman, Pete Domenici era?
Certainly my detractors will say I am just buttering up to Berry in the event he might one day get elected and choose me to be his spokesman.
That falsehood will not be dignified with an answer. Were I offered such a position my decision would be based on whether I think I can best serve my fellow New Mexico citizens as a columnist or a public relations flak. And, the cash, of course.
Have a nice day.
(Ned Cantwell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel it is really necessary.)