Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Word Is: A Royal-Style Salute for a Man of Integrity!

Nearly 700 people honored retiring Senator Pete Domenici this weekend at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The sold-out "Here's to Pete" salute and fundraiser was hosted by New Mexico First, a statewide non-partisan organization, and sponsored by community groups and local businesses.

ABC Political Analyst Sam Donaldson was the master of ceremonies. In this INTERVIEW, he praised the Senator's legacy of bi-partisanship. Donaldson told me he believes Domenici will spend the remainder of his term working on the energy crisis, and will best be remembered as a fiscal hawk.

The event featured music, songs, comedy, flamenco dancing and even junior cheerleaders. Domenici baseball cards were included in the media kit, and video tributes played on the big screen in the Roy Disney Theater.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a Sandia High graduate, led the tributes by former staffers. In this SPEECH Napolitano told the crowed she learned a little math from Sen. Domenici after she graduated college in 1979. She says he taught her how to round up to the nearest 100 million.

Napolitano, recently listed as a Top 5 Governor by Time magazine certainly had a better weekend than her former Matador classmate, David Addington. He's the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Read about his congressional testimony regarding the administrations treatment of prisoners at Gitmo here.

After her speech other interns and staffers appeared on stage and sang "God Bless Domenici," to the tune of God Bless America.

Domenici's daughter Clare and Sister Marianella Domenici, the principal at St. Mary's Catholic School, said in this INTERVIEW, that it was an emotional day for them. Clare said she's looking forward to spending some downtime, and going to Isotopes baseball games, with "my pop" after his retirement. And Sister Marianella said her brother looks better. She's pleased with his medical care and said it looks like everyone's prayers are working.

Domenici, sitting on a second level balcony, complete with red, white and blue banners and a U.S. Senate Seal, spoke to the crowd, from his heart, and without notes in this SPEECH.

He says he's enjoyed serving the big towns, little towns and the country. He said 36 years is a long time to serve, but it seemed like just yesterday that he first ran for the Albuquerque City Commission in 1966.

The state's junior Senator Jeff Bingaman attended the event. He told Eyewitness News 4, in this television interview, "We of course don't agree on everything, but there are a lot of things we have agreed on, and I feel good about some of the things we've accomplished."

Governor Richardson appeared via video. Richardson wondered aloud who's wife would make them shave their beard first.

Noticeably absent from the event were all three congressional representatives. Sam Donaldson later delivered him letters from the Representatives. However, both Congressional District - 1 candidates, Martin Heinrich and Darren White attended the event.

The Albuquerque Journal 's David Roybal wrote in Sunday's paper that Domenici's exit from politics will leave the state's Republican Party weakened, but former Congressman Manual Lujan disagreed. Learn why here.

Overall it was a testament to Domenici's service that so many people, from both parties showed up. Domenici said it best, "Nobody hates me"...and that is rare in politics today.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

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