On Saturday, members of the state's Democratic Party Central Steering Committee met at the Kiva Auditorium. By 3pm, they had re-elected each of the party's leaders, including Chairman Brian Colon.
"I'm humbled and honored," said Colón who was nominated for a second term by State Auditor Hector Balderas. Watch Colón's emotional acceptance speech here.
"It's a great day for the Democratic party. They elected the entire slate of statewide officers. They gave them another term. That means they like the direction of the party, they like the direction the country is going to move in under President Obama."
Colón told me the party's leaders will be focused on the 2010 election, and stressed they want a Democrat to win back the one state office held by a Republican. Land Commisioner Pat Lyons, is term-limited and can't run for re-election.
"We know it's a very important office and we want to make sure a Democratic is in it and make sure we protect New Mexico's lands and provide education opportunities our children deserve.
Former Land Commissioner Ray has already confirmed he'll seek the office next year. Powell, who had the post in the early '90s, lost his bid to regain the office in the 2006 Democratic Primary to former Land Commissioner Jim Baca.
Listen to Colón's remarks here:
The elephant in the room, and there have been a lot of elephants and in Albuquerque this week (read about them here and here), was the resolution on Marriage Equality that gay activists have wanted to include in the party's platform.
"It passed," said Democracy for New Mexico blogger Barbara Wold with a big smile on her face. "There was a movement to vote on it on its own, but that was overthrown; so we were happy with that. There was a language change and now it's called Marriage Equality. That's what we wanted. It won by a huge amount to keep it in with the packet and to have everything together."
Southern New Mexico's Al Kissling, who has a background as a minister and who ran for the congressional seat Harry Teague now holds, wanted to keep the resolution out of the platform, but Democrats voted 309-35 to keep it.
"In this case my fellow Democrats support me and respect my relationship with Mary Ellen [Broderick] of twenty years, and respect us as human beings," said Wold.
Wold told me she doesn't think the stronger resolution language will undermine their efforts in Santa Fe, but wouldn't make any predictions on what legislators will do during a special session or during the 2010 legislature.
Wold says Marriage Equality isn't a religious issue, but Kissling says, "the state shouldn’t push a religious rite.”
She attributes the bigotry in New Mexico to the Catholic Church and tradition.
"There's some perception that this will take away from heterosexual marriages. I don't see it that way," said Wold. "It's not about a sacred sacrament. It's about the license and the piece of paper."
"It gives us some legal rights that other people have in their relationships. Hopefully, at some point in the future, we hope to get the same rights on the Federal level," said Wold.
Listen to our interview here:
[For more on the days events and to look at the specifics of the resolution, read Barbara Wold's blog post here]
Colón told us the Democrats sent a message that everyone should be treated equally and fairly.”
Colón said it's time to rethink whether or not government should even be involved in talking about about marriage. That should be a religious institution he said.
"At the end of the day, we need to understand what's religion, and we need to understand what's a governmental entity," Colón told me. "We've blurred that line, when it comes to marriage, because of our history. But, not all of our history is good."
Later, we asked Colón to talk about what NM's Washington delegation should do after this morning's ABQ JOURNAL story on the New Mexico National Guard's Flying Taco's losing their mission after the F-22 Raptors are mothballed.
Colón, along with NM Secretary of State Mary Herrera, will oversee next year's state wide election. We asked him if he's concerned about the legislature failing to fund money for ES&S voting machine upkeep and ballot printing.
"My goal is to make sure every vote counts in New Mexico," said Colón. "And whatever it takes to make that happen is what we should be doing."
He thinks the legislature may have rejected the funding measure as a way to negotiate a better maintenance contract with Herrera and county clerks.
For Pete's Sake:
Tonight, we learned, Senator Linda Lopez announced that she'll enter the 2010 Race for Lieutenant Governor. She told us while viewing John Walsh's America's Most Wanted with family members of the West Mesa Murder victims.
UPDATE: 10 pm
Santa Fe New Mexican Reporter Steve Terrell was also in ABQ to cover today's committee meeting. He posted this report on his blog Roundhouse Roundup.
Colon Photo: MG Bralley