I've posted about Martin Heinrich once before, but the post is no longer online. It was for April 1st, 2008, and I had just finished my analysis of presidential candidates during the primary. So, as my April Fools day joke, I analyzed Heinrich as though he were a presidential candidate. My analysis was basically "great positions, but it needs to be more fleshed out for presidency". And that's still true. But Heinrich isn't running for the presidency.
He's running as representative for New Mexico, in a district that is Albuquerque-centered but contains parts of 5 counties. And if you're a New Mexican who can vote for him this election, you more or less need to. Over at the Duke City Fix, Johnny_Mango has a great piece up about the campaigning Heinrich is doing. And in the past, Mango has written quite favorably about the guy.
And this is fair. Martin Heinrich is in my top three of favorite political figures; the first is dead, and the second is Barack Obama. He was an exceedingly competent city councilman, and his campaign is one which emphasizes both optimism and an actual commitment to action. He's good people, and that should be enough to vote for him.
But he's inexperienced, you say. And he's too good looking, you say. Well then, we have another option.
Darren White is both experienced and does not have an abundance of handsome. Instead, he ran President Bush's campaign in Bernalillo County in 2004, which is a partisan attack but one that seems rather valid.
Second, Darren White is an incompetent fear-monger. Now, I'm not one to say these things lightly, and I don't mean to be libelous. But Darren White is a fear-monger. In 2004, there was a fire in the bosque, and our fire department responded to it. There was also a device there for converting vegetable oil into biodiesel. Darren White ordered a lockdown of the scene because of the biodiesel converter, and two things happened: one, a media circus, documented here. Two, the arrest and vilification of two sensible people who just happen to really like alternative energy. And while this is old news, it's relevant news. When faced with an unclear situation, White chose bravado and a get-tough attitude that not only made a situation far more complicated than it needed to be, it led to unnecessary fear. Fear that riles people up and gets the better of their reason. And fear that is directed at a perceived internal enemy. A willingness to jump the gun is not something I want in my representative, and it is especially bad when that representative is part of the body that declares war. And this aggressive grandstanding isn't a solitary phenomenon.
Also back in 2004 Darren White reacted viscerally to a story about a con-man. To be fair, what the con-man did was wrong (if it were right, he wouldn't be a con-man). But we have laws and procedures to deal with con-men. And we, as the United States, grant criminals some basic rights. Not the full rights of citizens, but rights as human beings, and I believe these rights are a key part of our society. How we treat our criminals does not reflect on how repulsed we are by their actions - it instead reflects our degree of civilization, and our willingness to pursue justice under law instead of the justice of the mob. It's one of those things that marks us as civilized.
Darren White holds a different perspective on the issue. As quoted in the Alibi story, Darren White, in his capacity as Bernalillo County Sheriff, said "I'd like to kick his ass. Seriously, let me have five minutes alone with him." Understandably, he was reacting to the appalling actions of a criminal. But this was no rapist, nor murderer. This was a con-man, who simply swindled taxpayer money, and who was under federal investigation. A five-minute off-the -record beating is not an appropriate sentence. I shouldn't even have to type that, but there it is. While I respect the right of Darren White to free speech in his personal life, in his capacity as sheriff he should know better. On top of it all, this remark came at a time when
...our new Metropolitan Detention Center has already earned a reputation for illegal brutality, and that guards were caught on surveillance camera pummeling three handcuffed inmates for 17 minutes earlier this year. The episode is very likely going to cost the public large sums of money once a fat settlement is reached. Do you think the lawyers for the inmates might have clipped and saved White's remarks?So here's two incidents from early in Darren White's role as sheriff that undermine his judgment. Fear mongering in the first, and weakening our record on human rights in the second. Plus, both mistakes (no matter what perspective you have on the morality involved) were costly, and undermined public faith in the Albuquerque Police Department. This isn't the record of a man who is tough on crime, and it isn't the record of a man who supports inexpensive government. This is the record of grandstanding, bravado, and recklessness. And if elected to the house of representatives, this man will get a vote about whether or not our nation goes to war.
So, there's still time left. Vote for Martin Heinrich, and if you can't just do it because he's good people (yay raising the minimum wage), vote because the man he's running against is dangerous, irrational, and has lost the support of the Republican party.