NY Times: In New Mexico, 2006 is a referendum on Iraq and power

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Via Headwaters News comes this NY Times piece on Bernalillo and Placitas, and voters living in the northern New Mexico communities:

In interviews with nearly two dozen people in Bernalillo, a small, mostly Hispanic town on Route 66, and its neighbor, Placitas, which is more affluent and increasingly more Republican, voters expressed their concerns about the state of the nation. Asked what issues will sway their votes in the House race here, almost everyone interviewed said, “The war and …” (fill in the blank).

For some Republicans here, this one-two punch — the war and the federal deficit, the war and corruption, the war and the House page scandal — is enough to catapult some to the other side. Or at least to get them thinking of voting for the other party, something few of them imagined two years ago, they said.

This is interesting news coming into the stretch. The story has other tidbits, including Republicans who plan on sticking with the party and Democrats reluctantly voting the party ticket. Still, this isn’t good for Republicans:

As Bert Miller, a retired chemical engineer, hauled groceries to his car, he said that he would still vote Republican even though he had soured on the party.

Mr. Miller, 67, a fiscal conservative who moved here with his wife in 1998, said he was concerned about the war. But he is no less concerned about Republican spending gone amok.

“Republicans have been a disappointment,” Mr. Miller said. “This president hasn’t vetoed anything except one bill, on a social issue, stem cell research.”

Mr. Miller said he yearned for old-fashioned Republican principles: tighter budgets and smaller government. “Things have gotten crazy,” he said. “Let’s get to work on the deficit and not same-sex marriage.”

With all the negative campaigning, that type of mindset is going to keep a lot of voters home on election day.

A Republican newcomer to the area, Stan Nivault, 52, a married contractor and father of four from Austin, Tex., said he had never voted for a Democrat. But this year, Mr. Nivault, who calls himself a staunch Catholic, said he actually might, mostly because of the revelation that former Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, had sent explicit electronic messages to underage male Congressional pages.

“It’s a bad thing,” Mr. Nivault said. “I’m upset that the guy was there to begin with and that Republicans did not handle it correctly. Democrats have made a big issue of it, but they have a right to.”

“Normally I vote straight Republican, but this year I may not vote that way because I’m a little upset,” Mr. Nivault said. “Every time you open the paper or listen to television, it gets worse and worse.”

New Mexico FBIHOP had a post about this election swinging toward national issues last week. And it comes back to something I’ve heard a lot of recently: people wanting to vote Democrat just to put them in charge of Congress. To a large degree, the election in the 1st District is not about Heather Wilson or Patricia Madrid.

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