New Mexico delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla. aren’t letting a little rain and the threat of a hurricane derail their good time today.
The 33 delegates and alternates – as well as spouses – are headed from their hotel in Clearwater, Fla. to the Davis Islands Garden Club in Tampa. Once there, they’ll have Cubano-themed lunch with a pair of Lt. Governors: Florida’s Jennifer Carroll (a UNM graduate) and New Mexico’s own John Sanchez.
The big news today is that New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who was initially supposed to deliver her speech Tuesday, will now speak Wednesday night. Martinez, perhaps the nation’s highest-profile Republican Hispanic governor, will introduce Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate. This is a pretty big score for Martinez because frankly, there may be as much interest in Ryan and his controversial budget proposal as there is in Mitt Romney.
It’s still not entirely clear what else Martinez, a former Dona Ana County district attorney, will speak about, but I’m working to find out details and will share them here as soon I get them.
As for that New Mexico delegation hotel, it’s a glorified Holiday Inn Express about 25-30 minutes away from the convention hall in Tampa. It’s nice enough – clean with a spacious, bright lobby and a non-descript bar. But it’s pretty bland, especially at $250 per night.
Conventional wisdom, so to speak, maintains that a state delegation’s importance to the presidential election is mirrored by its proximity to the convention hall and to a lesser extent, its aesthetic appeal. If that’s true, New Mexico is no longer a first-tier battleground state. But we already knew that, right?
Perhaps not surprisingly for Tampa, the New Mexico hotel is a mere stone’s throw from two strip clubs – the Bliss Cabaret and Personalitys (yes, that is how it is spelled on the marquee). Tampa reportedly has the highest concentration of strip clubs, per capita, in the nation. A drive through the region yesterday seemed to confirm the top-billing. I’m going to be too busy working to station myself outside of these clubs like some TV reporters and play gotcha with New Mexico delegates who might wander in. Not that our delegates would ever do that.
For what it’s worth, Clearwater also boasts the site of the very first Hooter’s restaurant in the nation – a short drive from the New Mexico delegation’s hotel, but I digress.
It’s not all titillation and sin here in Clearwater. Chic-Fil-A, the wholesome chicken sandwich joint which made headlines by proclaiming opposition to gay marriage this month, is right next door to the delegation hotel.
As for the convention itself, not much is happening today. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will gavel the convention to order and start the much-hyped “debt clocks.” These are giant tickers inside the convention hall that will serve as a constant reminder to conventioneers – and more importantly, television viewers – just how deeply our great nation is in debt.
Meanwhile, if you’re curious who from New Mexico is in attendance in Florida, here’s a delegate list:
2012 New Mexico Delegation Chairman
Congressional District 1 Delegates
Congressional District 1 Alternates
Congressional District 2 Delegates
Rayida (Rocky) Galassini
Congressional District 2 Alternates
Aaron Henry Diaz
Mark Van Dyke
Congressional District 3 Delegates
Congressional District 3 Alternates
Statewide At-Large Delegates
Statewide At-Large Alternates
Cecilia Martinez Salazar