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Whigs Revived; Gov. Goes Back to School

By Sean Olson
Of the Journal
      New Mexico's newest political party just goes to show that you can't keep a good name down.
    The Whigs — whose name comes from a derisive Scottish word meaning to urge on horses but also connotes rebellion against autocracy — have made two major appearances in American history. First as the nickname for colonists trying throw off the yoke of British imperialism — aka the Revolutionary War. The Whigs made a comeback in response to the presidency of Andrew Jackson, which they were not fond of, and had four presidents under their banner until the party dissolved in the mid-19th century.
    Now, they're back.
    The Modern Whig Party has been around nationally for about a year, but New Mexico's branch is just getting set up, Modern Whig state Chairman Caleb Rice of Moriarty said Tuesday.
    The original American party battled excesses of the federal government's executive branch, which it believed had grown too powerful.
    Rice said today's party is centrist, providing a home for people who feel the major parties have grown too extreme on the left and right.
    "We're about fiscal responsibility, states' rights — because the federal government has overstepped its bounds — and term limits," Rice said.
    Expect the Whig party in New Mexico to take on political corruption, argue for balanced budgets and push for term limits for all officeholders.
    Guest lecturer: Gov. Bill Richardson played the role of storyteller Tuesday, dropping in on a University of New Mexico international politics class to do a little lecturing and recall some of his high-profile negotiations abroad.
    He even got to talk a little baseball.
    Richardson told the students he took in a baseball game in Cuba in 1996 while he was there negotiating with Fidel Castro. Both baseball fans, Richardson told Castro he had seen the high-scoring game and praised Cuban hitters. He questioned the pitching, however.
    "He did not like that," Richardson told the class.
    Richardson covered economics and foreign policy, essentially giving a thumbs up to President Barack Obama's policies.
    He gave a few tips on negotiating: "You've got to connect on a personal level." And he gave a brief synopsis of where he will focus his efforts in his last year and a half as governor: It will be all about education.
    Richardson shied away from only one question: What he would be doing after his term?
    "I've never been a long-range planner," he said.

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