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Politics, election focus of conference

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

LAS CRUCES — Politics and the midterm election dominated the final day of the Domenici Public Policy Conference on Thursday.

Democratic political consultant James Carville and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson shared the stage in a conversation about the changing political landscape.

Carville predicted white, college-educated women were going to be key voters determining midterm election results.

“If a million people show up to march … you might want to listen to them. That’s not normal behavior,” said Carville, referring to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

“As a Republican woman, what breaks my heart is this is going to be the year of the woman, but Republican women are not going to share in that,” Soltis Anderson said.

Only 9 percent of Republicans in Congress are women, and if several lose their seats, women who are “right of center won’t have a voice,” she said.

Domenici Institute director Garrey Carruthers, who served as the moderator for the discussion, asked about the Trump factor.

“I don’t think there’s any chance he’s going to become popular,” Carville said, predicting there would be a blue wave but turnout would determine whether its “powder blue or navy.”

Soltis Anderson said the president’s strategy to get voters to the polls for Republican candidates is ”’I’ve got my base and they still love me and I’m going to go speak to them.'”

Several candidates running for office in New Mexico told the Domenici Conference audience they want to move beyond divisive party politics.

“Both parties have stopped working together and as a result places like our home have been left behind,” said Xochitl Torres Small, the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

“I don’t believe good ideas come with a party label. When I’m in Congress I look forward to working with anyone,” she said.

Her Republican rival Yvette Herrell also had agreed to speak at the conference “but was called away to D.C. to visit with Republican consultants,” Carruthers told the audience.

The women are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who is not seeking re-election to that seat to run for governor.

Pearce told the conference a bipartisan approach is needed to solve New Mexico’s serious problems.

“This state is not going to reverse its direction with just Democrats or Republicans,” he said.

“I don’t want a one-party state. That’s Venezuela and I don’t want that.”

Democratic candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham also was invited but stayed in Washington to cast “two important votes” on key legislation, according to state Sen. Howie Morales, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Morales took her place and stressed the need for education reform to improve the state’s schools.

Earlier in the day, Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Algeria, Iraq and Syria, talked about the need to develop a “shared leadership style” in foreign policy that builds alliances to deal with conflict in China, Iran and Syria.

“Sometimes we confront,” he said. “Sometimes we cooperate.”