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          Front Page




Senator Slams Political 'Bootlicking'

By Jeff Jones
Journal Politics Writer
    SANTA FE— State Sen. John Grubesic said he called things as he saw them when he wrote a newspaper column that paints an unflattering portrait of fellow Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson and describes the "bootlicking" of politicos at a popular steakhouse near the Capitol.
    A Richardson spokesman called the column from Grubesic— a now-frequent Richardson critic who has acknowledged past problems with anger and alcohol— a childish rant that doesn't befit a lawmaker.
    "I guess the anger management is still a work in progress," said Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley.
    When Richardson himself was asked Wednesday whether he had any comments on the column, he said, "No. God," and began laughing.
    Richardson supported Democratic incumbent Sen. Roman Maes of Santa Fe over Grubesic and other Democratic contenders in the 2004 primary election for the District 25 state Senate seat.
    Grubesic stuck by his column, published Wednesday in The Santa Fe New Mexican. "This is why I ran: To call government on its bullshit," he said in an interview. "And this is bullshit. If (the column) is political suicide, let my head be the first upon the block."
    The Grubesic column was a hot topic in Roundhouse hallways Wednesday. The first-term Santa Fe lawmaker described a Friday-night scene at the Rio Chama Steakhouse, which is just a couple of doors away from the Capitol and serves as a hangout for politicians, lobbyists and others who frequent the circular floors of the big, round building up the street.
    Grubesic, who announced last year that he had quit drinking after a couple of incidents with Santa Fe police, wrote that he was drinking tonic and lime at the Rio Chama— formerly the Bull Ring— and saw the place in a new light.
    "When I walked in, I noticed how everyone was strategically placed. Lobbyists positioned near the entrance poised to pick off the politicians as they walked in, attractive women in the second tier and of course the governor's minions protecting his corner table until he arrived to hold court and have the fops approach to kiss his ring," Grubesic said in the column.
    "The (state) cops place themselves between the crowd and Richardson. A curtain of muscle hiding the flabby king . . Then the parade starts. One by one I see them line up for some face time with Bill. This bootlicking is not partisan; Reds and Blues alternate hoping to protect their pork," the senator wrote.
    Grubesic said in the interview Wednesday that he wrote the guest column as "insight to New Mexico (about) how government works, or doesn't work, in our state."
    "I'm still a good Democrat," Grubesic insisted. The column "was an attack on how government works. If it upset (Richardson), I'm sorry for upsetting him. Was I dishonest in this piece? No."


E-MAIL writer Jeff Jones