Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colon is on record telling SFR that he treats the party fairly...that is until I grilled him on the election cycle, the primary caucus comedy-of-errors, his political ambitions and whether he taunted his Republican counterpart with text messages after New Mexico's Congressional delegation went true blue.
DM: Are you the most popular state chairman in the country right now?
BC: Well, I don't know about that. I know that my colleagues are all very excited for us out here in New Mexico.
Do we still count as a swing state?
You bet. I think we are as blue as they get right now, but I think New Mexicans are always going to be paying very close attention to how hard their public officials work.
Let's look back at the last year. There was obviously some problem with the Caucus. Weren't we supposed to have some sort of big meeting to talk about the caucus and what can be done better?
I thought there was going to be a big public meeting.
We talked about doing lots of different things but then we decided that we would focus on the victory in November and that's exactly what we got.
Will there be anything in the future regarding that or are we just hoping it will sort itself out by the time the next caucus comes around.
The question will be whether we have another caucus.
You think we'll make the move to an actual primary?
I think that's up for discussion. I, for one, think the idea of an early primary is the feeling.
Still in February?
It kind of depends. New Mexico really needs to make sure we're relevant and at the table in terms of who the nominee is going to be. I think there's a national movement to reevaluate the whole primary process. It'll be interesting to see where we go from here in the next four years.
Looking at the sheer awesomeness of the Democratic Party's success this year: How does it balance out between strong candidates and having weak Republican opponents?
Look, I think this starts from two years ago when we all agreed that we had to have 33 county strategy in place. When Barack Obama became the nominee he bolstered that by agreeing that he was going to have a 50-state strategy and we had a fantastic slate of candidates and we had tens of thousands of volunteers all over the state. I think our ground game was something the Republicans didn't even get close to matching. I think all that plays into the quality of our success.
If you were a Republican, what would was the one thing that you would definitely have had to differently this time around.
I couldn't even imagine being Republican, I'm sorry.
They're just that different, huh?
What happens if Sen. Jeff Bingaman is tapped for Obama's cabinet?
I'm not going to speculate on what's going to happen there. I know that Sen. Bingaman has said he's not interested in serving as Secretary of Energy. And I know he knows how he is best suited to serve the state of New Mexico and the county and he'll do what's right for that.
We would lose all seniority in Congress and the Senate if he went. I imagine that would be a mixed bag.
He is a jewel no matter where he is, whether it's in the administration or whether he continues to serve in the Senate, which is what I expect him to do, he's going to be serving New Mexicans and our country well.
Let me ask you: Would you make a good Lieutenant Governor?
[chuckle] First of all, you've got to get to the first step which is our governor accepting a position in the cabinet, which he'd be another asset to the Obama administration. My focus is making sure that we close the deal on the Democrats we elected a few days ago. We've got a couple close races that we've got to watch the canvass and the recount and that's what I'm focused on right now.
But, in the event, do you think you'd make a good Lieutenant Governor?
There are a lots of great Democrats out there that would serve the state well. I think the people of New Mexico will be well served by the Democratic party.
Well, I think I would be a horrible Lieutenant Governor.
You're taking your name out of it!
I'm hearing that so many people who've worked really hard this election season are looking at new jobs, talking about moving to DC--what are you looking at now that you've delivered New Mexico? What are your future ambitions.
First of all, there are a lot of things to be credit for us being able to deliver New Mexico. We had a great slate of candidate, we had thousands of volunteers all over the state. I couldn't be more grateful both to our candidates and our volunteers for working together in unprecedented ways. There is some great statistical observations that one can make that are just so night and day from four years ago. We had 40 offices open in all 33 counties, we had tens of thousands of volunteers, the presidential nominee came and put his resources on the ground a hundred days before the election. There's just so many things that were really starkly different. Me being chair was just one of those very small things, but it was very much a collective effort. I'm grateful for all the volunteers, the staff and the candidates for doing a great job. What was your question?
I was just asking what you were looking forward to in the future?
It's unclear. I really have been focused on the election and I've got to focus on these canvasses. I'm focused on making sure that we continue to move in the direction that the people have asked for, which is far different than what he had the last four years.
So, that's an 'I'm not ruling out public office?' Is that what that is?
Yeah, I would adopt the statement that I'm not ruling out public office, but I really am focused on making sure we put everything in place so that the Democrats can lead.
I was watching Countdown's election wrap-up the other day and I saw you up on the screen again. That was one of the images they pulled from the convention: you, with Brad Hyau behind you, passing to New York. What was your favorite moment of this election?
Golly... There were a lot of great moments. I guess one of my favorite moments was when I was in Invesco Field and I was there with my wife and son as we listened to Sen. Obama accept the nomination to be president of the United States. I think that was a big deal for me. 85,000 people is a lot of people. For me to be able to be there with my wife and my 10-year-old son, that was probably the best.
I guess all the cigars you bought, those were worth it?
[Laughing] It was all worth it. The sacrifices I made, the sacrifies my family made, frankly the sacrifices my law firm has made was all worth it.
Anything you wish you could do differently?
The only thing is, it's difficult to express appropriate gratitude when you have literally tens of thousands of people volunteering. Just to give you some perspective that I'm not just making this stuff up: we had literally 10,000 volunteers in Bernalillo County. That's unbelievable. I don't know even know what the final number was. I know for early and absentee voting we had 200,000 people vote, so then probably another 150,000 voted on election day. 10,000 people in Bernalillo County and I got 33 counties, so it's hard to make sure that you give credit where credit's due and express appropriate gratitude for the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into this eleciton.
That sounds kinda like the, "Yeah, if I had one flaw, I might just be a little too awesome."
[Laugh] I have never been on the record saying that.
No, that was Barack Obama during the roast a few weeks back.
That's right, the one for the Catholic Church. I remember that. You know, look, my term as chair has provided me an opportunity to be humbled, proud and it's had its high and lows. Really, it's been very rewarding.
Well, thanks. This will probably be a slightly more uncomfortable conversation when I speak to Republican chair Weh.
Let me say this, since you're going to call Chairman Weh. Chairman Weh, from the day I was elected chair of Democratic Party, has always been a gentleman with me. I've always appreciated that.
So, I can't quote you as saying 'In yo' face!'?
No! You know what, it's funny. Let me tell you his first overture to me. The day I got elected chair, he literally picked up the phone, congratulated me, gave me his cell number and said, 'Look, if you ever hear of anything that I'm doing that you feel is inappropriate and not forthright, here's my cell number, pick up the phone and call me on it.' OUr relationship has been a very good one. We've had some fun during the election process, texting one another back and forth--
With 'In yo' face!" text messages?
'Are we having fun, yet?' Those kind of text messages. He's an interesting guy. He's served our country in the military and should be commended for serving our country now.
One thing that you couldn't help but notice is that New Mexico made the national news several times with some seriously offensive remarks made by Republicans. Do you think the Republican Party handled this stuff appropriately?
You know, I tried to let the Republican do their politics in terms of their statements. I certainly made my statements to the press about what I thought about it. Chairman Weh wasted no time expressing his shock and displeasure with those statements and I thought that was appropriate. Had I been in his shoes, I'm sure I would have done pretty much the same thing.
Interview cross-posted at SFR"s Swing State of Mind