On the front page of Wednesday's Sun-News, we published photos of the winners of the 13 contested races in Doña Ana County the day before.
It was, by most accounts, a fairly diverse group. There were 11 men and two women. Ten were age 50 or older, but some by only a year or two. The racial makeup, as best I can tell, included eight Anglos, four Hispanics and a man born to a white mother and a Kenyan father who was elected president of the United States.
There's just one thing that all 13 of the local winners Tuesday had in common — party affiliation. All are Democrats. So were the two U.S. congressmen elected from the northern part of the state.
What was a tough night for Republicans nationwide was absolutely brutal for the GOP in New Mexico and Doña Ana County. A whitewash. A shutout. A skunking. I'm running out of sports metaphors, but you get the idea.
Starting in January, every government entity in my life — from the City Council to the County Commission, to the state Legislature, to the U.S. Congress, to the president — will be controlled by Democrats. (The City Council is technically a nonpartisan board).
As someone who believes the two-party system is too exclusionary, the notion of one-party control is troubling, even if I may agree with the party soon to be in power more often than I do with the one soon to be relegated to opposition status.
That was part of John McCain's appeal to voters in his last, desperate days. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi replaced Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi as the dangerous associates tied to Obama. But it's hard to beat a campaign based on hope with one based on fear and anger.
That is true, I believe, on the local level as well.
Two years ago, when Reps. Tom Taylor of Farmington and Dan Foley of Roswell took over GOP leadership roles in the House, they vowed to change the way the party operated. For too many years, Republicans in the Roundhouse had focused only on what they opposed. They never laid out an agenda explaining what they supported.
In the last two sessions, House Republicans have come to Santa Fe with a proactive agenda. It's still an uphill battle to get that agenda passed, but at least GOP House members can go back to their districts and explain to voters what they tried to accomplish, and not just what they tried to defeat.
The local GOP did not field candidates in three of the five state Senate races and four of the seven House races Tuesday. And, too many of the Republican candidates who did run (not all, but many) had a long list of grievances — both real and imagined — but little in terms of a proactive agenda. They knew what they were against and were adept at expressing their anger. That was, perhaps, an attractive message to those who share that anger. But it's not a winning political strategy, and is certainly not a recipe for effective governing.
For the local GOP to rebound, they must have candidates who can tell voters what they are for, and not just rail against what they oppose.
Walter Rubel has been a newsman for more than 25 years and is managing editor of the Sun-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.