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  Domenici Wants Dendahl Off the Job
Posted by FoM on March 08, 2001 at 08:13:18 PT
By Loie Fecteau, Journal Politics Writer 
Source: Albuquerque Journal Sen. Pete Domenici said Wednesday that New Mexico Republican Party chairman John Dendahl went "across the line" in his advocacy of drug law reform and should resign.

"I don't think he should be chairman anymore," said Domenici, who is the state's most prominent Republican and its senior senator. "I have told him that in plain English," Domenici said in an interview from Washington. "He should step down."

Domenici said he "strongly disagrees" with Dendahl's support of Gov. Gary Johnson's eight-bill drug-reform package pending before the state Legislature. The package includes proposals to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, reduce penalties for possessing some other drugs and legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

Dendahl, an outspoken conservative who has been a highly active chairman of the party since 1994, said he would not quit.

Domenici said he also disagrees with the Republican governor on drug issues. Johnson responded Wednesday in a letter to the Journal, praising Dendahl's "courage and conviction."

"Unfortunately, he has received harsh and unfounded criticism," Johnson said. Johnson said neither he nor Dendahl advocates drug use, which Johnson calls "a bad choice."

Johnson mostly has been a critic of the nation's war on drugs, arguing it is misdirected and ineffective.

Dendahl said he planned to seek re-election "on his record" when the GOP state central committee meets to elect new party officers on May 5.

"We've brought this party into virtual parity with the Democratic Party," Dendahl said. "That's a record I'll proudly put on the table."

Domenici argued that Dendahl does not have "the luxury of endorsing the legalization of marijuana as chairman of the Republican Party."

"For him to stand up and endorse it, it is just going across the line," Domenici said.

Dendahl's position on drugs has been well-known for more than a year. However, Dendahl was highly visible on the issue this week, appearing at a Santa Fe news conference Monday with former Gov. Toney Anaya, a controversial liberal who was the Democrat that New Mexico Republicans most loved to bash during his 1983-86 term at the Capitol.

Anaya, along with Albuquerque lawyer Mickey Barnett, a longtime conservative activist now serving as the state's Republican national committeeman, is working as a paid lobbyist in support of Johnson's drug-reform package.

Domenici also criticized Barnett, saying, "I have said to Mickey Barnett he'd better not publicly support it because I would have the same feelings about him."

Barnett on Wednesday had no comment on Domenici's statements. But Barnett said he thought Dendahl should stay on as Republican Party chief.

"John Dendahl is doing a great job as state chairman," said Barnett, who ousted Manuel Lujan Jr., a former New Mexico congressman and former U.S. Interior secretary, as national committeeman last year.

Conservative activists associated with Barnett and Dendahl started wresting control of the state Republican Party from more moderate elements led by Domenici and Lujan several years ago.

Edward Lujan, a former state Republican Party chairman and the brother of Manuel Lujan Jr., said Wednesday he agrees with Domenici that Dendahl overstepped in espousing his personal support of drug law reform in New Mexico.

"As state chairman you follow the principles and philosophies of the party, not your own," Edward Lujan said.

Anaya on Wednesday commended Dendahl for saying he "would not use the votes on the drug bills in a partisan way in the election next year." Anaya, when he was New Mexico attorney general, ran against Domenici in 1978 for the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, Dendahl has not hesitated as party chairman to retaliate against Republicans who diverge from the party line on other issues.

Domenici noted that Anaya and Barnett are being paid by the Lindesmith Center, a New York City-based foundation, which advocates drug law reform across the country. Lindesmith is financed in large part by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

"This is not a New Mexican that's hiring Toney Anaya and Mickey Barnett," Domenici said.

Domenici said Lindesmith had "paid for a barrage of pro-marijuana radio ads that have blanketed our state."

Domenici urged state lawmakers to reject Johnson's drug-reform proposals.

"If this passes, this will make New Mexico unique in the country for legalized marijuana use," Domenici said. "I don't think that's the message we want to send."

Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Author: Loie Fecteau, Journal Politics Writer
Published: March 8, 2001
Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque Journal
Address: P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103

Related Articles & Web Site:


GOP Disavows Dendahl Remark

Poll Suggests N.M. Voters Support Drug-Law Reform

Republican Lawmaker Says Dendahl Should Resign

Dendahl's Drug-Law Support Criticized

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Comment #7 posted by Imprint on March 08, 2001 at 23:29:34 PT:

Vote the bum out!
Sen. Pete Domenici a 5 term Republican from New Mexico. Isn't there a term limit for senators? If not, then the folks in New Mexico need to vote this SOB out of office.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by dddd on March 08, 2001 at 23:21:08 PT
more from my big mouth
I think your prudent approach in avoiding the temptation to
lambast the parties involved in this article is quite wise Ethan.,,But
how do we know you are the real Ethan with that green name?

I think Robbie has hit a nail on the head again,when he says;

"This is the first signal, I believe, of what the Republican party's response to Johnson and possible drug reform might be. They are seemingly distancing themselves from the lame-duck governor."

The Republicans have a nasty problem on there hands when their own members start to
question the party line.These sort of excommunications will probably be the official policy,especially
in light of the Ashcroft factor......dddd

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by NiftySplifty on March 08, 2001 at 18:28:16 PT
Funding from whom?
Lindesmith is financed in large part by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Antis use this line so often (obviously intending to discredit any like-minded person), one would think they are saying, "...financed with money received directly from grinding up babies, as entertainment, by billionaire Lord of the Underworld, Satan."
Now that I think about it, it would fit the "protect the children" theme.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on March 08, 2001 at 17:07:04 PT:

How truly ironic
My, how definitions can change over time...

Conservative used to mean that you favored conserving individual rights and liberties against encroachment by The State. Conservatism was supposed to be the hallmark of the Republicans, represented by such people as Barry Goldwater. People who said that defense of freedom was not extremist. And that moderation in it's defense was no virtue.

And yet, we get the following from the Republicans:

"As state chairman you follow the principles and philosophies of the party, not your own," Edward Lujan said"

'Principles and philosophies of the party', eh? Principles like protecting individual rights and liberties, standing up to bullying by a non-responsive government? Principles like protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights from the over-zealous minions of The State?

Principles like following the will of the people in their desire to govern themselves? Even if it means doing something the party leadership doesn't agree with?

The Republicans have gone so far afield from the origin of their party that they sound more like their erstwhile arch opponents, the Communists, every day. And now they are threatening reprisals against those who are demonstrating those original principles?

Years ago, during the Klinton Administration, Republican partisans published a book called The Last Democrat. It was a crowing indictment of all the sordid things that had gone on (pre-Monica) under Slick Willy's tutelage. The prediction was essentially that the Democratic Party couldn't survive another such President.

Well, the Reps had best not look to their laurels, either. BBecause when foaming antis like DeConcini are considered to be 'moderates', the GOP is in big trouble.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on March 08, 2001 at 09:20:35 PT:

I am going to avoid my great temptation toward savage criticism and character assassination here, but what is being done to Dendahl on the basis of one opinion on one issue is absolutely unbelievable. Domenici is hopelessly out of touch with his own constituency. May he pay the ultimate price and be ousted from office. Maybe then he'll have to work as a lobbyist for some out of state concern.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Robbie on March 08, 2001 at 09:05:05 PT
Strange Bedfellows
I think this is the Republican response to Gary Johnson.

In general, the Republican senator of a state and a Republican governor are the closest of political allies. But here we have Domenici calling for the ouster of another in the party who is in favor of what Johnson is doing. Domenici says "Dendahl must go for agreeing with this policy." What he doesn't say is `for agreeing with our wacko Governor who advocates legalization.'

This is the first signal, I believe, of what the Republican party's response to Johnson and possible drug reform might be. They are seemingly distancing themselves from the lame-duck governor.

I am very happy with and even proud of what Gary Johnson is doing with regard to drug-policy reform. However, he is a Republican in a den of Republicanism. He's going to have as much luck breaking through the right-wing shell of the party, as any fool ramming his head repeatedly into a wall.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Rainbow on March 08, 2001 at 08:47:51 PT
"As state chairman you follow the principles and philosophies of the party, not your own," Edward Lujan said

If this is the case there would be no change. Too bad they are being challenged and their arguments are being publically berated.


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