As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Nov. 3, 2004
The atmosphere at Fox’s Upstairs Bar & Grill was festive Tuesday night as local Republican activists toasted President Bush’s New Mexico lead and impending national victory.
Celebrating with them was a local Democrat, City Councilor David Pfeffer, whose decision to back Bush angered many of his fellow party members and constituents.
Pfeffer was sitting by himself drinking a beer and watching the results come in on Fox News.
“You know what I have in common with these folks here?” Pfeffer asked a reporter.
The fact that you support the same candidate?
“Not just that,” Pfeffer said. “They and I share the same feeling of oppression.”
Funny, the reveling Republicans didn’t seem all that oppressed as they downed their beers and ate tacos and posole at the St. Michael’s Drive nightspot. In fact, they seemed pretty happy that their party was about to cement its hold on all three branches of the federal government.
But the “oppression” of Republicans in Santa Fe, a town with a 3-to-1 Democratic registration edge — has been a constant drumbeat of the local GOP for several months. Local Bush supporters have complained loudly about the destruction of Bush-Cheney campaign signs and told anecdotes about vehicles with Bush stickers getting “keyed.”
(For the record, I’ve heard similar tales from local Democrats. Santa Fe police, meanwhile, say there was no noticeable upswing in political vandalism this year.)
“It’s that monolithic liberal mind-think you find in Santa Fe,” he said. “It’s not just a one-party system here, but lots of people in Santa Fe think it should be.”
Pfeffer compared his decision to go public with his endorsement of Bush with “coming out of the closet.”
“There was such a negative reaction,” he said. “You know, I’m not stupid. I do read. I have a right to express my own opinion without getting sneered at.”
Pfeffer, who this week purchased a full-page ad endorsing Bush in this newspaper, said the ad got two types of responses from local Dems.
“There were those who were upset and reacted with name-calling and in-your-face hostility,” he said.
But then, he said, there were those who were grateful for him taking such a stand. These Democrats, he said, reacted “with a humility in their voice.”
Pfeffer, who spoke at a Bush rally in Albuquerque this summer, said he gave his two V.I.P. tickets to two women he described as “open-minded Democrats.”
Both, he said, said they had no idea that Bush could get such a positive reception in New Mexico.
Of course both campaigns here were pretty good at making sure that the overwhelming number of people who got into their rallies would give their respective candidates an enthusiastic reaction.
Many local liberals were already angry with Pfeffer over his role in the last city election.
He admitted to proofreading a newspaper ad for a pro-development group called Santa Fe Grass Roots that was highly critical of three councilors seeking re-election. Some of those councilors characterized the full-page advertisement, which ran in this paper, as an “attack ad,” saying it contained inaccuracies concerning their council records.
The Bush endorsement only added to their displeasure with Pfeffer. Although municipal elections are, in theory at least, non-partisan, some say the endorsement cast serious doubts on Pfeffer’s re-election. His seat is up for re-election in 2006.
Will Pfeffer seek re-election? Will he formally abandon the party he says has abandoned him and join the party that has embraced him?
“That’s not on my front burner now,” he said. Pointing to the red and blue map on the television screen — which was getting redder every few minutes — he said, “Right now this is my main concern.”
For my story on the latest numbers from New Mexico, CLICK HERE