Got $500 to burn and a soft spot for the pudgy, bolo-tie wearing, diplomacy-touting governor of New Mexico? Then Unfair Park has the Saturday-night soiree for you: Some half dozen of Dallas's Latino elite are hosting a cocktail reception and campaign fund-raiser for Bill Richardson on Saturday at 6 p.m.
As a born-and-bred New Mexican, I've been wondering if the popular governor and former U.N. ambassador has a chance in hell of outshining Democratic presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Saturday's hosts -- which include local power couples Adelfa and Bill Callejo, Domingo and Elba Garcia, and Elizabeth and Enrique Villafranca -- are betting he can. (Do we need to say who these people are? A little long-winded/cumbersome, but if so: Adelfa is a prominent attorney; Domingo, a former state rep and lawyer; Elizabeth, president of Farmers Branch's LULAC chapter; and she and her husand own Cuquitas restaurants.)
Is it because Richardson is Hispanic? Well, partly. "There's certain pride in the fact that you have the first serious Mexican-American presidential contender, but he's also the most qualified," Domingo Garcia tells Unfair Park. Garcia met Richardson in the 1980s, when he was an activist working on immigration reform and the governor was a congressman. Garcia says they have a "long-standing friendship."
"I've sat down many times and had a beer with him, and he's really down to earth," says Garcia. "He has the best credentials of anyone... He knows how to deal with the worlds' bullies and get concessions." Garcia's referring to Richardson's winning the release of hostages, American servicemen and prisoners in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba, as well as more recently securing the release of an Albuquerque resident who was kept hostage in Sudan.
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The invitation to Saturday's reception includes a recent New York Times 0p-ed by David Brooks. An excerpt:
"So there I was, sitting in my office, quietly contemplating suicide. I was watching a cattle call of Democratic presidential candidates on C-SPAN. In their five-minute speeches, they were laying it on thick with poll-tested, consultant-driven cliches of the Our Children Are Our Future variety. The thought of having to spend the next two years listening to this drivel. Then Bill Richardson walked onstage. He was dressed differently -- in slacks and a sports jacket. He told jokes that didn't seem repeated for the 5,000th time. He seemed recognizably human. He gave the best presentation.
Is it possible to imagine him as a leading candidate for the nomination?
It's easy to picture him rising to the top."
And so on.
If you agree with Brooks and Saturday's hosts, or if you have an extra $500 to $2,300 (the limit) and want to shake Richardson's hand and hear what he has to say, call Valerie Chraca for details at 202-719-1398, or e-mail her. --Megan Feldman