Long-departed Marilyn Monroe had a certain wisdom about how to stay relevant in her business.
“It’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring,” she said.
Monroe wasn’t a political junkie, though she could be described as a Kennedy Democrat. She used flamboyance to elicit a crowd reaction, which can be smart strategy for an actor or an underdog candidate for public office.
President Donald Trump understands and employs Monroe’s strategy. He is the most ridiculous chief executive since George W. Bush.
Trump can maintain his style in the 2020 election. He knows he can again lose the popular vote but still get a second term. The electoral college gives him a decent chance of being reelected if he wins six or seven of the 10 swing states.
The situation is different in New Mexico. State Republicans, rudderless and weak-kneed, seem determined to be dull as they lose another election for an open U.S. Senate seat.
Two Republicans, Gavin Clarkson and Mick Rich, have entered the Senate race. The public’s reaction to them wasn’t so much as a yawn or an eye roll. Neither has a chance of beating the Democrat, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.
Republicans are so dispirited they are about to turn New Mexico into a one-party state. The irony is the Republican bench is deep, but none of its promising officeholders is running for the highest available office.
These three reluctant Republicans would make a campaign against Luján interesting:
• State Rep. Jason Harper is personable and brainy, holding a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. More important, he has established himself as a fiscal conservative who looks out for ordinary people.
Harper of Rio Rancho has been resolute in stopping regular attempts to divert money from a college scholarship program funded by state lottery proceeds. The lottery’s administrators and several other legislators have tried to eliminate the guaranteed amount of money for scholarships.
They haven’t been able to get their bad bills by Harper and his outspoken allies, such as Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo.
Harper would be an appealing candidate to independents and conservative Democrats who aren’t sold on Luján. But Harper is married with four children, and he has a career in New Mexico. By his own admission, he isn’t positioned for a statewide campaign in 2020.
• State Rep. Kelly Fajardo called on the Legislature to police itself on sexual harassment. It didn’t take long for a more comprehensive policy to be instituted at her direction.
“The complaint process contained in the current policy is a joke,” Fajardo wrote in seeking reforms. “First, it only applies to employees of the Legislature. However, female lobbyists are frequent targets of harassment, and they have no protection or recourse under the current policy.”
Fajardo of Los Lunas is cautious about spending the public’s money. But she is willing to break from her party’s conservative wing on matters of conscience. For instance, she voted to ban state-licensed medical professionals and social workers from using “conversion therapy,” a controversial attempt to change a young person’s sexual orientation.
Fajardo could ignite interest in the state election, both because of her record and the fact that New Mexico has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate. The downside is she would have to surrender a state legislative seat in a time when Republicans are in danger of losing more ground at the Capitol.
• State Sen. Mark Moores, once an offensive lineman at the University of New Mexico, is the biggest person at the statehouse and one of the more popular politicians.
His foghorn voice is almost always conservative, but Moores has challenged his own party on certain public policies.
He co-sponsored the bill that outlawed coyote-killing contests. Moores of Albuquerque said he was motivated by “yahoos” who paraded a trailer full of coyote carcasses through neighborhoods to celebrate their slaughter.
He tried but failed to pass another bill that would have required political parties to pay for their own primary elections unless they allowed independents to participate.
Allies have asked Moores to consider running for the U.S. Senate, but he’s told me it isn’t practical for him in 2020.
Everything has broken Luján’s way. He has already knocked out his toughest opponent, Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Far behind in fundraising, she quit instead of attempting a pauper’s primary campaign.
Now Republicans are primed to continue their long losing streak in Senate races.
They aren’t lacking for talent. They just can’t get it on the field.
Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at email@example.com or 505-986-3080.