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It's really hard to take in. Continuing his recent mean-spirited barrage against his high-polling Dem primary opponent for U.S. Senate, Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez is now accusing Rep. Tom Udall (NM-03) of "endangering our national security." He's also likening Udall to Republican Senate candidates Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) and Steve Pearce (NM-02). In a campaign email (PDF) today, Chavez said:

Enough is enough.  If Tom Udall, Heather Wilson, and Steve Pearce -- our elected Representatives in Congress -- won't fight to save our labs, we will.

... Unfortunately, my 3 opponents in the Senate race -- Representatives Tom Udall, Heather Wilson, and Steve Pearce -- all had a chance to stop these cuts.  Instead, earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would strip about $400 million in funding from Los Alamos and Sandia labs.

Tom Udall voted for these funding cuts, saying it would send the labs "a message." Well, throwing people out of work and endangering our national security is not the "message" New Mexicans want to hear from people in Washington like Tom Udall.

... Our Representatives Tom Udall, Heather Wilson, and Steve Pearce should be fighting for New Mexico, not siding with Washington lobbyists and insiders. [emphasis mine]

It's one thing to criticize your primary opponent's positions, but I think this kind of over-the-top rhetoric coming directly from Chavez can only serve to turn more Dem voters against him. Chavez already has a reputation for publicly and privately trashing fellow Dems on the Albuquerque City Council, supporting Repubs and their causes and vowing to vote for Repub Sen. Pete Domenici if he ran for reelection.

Do Chavez and his campaign team really believe that using inflammatory language like this to attack one of the most highly respected and popular Dems in the state will help him in his quest for Dem primary voters? Astonishing. Not only is it wrong, it's bad politics.

Status Quo vs. 21st Century Mission
First off, where does Chavez get off claiming that Udall is "siding with Washington lobbyists and insiders" by trying to get our national labs to leave the Cold War behind and embrace a green future? The last time I looked, monied lobbyists and insiders were all for the status quo in terms of building new nuke weapons systems and clinging to old greenhouse gas-producing technologies. It's the people -- and the best scientific minds in the nation -- who are clamoring for an Apollo-like project to address emergencies related to climate change and our dependence on foreign energy sources.

We don't need a new generation of nuke weapons -- we need our best and brightest to solve what is probably our most urgent problems this century -- the severe damage being caused by dirty-burning fossil fuels and the huge price in money and lives we are paying for oil in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.

Is Plutonium Pit Manufacturing Green?
I'd  love to know how Mayor Marty squares his self-proclaimed "green" orientation and his recent pandering about nuclear weapons research and production. Do people concerned with the environment and sustainable energy generally support creating large plutonium pit manufacturing projects in their states? Do they clamor for funds to support a new "replacement" line of nuke weapons that's essentially banned by the treaties we've signed? Do they push for retaining lab funding for nuke weapons instead of using common and economic sense to try and steer the labs towards a new, critical mission of developing green technologies and researching renewable energy alternatives?

Clearly, Chavez is "green" only when it suits his political aspirations and anti-green when it doesn't.

Facing Facts
Nobody wants workers at the New Mexico labs to lose their jobs, least of all Tom Udall, who has strongly represented their interests in a balanced way for years. But it's clear that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, as well as a majority of Americans, see turning the page on an outmoded Cold War mentality as the only way to go. It's time to face facts. Today's national security, energy and environmental concerns can only be addressed by the U.S. turning green in a genuine sense -- and by generously supporting our best scientific minds to dedicate themselves to green renewable energy and tech research.

As Rep. Udall has said, he cast his vote for the budget cuts because the labs should be conducting energy research and science programs to address national security issues. It may well be the only way for them to survive in today's world. The national consensus is shifting dramatically and quickly against renewed nuke weapon production and towards a new scientific paradigm. Hanging onto the past at New Mexico's labs, as Chavez is touting and as Domenici strived for, is not wise or even tenable any longer. But you wouldn't know it by the tone and rhetoric being employed by Chavez to try and peg Udall as some kind of traitor for facing reality.

That's a very sad commentary on how Chavez hopes to win the nomination, isn't it? Fortunately, I don't think most New Mexico Dems will be buying it anytime soon.

Originally posted to barbwire on Mon Nov 26, 2007 at 07:10 PM PST.

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