If all politics is local, Sunday night’s town hall meeting with voters in Albuquerque, N.M., provided a fresh example of how the issues topping the national conversation have their roots in community-level election dialogue.
As the NewsHour embarks on a week of reports on the battleground state of New Mexico, Ray Suarez moderated a town hall forum, sponsored by local PBS station KNME, where a panel of reporters, bloggers, professors and teachers fielded questions on topics ranging from the national — economic calamities, negative ads, media bias — to the local — rural farming issues, Spanish language media, voting registration fears and the delicate matter of how race factors into the 2008 contest.
Panelist Jeff Jones, political reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, explained in an interview that part of what makes New Mexico politics unique is how the mood of voters in New Mexico often mirrors the nation around the nation.
But town hall attendee Beverly Duran, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama who describes herself as a “thirteenth generation New Mexican,” sees more singularity to issues in the state, particularly those of race, cultural identity and the views of Hispanic voters.
“You do have Hispanics in New Mexico who have lived here generation upon generation,” Duran said. “For example, the issue of immigration … most Hispanics in New Mexico see it as completely different as opposed to, let’s say, Californians.”
“I think that race and cultural identity is something that is now hopefully being addressed.”