Look, Hawaii makes some real news

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – Barack Obama’s victory produced many firsts, most of which have been discussed to death by national analysts.

One first that hasn’t been discussed is the election of a president from our 50th state of Hawaii.

President-elect Obama is more closely identified with Illinois now but he grew up in Hawaii and, appropriately enough, he used a 50-state strategy to win his election.

The 50-state strategy is controversial. Targeting winnable states is more efficient and less costly. But Obama raised more money and could hire more campaign workers than any candidate ever has.

That made possible a 50-state strategy, also used by Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean four years ago to raise big money.

It also seems significant that the Republican ticket was composed of candidates from the 49th state of Alaska and the 48th state of Arizona.

Had Gov. Richardson been selected by Obama as a running mate, that would have added the 47th state of New Mexico – an almost unbelievable coincidence.

Conventional wisdom is that both candidates on a ticket need to come from large states that offer a big pool of electoral votes as a base. Although Joe Biden is from one of the original 13 colonies, Connecticut has a relatively small population.

So much for the big state theory. Not only can a black man now win the presidency in the United States, and maybe even a woman soon, but candidates from small states also have a chance.

Hispanics also overcame the conventional wisdom that their voter turnout marginalizes any advantage their increasing numbers might produce.

Gov. Richardson and other Hispanic leaders have tried for years to increase Hispanic voter turnout.

This year it worked despite worries that Hispanic and black communities have seldom worked well together.

This year, for the first time, Hispanic voters comprised a slightly higher percentage of the vote than their percent of the population. It was a blow to Republicans who have become branded as anti-Hispanic because of their positions on immigration.

Hispanics were the major factor in providing the Democratic margin of victory in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Florida, all states that Republicans won four years ago.

There are signs that without changes in views toward immigrants, Republicans may lose Texas and Arizona in 2012.

Obama prevailed by 15 points in New Mexico, turning the state from purple to bright blue. Hispanics’ share of the New Mexico electorate from 32 percent in 2004 to 41 percent in 2008.

McCain didn’t deserve what Republicans did to him on immigration. In previous years he fought for immigration reform in Congress. But in order to capture the GOP nomination, he had to sound tough.

Afterwards he didn’t run to the middle on any of the issues on which he previously held moderate views for fear of losing his base.

The real McCain has emerged again since his loss. He’s been gracious, funny and self-deprecating. His concession speech was exactly what one would want to hear from a defeated candidate.

Let’s hope he has many years left in his Senate career during which he can be the McCain of previous years and can exert some bipartisan leadership in the U.S. Senate.

The President George W. Bush we have seen since the beginning of the transition to an Obama administration has been the Bush of 2000, who promised to be a compassionate conservative.

He has conducted himself in a manner we expect of our president in turning over the reins of government to the other party.

This is in sharp contrast to the transition from President Bill Clinton to Bush.

There was much vandalism in the White House offices. Admittedly it followed a rancorous two-month battle through the courts over the Florida vote count.

But such actions not only disappoint Americans, the horror stories follow that administration down through the years.

Write Jay Miller at insidethecapitol@hotmail.com