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You can get a fairly good sense of how people in other parts of the country perceive New Mexico by the questions they ask about the state of affairs in this enchanted land.
In the latter 1990s, for instance, when Gary Johnson was governor, easily the question most often put to me when talking with folks beyond New Mexico’s borders was, “Is your governor really serious about legalizing marijuana?”
Some were horrified by the thought, others were downright titillated, but they all wanted to talk about it.
When Johnson’s successor took office, marijuana disappeared like a puff of smoke, and Bill Richardson’s political aspirations quickly filled the void.
“Is he going to run for president?” they would routinely ask in phone conversations and e-mail exchanges.
And when he did run for president and stumbled, friends and family, from me East coast to West and points in between, wanted to know, “What about that campaign of his? Why didn’t things come together for him?”
The extent to which those earlier preoccupations are now ancient history was driven home last week when an acquaintance on the East Coast and my brother in the Midwest posed queries about “that athletic department at your university, there,” as my brother put it.
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