History marks 2008 election

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By Carol A. Clark

Nearly 83 percent of local voters cast ballots in the Nov. 4 general election, which for the first time in history placed an African American in the White House.


On Jan. 20, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will officially become the 44th president of the United States.


In Los Alamos County, 10,922 out of 13,186 eligible voters cast ballots, according to official results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.


Statewide voter turnout came in at 68.34 percent or 815,363 out of 1,193,084 eligible voters.


Unlike some states that ran into problems and lagged behind, New Mexico’s election canvass was completed for all 33 counties by Nov. 25.


The Secretary of State’s office credited the state’s county clerks for the “efficient manner” in which they completed their county canvasses, saying their efforts allowed the statewide canvassing to go smoothly.


“I would like to acknowledge my staff for their diligence and persistence in completing this project in a timely manner,” New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera said at the time.


The state Canvassing Board is chaired by Gov. Richardson, who also ran for U.S. president but withdrew his candidacy on Jan. 10 following a year on the road and some $22 million in campaign expenditures.


“I gave this race the best I had,” Richardson said during a packed press conference in the rotunda at the state capitol. “It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.”


Richardson expressed disappointment that, “as with too many things in our world today, it’s the end of something that garners the most intense interest and speculation,” referring to the media frenzy over his resignation and their seeming lack of interest during his campaign.


Richardson initially declined to endorse any of his opponents, which included Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.


Following weeks of speculation, Richardson endorsed Obama in March, stunning many constituents because of his longtime friendship with former President Bill Clinton and his wife who was in a bitter battle with Obama for the White House.


“There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama has the judgment and courage we need in a commander in chief when our nation's security is on the line,” Richardson said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “He showed this judgment by opposing the Iraq war from the start, and he has shown it during this campaign by standing up for a new era in American leadership internationally. I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America’s moral leadership in the world.”


Obama said he was “deeply honored” to have Richardson’s support, according to the AP. “Whether it’s fighting to end the Iraq war or stop the genocide in Darfur or prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, Gov. Richardson has been a powerful voice on issues of global security, peace and justice, earning five Nobel Peace Prize nominations,” Obama said.


In November, Obama tapped Richardson for Commerce Secretary.


The Associated Press reported that to ensure a seamless transfer of power, Gov. Bill Richardson is including Lt. Gov. Diane Denish in all budget briefings until his confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, expected to occur in mid-to-late February.


“The Lt. Governor is being briefed by my staff,” said Richardson during a press conference in his cabinet room Thursday. “I’ll make the decisions, but she’s going to have a role.”


If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Richardson will vacate the office of governor with two years left in his second four-year term. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish will move into the position and during a Dec. 4 press conference, she and Richardson promised a smooth transition.


Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., was elected to replace retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and former PRC board member Ben Ray Lujan was elected to replace Udall in congress.


Angela “Spence” Pacheco was elected district attorney.


Locally, Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties was reelected to the state legislature. County Clerk Mary Pat Kraemer also was reelected. County Councilor Ken Milder lost his bid for re-election. Voters elected Vincent Chiravalle, Sharon Stover and Michael Wismer for council.


The trio were sworn in during a ceremony Saturday in council chambers. They officially join the council Jan. 1 and will be tasked to appoint someone to replace Councilor Jim West who recently resigned for health reasons.