Delegating Denver #35 of 56: New Mexico

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New Mexico

Total Number of Delegates: 38 Pledged: 26 Unpledged: 12

How to Recognize a New Mexico Delegate: If Hawaii is the state that is the most like a foreign country, then New Mexico is the state that is most like another planet. It is an established fact that a trip to a grocery store in Española served as the inspiration for the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars: Episode IV. In many ways, the state of New Mexico is the original roadhouse where aliens from new and ancient cultures have converged to misinterpret and exploit one another's delusions in their search for bliss. Why do you think it's called the Land of Enchantment? From the ghostly Seven Cities of Cibola to Governor Bill Richardson's telepathic two-second handshakes, New Mexicans have a rich history of spinning myth into supernatural optimism, and they dress the part. They will easily be the most colorful of all the delegates in Denver. Females will wear brightly colored clothes in a bounty of mismatched patterned fabrics, all held together with a complicated truss-work of sashes. New Mexican males love the color purple, in striped or plaid shirts, tucked into a pair of well-worn Levi's. Both sexes wear their hair in bangs and are laden with jewelry. But the chunky necklaces, belts and earrings are far more than just ornaments: New Mexicans use the silver and turquoise to pick up extraterrestrial transmissions from new and ancient cultures.

Famous New Mexicans: Apache chief Victorio; hotelier Conrad Hilton; San Ildefonso Pueblo potter Maria Martinez; painter Peter Hurd; animators William Hanna and Mike Judge; writer Rudolfo Anaya; cowboy poet Baxter Black; journalist Linda Wertheimer; actors Demi Moore, Neil Patrick Harris and Adrian Grenier; LPGA favorite Nancy Lopez; 2008 Grammy winner Robert Mirabal; Beirut (band) singer-songwriter Zach Condon, the Shins (band).

Famous New Mexico Democrats: Most senior junior senator in the United States Senate Jeff Bingaman; 30th governor and 2008 presidential candidate Bill Richardson, 3rd District U.S. Representative (and cousin of Colorado congressman Mark Udall) Tom Udall.

Famous New Mexicans With Denver Connections: Uncompahgre Ute leader Chief Ouray; quantum mechanics pioneer and director of the University of Colorado UFO Project Edward Condon; Sculptured House architect Charles Deaton; Aspen songbird John Denver; United States District Court Judge John L. Kane.

State Nickname: The Land of Enchantment, The Cactus State, The Spanish State (official); The English as a Second Language State, The "Red or Green?" State, (unofficial). Population: 1,954,599 Racial Distribution: 42% white, 3% black, 1% Asian, 10% Native American, 44% Hispanic Per Capita Personal Income: $25,541 Unemployment: 7.4%


Most New Mexican Denver Neighborhood: La Alma/Lincoln Park

Most New Mexican Bar: Cherokee Bar and Grill 1201 Cherokee Street A favorite of Denver city councillors and Colorado state legislators and very close to New Mexico delegates staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Most New Mexican Restaurant: Jack-n-Grill 2524 Federal Blvd. True New Mexican green chile prepared by Albuquerque native Jack Martinez.

Best Day Trip: Mother Cabrini Shrine "Far out!," was the favorite phrase of New Mexico native John Denver, and it remains the best word to explain the New Mexican lifestyle. El Santuario in Chimayo is the perfect example of an out-of-this-world New Mexico story. In a nutshell, Don B. Abeita, a Penitente farmer, was out for his Friday-night flog when he saw a reflection on the ground, which turned out to be a spring (that dried up when a church was built on top of it), where pilgrims are still allowed to reach through a hole in the floor and eat the dirt (now trucked in from a nearby stream) for its curative powers. That kind of enchantment doesn't stop at the state border. Colorado has mojo by the fistful, and for New Mexico delegates, the Mother Cabrini Shrine is closest at hand. From the Crowne Plaza Hotel, get onto 14th Street and turn right onto West Colfax Avenue. This is Denver's most famous street; it is also U.S. Highway 40. The shrine is on this same road, seventeen miles due west. After entering the foothills, turn right onto Mother Cabrini Blvd. (It sounds big, but it's just the two-lane road up to the parking lot.) The shrine was built where Frances X. Cabrini, the first American saint, saw a reflection on the ground, which turned out to be a spring (that dried up after a shrine was built on top of it), but city water is now trucked in from nearby Golden for the curative needs of visiting pilgrims. The shrine is accessed by climbing the 373 steps that lead to a 22-foot-tall statue of Jesus at his commanding viewpoint. To the west, I-70 lies below the Sculptured House designed by New Mexican Charles Deaton. To the east, the city of (John) Denver drones on endlessly. In May of 2007, lightning struck the Mother Cabrini Shrine and knocked the hands clean off of Jesus. They have since grown back, and the pilgrimages have increased. Handily, enchantment is everywhere you look. — Kenny Be

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