Don’t count out Denish just yet

When she was bouncing up and down, yelling, waving her arms, feverishly trying to coax cheers from Hobbs Eagles fans back in the 60s, the vivacious 17-year-old’s dreams for the future pretty much mirrored those of her girlfriends.

Marry a great guy, have wonderful kids, be a supportive mom, live a comfortable, quiet, normal life in a nice home. It took her 45 years or so, but Diane Denish finally achieved the “quiet life” part of that American dream.

Along the way she became a New Mexico icon and came within one GOOOO EAGLES!! of becoming governor. That’s not to say Susana Martinez beat Denish by a nose in that horse race. Susana clearly won by two lengths. No, the sucker punch Denish took to the tummy occurred much earlier when Gov. Bill Richardson was scratched by the Obama administration as Commerce Secretary, the stench of New Mexico wafting all the way to the nation’s capital.

Had Richardson left for Washington, Lt. Gov. Denish would have settled into the governor’s office, had enough time to take a broom, polishing cloth and room deodorant to the New Mexico hallways of government, and, arguably, been an odds-on favorite for re-election running as an incumbent.

The schoolgirl had learned early on one’s fate is often tied to the fate of others. The admittedly not particularly athletic Denish recalls she made the varsity cheerleading squad only when the girl who beat her out found herself, as we said back then, in a family way.

So the political prodigy who parlayed a stint as cheerleader for Hobbs to cheerleader for New Mexico is now suddenly sidelined and, as she told this columnist, “tending to the garden of in-between.” That includes the Family Garden, Friendship Garden, and the Exploratory Garden. Exploratory Garden?

OK, Mrs. Denish, let’s clear something up. Your fellow Democrat Jeff Bingaman is giving up his Senate seat. Interested? Does your Future Garden perhaps include a stand of Political Plums? Will she or won’t she? Firmly planted in the Garden of Who Knows, Denish says only that she has statewide name recognition and an open mind. That’s not a “no.”

Just for fun, I asked the almost-governor to take a Dave Lettermanesque approach to the subject and give me some tongue-in-cheek reasons why she might consider a run for the Senate. Here they are.

6. It’s been tough getting used to sleeping more than four hours a night.

5. Herb thinks I’ve been hanging around the house w-a-a-y too much lately.

4. I miss getting advice from all the political couch potatoes who know how to run a campaign (if all the people who said they were going to vote for me actually voted for me, the curtains in the Mansion would have a bluish tint.)

3. I can’t wait to raise 15 million dollars. I could either run for the Senate or buy a small country.

2. Have you ever been scrambling 45 minutes late between events and changed clothes at a Dairy Queen in Eunice? Such fun and, you know, on a serious note, I miss the teamwork and campaign support effort.

And the number one reason Diane Denish, the former cheerleader from Hobbs High School who went on to run the state Democratic Party, New Mexico First, the New Mexico Community Foundation, was appointed by three different governors to prestigious positions, served as lieutenant governor — the number one reason this woman MIGHT consider a run for the U.S. Senate? Oh, we all know the standard answers. To do good for humanity, to restore sanity to government, right? No, in this spoofy mood…

1. I understand the concept of vacuuming, just not how it applies to me.

Have a nice day.