Politics, pageantry just don’t mix

Miss Ruidoso, who became Miss New Mexico, who will represent our state in the Miss America Pageant, never lived in Ruidoso, likely never will.

With that out of the way, let's sort this all out.

Carol Henry, executive director of the Miss New Mexico Pageant, is "boiling mad," as she puts it, at the Albuquerque Journal for what she said is a mischaracterization of the status of the eligibility of Miss New Mexico Candice Bennatt to hold that title.

Candice, a former Houston girl and once cheerleader for the NFL Houston Texans, who until July of 2011 carried the title of Miss Dallas, was fourth runner-up in her bid for Miss Texas last year. She became Miss Ruidoso on March 31 this year. Then, on June 23, she won the Miss New Mexico crown.

That's okay. Don't get excited. There is nothing in the rules prohibiting a non resident from entering a local contest if it is declared "open" as the Ruidoso pageant is. Candice resides somewhere in New Mexico and is said to have been a student at University of New Mexico pursuing master's studies.

We are not even close to the crux of the story yet, but you need to know Carol Henry rejected my theory that Candice chose Ruidoso because there were only three contestants. It is more a matter of scheduling convenience, she guesses. Well, maybe. But if I want to be a community spelling champ I am going to pick a town where I'm guessing they don't spell so good. Maybe somewhere like Clovas. I'm just saying.

It is almost parenthetical to the topic to wonder why the Ruidoso contest drew only three girls, two of them non-residents. As a resident of the community I am telling you there are a lot of really good looking women and I just so happen to live with one. (Just covering my butt here.)

Here's the crux. One of the losing contestants made growling noises about the status of Candice's eligibility based on state residence.

Here's the rule on that. You have to prove you lived in the state for at least six months.

Joline Gutierrez Krueger, the Journal writer whose column was headlined "Is Miss N.M. Really a Texan?" sprinkles doubt on the Bennatt New Mexico residency. She cites "raised eyebrows" resulting from "tweets" Candice posted, and wonders why there is no record of Candice's employment or education in New Mexico.

The assertion Candice left Texas in the middle of her reign as Miss Dallas is not true. She moved to Angel Fire after losing the Miss Texas title at which time her Miss Dallas days were over.

Carol Henry said Candice fulfilled the residency requirement and her eligibility was not determined at the New Mexico level but by national Miss America officials. So what's all the howling about, she wonders.

Here's what I think. Candice may or may not have had the crown in mind when she relocated to New Mexico. If she followed the rules, who cares? She is apparently a sincere and lovely young woman whose activism in the domestic abuse arena will hopefully do some good for her cause.

May she win the Miss America crown and may she go on to a rewarding life.

Do I wish she lived in Ruidoso? Sure. It is natural to think of our community beauty pageant winners as local girls who work at the Dairy Queen or sit next to us at church or lead the cheerleading at football games. Maybe I am spoiled because I personally knew a Miss America contestant, Cindy Friesen of Carlsbad.

Reader: The fact you knew Cindy Friesen has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand!

(I know. Just doing a little bragging here.)

Ned Cantwell never won a spelling bee and apologizes to anyone in Clovis who might have been offended.

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