Oct 21, 2007
In discussing Sen. Pete Domenici's announcement to retire in 2008, Los Alamos Republican Party Chairman Ron Dolin said his first thought was local. "This has a huge impact," he said. "Throughout his entire career, Sen. Domenici has been behind Los Alamos. He helped diversify the mission of the laboratory and has always believed in the importance of what we did - so with his retirement, we lose the only supporter we had in Washington."
Dolin said, "It's clear from Udall's actions, that he doesn't care about the lab or the workers or even the economy of northern New Mexico. From his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee, Udall (Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M.) led the effort to cut millions from Los Alamos and Sandia, which could potentially result in over 5,000 job cuts."
Marissa Padilla, Udall's press secretary responded to Dolin's comments during an interview from Washington, D.C., Friday.
"Tom Udall takes great pride in representing Los Alamos National
Laboratory and the facts speak for themselves," Padilla said. "He continues to fight for adequate funding from the Appropriations Committee, while speaking out about what must be done to maintain its future security and permanence. To suggest otherwise is patently false. This year's budget process continues to remind us that the lab will need to diversify its mission in the coming years and the Congressman continues to work with the lab to ensure this happens. Partisan, misinformed rhetoric is counter-productive in achieving these goals, and it is unfortunate that Mr. Dolin has chosen his role as partisan over his role as scientist in advocating for LANL."
Dolin went on to speak about Domenici's accomplishments, which he said include leading the effort to look at alternative forms of energy, help LANL build programs in water conservation, environmental clean-up, weather modeling, and international non-proliferation.
"The senator has done more than just build the economy of northern New Mexico through the labs - he's done a lot to work with the oil industry and the agriculture industry and I think more than any other person, he's tried to bring New Mexico into the future, even though we seem to want to go kicking and screaming."
Dolin praised the Republican senator saying even though he has been one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, and the most powerful in New Mexico, his focus has always been on solving the problems of New Mexico - unlike politicians who go to Washington and "forget about us".
"Now that Sen. Domenici is retiring, we have no advocate left to fight for us," Dolin said. "We already know Udall advocates cutting lab funding and we already know Gov. (Bill) Richardson advocates cutting lab funding in half. There are no state officials stepping up to defend the labs, and much to my dismay, there are no local officials stepping up to defend the lab."
Dolin said a former county councilor shared his feeling that there is a serious "leadership vacuum" in the region. "So who is going to fill this vacuum?" Dolin asked. "One hope is that a Democrat will step up to challenge Udall, and that a candidate with Domenici's insight and wisdom replaces him in Washington, and that our state and local officials wake-up."
On Sept. 21, Dolin co-chaired a non-partisan "Save Our Science" rally on the steps of the state capitol. Congressional delegation representatives and officials from Santa Fe and Espanola, including Mayor Joe Maestas, participated. Los Alamos officials did not attend.
Dolin challenged Udall in 2006. "I ran against Udall because I saw the attack on the labs coming and Domenici's retirement on the horizon, and I worried about who would step in," he said. "I was thinking very locally and I worried then about lab workers, their families, and the economy of northern New Mexico. I hate that all the things I talked about in my campaign came true."
Dolin said congress had a 22 percent approval rating in 2006 and, "seemed more interested in playing political games than solving problems. Their approval rating is now down 11 percent - the lowest in the history of our nation - and they're even more embroiled in partisan pandering."
As an example, Dolin pointed to a recent resolution passed by congress in which he said they wasted time condemning Turkey for something that happened in 1912 instead of solving today's budget problems. Another example is in their elevating all U.S. territory observers to full voting members of congress, which is not only unconstitutional, but will probably lead to the supreme court throwing out all bills passed in the last session, Dolin said adding, "In my opinion, this demonstrates the arrogance of a congress that has lost touch with the people it represents."
The first responsibility of a congressman is to represent his district, even if politicians in Washington believe differently, he said.
"The third congressional representative should be willing to fight to the bitter end for the people he represents," Dolin said. "If you lose, at least you lose nobly and with dignity."
Dolin said he had not planned to run in 2008 because he realized in the last race that ideas and passion are not enough to win an election. While Los Alamos and northern New Mexico are worth fighting for, Dolin said, without substantial funding, a candidate can't get the exposure needed to win. He disclosed that he has been approached by several state and federal Republican officials encouraging him to challenge Udall again.
"I am considering a second run, but it all depends on how the financial piece falls into place," Dolin said. "I plan to finalize my decision by mid-December. If I do run, my message will be very simple - I will ask people, 'Do you know someone whose job got cut because of Udall's bill or are you related to someone whose job was cut because of Udall's bill - if so - why are you voting for Udall'?"
Since the wide press coverage of his "Save Our Science" rally, Dolin is emerging as the spokesman for LANL workers. When word of Domenici's retirement began to circulate, a television station called Dolin and he said asked, "as the spokesman for LANL workers", what will the impact will be.
"We must raise awareness about the importance of the science conducted at Los Alamos," Dolin said. "The jobs of our workers and all northern New Mexico workers whose lives are impacted by LANL depend on it."