ALBUQUERQUE, NM–New Mexico's five electoral votes swung back into the Bush column Monday when George W. Bush executed 253 Las Cruces-area Democrats. With their deaths, the Al Gore-backing Democrats were declared ineligible, wiping out the Democratic candidate's narrow 252-vote victory margin in New Mexico and giving Bush the state by just one vote.
"We express great sorrow for the families of the condemned," said Karl Rove, Bush's senior strategist. "We must keep in mind, however, that these are not innocent people we're talking about here. These individuals were guilty of a variety of crimes, from vagrancy to jaywalking to reckless endangerment of pedestrians' lives through inappropriate use of rollerblades. And for these crimes, they paid a fair price."
Continued Rove: "The fact that their deaths deliver the state of New Mexico to George W. Bush, well, that's merely a happy coincidence."
The New Mexico Democrats, all of whom lived less than 20 miles from the Texas border city of El Paso, were arrested last Friday during a day-long law-enforcement sweep by Texas state troopers. A majority of the arrests were made in El Paso, where many of the New Mexicans were visiting friends or relatives over the weekend.
Asked if the executions were in any way motivated by his narrow deficit in New Mexico, Bush said, "They most certainly were not."
"All 253 individuals were found guilty in a court of law," Bush said. "They were given a fair, 30-minute trial and handed a punishment commensurate with their misdeeds. Blatant disregard for the law may be tolerated elsewhere, but not in the great state of Texas. Or states close to Texas."
The New Mexico Democrats were administered lethal injection and pronounced dead shortly after 3 p.m. in the El Paso Correctional Facility, making them the 36th through 288th persons to be put to death in Texas this year. Immediately afterward, their ballots were nullified in their home voting district of Dona Ana County.
According to Texas Department of Corrections spokesman Martin Cobb, 27 of the executed Democrats were employees of a Las Cruces software company. They had crossed the Texas border to attend the weekend-long Southwest Computer Expo at the El Paso Convention Center.
"All of the information we gathered on the Las Cruces 27 indicated that they were questionable characters," Cobb said. "Some had subscriptions to The New Yorker. A few were confirmed members of the Sierra Club. One even participated in a union-led teachers' strike a few years ago."
Despite cries of protest from families of the deceased, both the Texas Board Of Pardons And Paroles and the Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals refused to stay the executions. Rove, however, is confident that they received a fair trial.
"It was presided over by the Honorable Jacob T. Hayes, one of the most respected and experienced judges in the state," Rove said. "You're talking about a man who is a close personal friend of such esteemed figures as the governor of Florida and a former president of the United States."
Bush, who personally presided over the mass lethal injection, expressed sorrow for those executed.
"It is a tragedy that these people chose to take their lives down such a destructive path," Bush said. "Fortunately, they did not die in vain, for their deaths will serve as a deterrent to other New Mexico Democrats who are considering a similar life of crime."