Domenici acknowledges secret son
Former Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, made public a long held secret on Wednesday. He fathered a child outside of marriage in the 1970s. The former politician, now 80, was the longest serving senator in the state's history and known as a family man.
(Page 2 of 2)
He has also written a number of conservative columns against policies like Obamacare and the lifting of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays for publications like the National Review Online, American Spectator and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And he serves on the board of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Domenici is the latest in a long line of politicians who were forced to reveal secret children, from one-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards to former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee acknowledged that he's the father of a 24-year-old woman after the two were seen communicating on Twitter during the State of the Union address.
Earlier this month, the daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and his family's maid died in South Carolina. Essie Mae Washington-Williams, whose mother was black, didn't come forward and identify Thurmond as her father until after his death at age 100 in 2003.
Thurmond, who was white, was an ardent segregationist for decades.
Domenici said he was sorry that he caused hurt and disappointment for his wife and other family members. He said he disclosed the situation to his family several months ago.
"I have apologized as best as I can to my wife, and we have worked together to strengthen our relationship," Domenici said.
Domenici told the Journal his son participated in the drafting of his statement, but it was unclear if the two had a prior relationship.
The Laxalts did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
In New Mexico, political leaders said they were surprised, but they doubted the revelation would negatively impact the Domenici legacy.
"It is going to make his legacy a little bit more colorful because he is not exactly the kind of guy you expect that from," said Maurilio Vigil, a political science professor emeritus at Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.
"It is surprising because he was always an upstanding type of fellow, a family man, and that was his image."
Edward Lujan, former chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said he had heard rumors about the child years ago, but "I didn't pay much attention. I didn't care. Those kinds of things honestly are between the families and has nothing to do with how he did his job."
"I don't think there was anything hypocritical about anything," Lujan said. "I admire him as much today as I did yesterday and the day before."
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said her "thoughts and prayers are with the family.
"It's a difficult time," she said, "but Sen. Domenici's work is a very separate and distinct issue. I think he's done great things for the state and I don't think anyone will ever forget the hard work and all that he brought to New Mexico."
Others weren't as strong in their defense of Domenici and sizing up how the revelations would affect this legacy.
"I'll leave that for historians and other people to judge," said former Gov. Toney Anaya, a Democrat who ran a close race against Domenici in 1978.
Associated Press writers Russell Contreras and Barry Massey contributed to this report.
RECOMMENDED: Eight open US Senate seats in 2014
Making a Difference