During car ride to Capitol Hill, Domenici helped shape intern's career path

Caleb James
September 14, 2017 06:51 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In a way, Patrick Moore is a time machine pilot. He works as the director of the Historical Sites Division for the state. From a Santa Fe office, Moore lives in centuries past as the guardian of New Mexico's roots.


But this wasn't always his path, and it takes a little time travel to reach the precise moment everything changed.

In the late 1980s, Moore was 21 years old and an intern for Sen. Pete Domenici in his Las Cruces and D.C. offices. He didn't make a secret of his ambitions to become an attorney. One day, in the car with Domenici, Moore said his life immediately changed.

"We were actually on our way to a session. This was one of those, 'he'd talk to you.' He always found those moments to engage with people," Moore recalled. "He said, very tongue in cheek I think, he said, 'Well, what are you going to do with your life, Pat?' and I said, "Well sir, I'm going to go to law school.'

"Knowing he was a lawyer, I thought he'd say, 'That's great.' He said, 'Oh no. You should do something useful with your life.'"

Maybe it was the senator's gravitas. Maybe it was his humanity. Whatever it was, in that car traveling through time toward Capitol Hill, Moore said life looked different from then on.

"It resonated at some level to me that what the senator was about was public service," Moore said.

The very next day, Moore made a phone call and worked toward his Ph.D., a professor of public history, and finally a protector of the environment and New Mexico's shared historical spaces. Moore now works for the Department of Cultural Affairs.

"And while I was here, part of my interview was in the Pete Domenici building," Moore said. "And so when I went over to the Museum of New Mexico History I thought, 'what a circle this is."

A life changed by a car ride, and a message from time traveler to mentor:

"I thank him. I thank him on behalf of the people of New Mexico," Moore said. "It's those moments you never really realize the impact it's going to have until you can look back over time and see it."


Caleb James

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