Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

1-26 Guv Makes It Official

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson has finally made official what New Mexicans have known for months. He really is running for president.
Richardson milked his announcement for as much national media coverage as a second-tier candidate could expect. He leaked it to the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday in return for a nine-page spread in Sunday's paper.
He posted his announcement on his Web site early Sunday morning, followed by a taped 15-minute interview with George Stephanopoulos that had been taped three days earlier at the governor's residence.
At the end of his show, Stephanopoulos announced that Gov. Richardson would be filing his papers on Monday. And on Monday, Richardson officially announced at his New Mexico headquarters in front of cameras from all the major national news outlets.
Thus Richardson kept his promise to announce in New Mexico while also garnering maximum media attention. It didn't help that Sen. Hillary Clinton picked the same three days for her announcement extravaganza, but at least the national media already were on the subject of presidential announcements.
Richardson says he will win the Democratic nomination by working harder than the other candidates. While it is true that no one outworks Bill Richardson, he also has to spend time being our governor. By my count, at least five of his likely opponents, including John Edwards, can devote full time to their candidacies.
Another ace Richardson may feel he has up his sleeve is a hoped-for good showing in New Hampshire. It is a state very willing to be wooed and a state perfectly willing to turn its back on a favorite if it feels it has been ignored.
Richardson has wooed New Hampshire. For the past two years, he has found any number of reasons to be up there supporting candidates, speaking, or fulfilling his duties as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. During that time, he also built a good organization in the state.
Another recent plus for Richardson's effort is that First Lady Barbara Richardson stood beside him at his announcement and made the appropriate remarks. That was a big deal because unlike his runs for Congress and governor, Barbara has not been excited about Bill's presidential ambitions.
There was her famous remark after Bill's first gubernatorial victory that a presidential run was "another life, another wife." As late as this past fall, she told me that the two had not had a discussion yet about a possible run.
So now Barbara will face many months of scrutiny and attacks on her husband. Bill says he's ready. He's been in public life for over 20 years, confirmed by the U.S. Senate twice, investigated for secretary of energy and U.N. ambassador and vetted for vice president. So he's confident he has nothing to fear.
But there's nothing like another presidential candidate's opposition research. Sen. Hillary Clinton's team is the one to watch at this point, although even the state GOP says it will go after him in early Democratic primaries.
What good it will do New Mexico Republicans for their party to undermine Richardson in other states' Democrat primaries, I don't understand. Perhaps they have more resources than they need for in-state party-building activities.
And it doesn't seem to strengthen the state GOP to boast that the governor who took 69 percent of New Mexico's vote really got trounced in other states.
It doesn't do any good for New Mexico either. We have enough trouble even convincing the rest of the nation that we exist. Having a serious presidential candidate from our state would be a feather in our cap.
I've asked friends and relatives from Texas if they were aware of partisan efforts to weaken Gov. George Bush's presidential candidacy. They said Texans were proud they might be able to boast another president of the United States.
FRI, 1-26-07

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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