Inside the Capitol

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I Gotta Be Me


Syndicated Columnist


      SANTA FE -- "I gotta be me." Gov. Bill Richardson continues to perform poorly in televised debates and on-camera interviews despite the best efforts of his debate coaches. The reason is that Richardson insists on winging it.

      I was pleased when I saw that Richardson was taking off the entire day before the most recent debate at Harvard. Here was his opportunity to consider every type of question he might be asked and come up with his best answer.

   But according to my sources, Richardson insists that he doesn't want to sound scripted. He wants to be himself. That feeling is bolstered by the knowledge that many in the media genuinely like him because he's an unpretentious, regular guy.

   But even National columnist David Broder, who wrote an entire column on how fantastic it would be if Richardson and Republican Mike Huckabee could represent their parties in the general election, is now cooling on Richardson because he's unprepared.

   It would be interesting to talk with some of the catchers he pitched to in high school and college. I wonder how many signs he shook off in order to throw his favorite pitch. Was the curve ball, with which he ruined his arm, his favorite pitch? If so, the analogy damages the straightforward image he now wants to project.

   Maybe in the end it won't matter. I'm seeing increasing evidence that the Richardson and Clinton camps are communicating. Hillary is saying nice things about Richardson. Both are issuing statements on similar issues on the same day.

   And now on June 30, Richardson issued a five-page release announcing his momentum is building in the Latino community. In that release, Richardson lists five high-ranking Latinos in the Clinton administration who have endorsed him.

   One of those Latinos, who has ties to New Mexico, told friends here that he wouldn't be able to endorse Richardson because of his ties to the Clintons.

   Now that he has endorsed Richardson, those friends are speculating that Hillary has turned over Latino organizing for her assumed general election campaign to Richardson in return for selection as vice president or secretary of state.

   Richardson caught some flak for campaigning out of state during the legislature, and especially during the special session. Since then, the criticism has quieted. But it may kick up anew if he and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish are both out of state again and leave Secretary of State Mary Herrera running the store.

   She is constitutionally next in line to take over and that makes her eligible to take actions such as issuing 500 colonel aide-de-camp certificates to campaign supporters.

   There was nothing unlawful about Herrera's action, but it did seem excessive. And when it was learned that one of those certificates went to someone on the Sexual Offender Registry, Herrera was open for a scorching.

   Her predecessor, Rebecca Vigil-Giron, has had her troubles lately too, bouncing around to different jobs and then being investigated for over-expenditures during the last year of her term.

   Vigil-Giron has been called the most political secretary of state ever. That doesn't inspire voter confidence in fair elections. But Herrera's "good will gestures" to campaign supporters, using public money for postage, may win her that title.

   Lt. Gov. Denish rattled some New Mexicans recently when news came that she is selling memberships in her cabinet for $1,000 apiece. And she's not even governor yet.

   Gov. Richardson has been widely accused of pay-to-play tactics but he never sent out a mailer advertising it. Turns out things are not as they first appeared. Denish's mailer wasn't selling department secretary positions. It was membership in a club similar to the Richardson Roundtable or the Bingaman Circle.

   Finally, Las Cruces has repaved the runway damaged by two-inch ruts three years ago by one of President Bush's campaign planes. The Air Force coughed up $603,754 for repairs, apparently agreeing it had been warned one of the cargo planes was too heavy.

MON, 7-9-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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