Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Round the Roundhouse for state employees

RTR column for Sept07


      SANTA FE -- The 2010 governor's race is shaping up as one of the most unusual in the state's history. Never before has public polling for any New Mexico race begun over three years before the election.

      But there was good reason for the Albuquerque Journal to conduct a poll. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been an announced gubernatorial candidate for almost a year already.

      With her political career presently entwined with Gov. Bill Richardson's, as soon as the governor announced as a presidential candidate, Denish felt it important to announce that she is ready to step up anytime.

      If Richardson were to become president, vice president or were to accept a top appointment in January 2009, Denish would become governor upon his resignation. Or if Richardson were to decide to seek and win New Mexico's U.S. Senate post next year, Denish would move up to governor in January 2009.

      Actually, no politically aware New Mexican has had much doubt since Richardson and Denish first began running for their present positions in late 2001 that they didn't have plans for higher office.

      What makes Denish's early announcement for governor more exciting is that it forced Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez to tip his political hand early. Chavez has not yet announced for governor but he has formed an exploratory committee and raised some money.

      Currently Denish is far ahead of Chavez in fundraising and in statewide campaigning. Gov. Richardson, although he likes to keep a firm hand on the ship of state, has allowed Denish much latitude in promoting programs she thinks will help her candidacy and traveling statewide in her official capacity.

      Denish has not ignored any part of New Mexico, traveling to communities, large and small, on behalf of children, economic development, health care and other issues.

      The Journal poll showed Denish ahead by a 50 percent to 30 percent margin over the still unannounced Chavez. She also led in every part of the state, including in Chavez's Albuquerque back yard.

      Denish has paid close attention to all parts of the state, taking advantage of having lived in many locations. She was born in Hobbs, where her father was a leading businessman. Among Democrats, southeastern New Mexico provides Denish's biggest lead.

      She also lived in Farmington years ago, before moving to her present home in Albuquerque. She has had a home in Santa Fe ever since becoming lieutenant governor and recently has purchased a house in Hillsboro, NM.

      Yes, Hillsboro. It's an old mining town on the road over the beautiful Black Range between T or C and Silver City. I imagine I'm probably the first to reveal that information.

      I was told Diane might not be pleased for you to know it, but hey, hers is a public life and southwest New Mexico is the only area of the state where she hasn't lived. She can't ignore the good folks down there.

      *     *     *

      Many employees from the state Tourism Department will be headed to Pasadena, CA, right after Christmas to promote New Mexico in conjunction with the Tournament of Roses Parade. You'll remember that our state had a float in the parade two years ago on which the governor and first lady rode -- in a cold, pouring rain.

      Since it only rains once every 50 years or so on New Year's Day in Southern California, participants are looking forward to better weather. Gov. Richardson and Barbara won't be riding the float this year, since Bill is a presidential candidate.

      *     *     *

      Bob Johnson, of the Foundation for Open Government, died late last month. He was a familiar figure in the halls of government, although not always beloved. He often gave state and local government employees headaches over the interpretation of laws concerning open meetings and inspection of public records.

      Bob was good at his job and extremely conscientious about ensuring that the public has access to information about its government. He worked closely with the Attorney General's Office to educate state and local officials about how to comply with those laws.

      *     *     *

      Also leaving us recently was Bob Huber, a UPI reporter back in the 1960s. then in the '70s, he had a legislative reporting and analysis service. He also wrote this Inside the Capitol column for awhile.

      Bob moved to Portales in the early 1980s and wrote a humor column for the Portales and Clovis papers. He evidently dropped all his contacts in the journalism world about that time because I haven't been able to learn much more about what he had done the past 25 years.

      If anyone can fill in the details, I'd certainly appreciate it.




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