Inside the Capitol

Saturday, July 05, 2008

7-11 Gov. Richardson Stays in the News

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- June isn't normally a month for politics in New Mexico but during the month since our primary elections, much has been happening.
We'll begin with Gov. Bill Richardson who has been struggling to remain on the national, and even international, stage -- and doing a pretty good job at it.
Gov. Richardson still has his eye on becoming Sen. Barack Obama's vice-presidential selection. Reportedly he has done reasonably well in polls taken at state Democratic conventions around the nation. It is very possible many were looking at him as a vice-presidential candidate all along.
Recently, Richardson has been selected by Obama to give the Saturday Democratic radio address and to appear on CBS's Face the Nation in his behalf.
Otherwise the news hasn't been especially good for our governor. He doesn't appear on the lists of the know-it-all Washingtonians who follow such things.
At the height of the presidential nomination process, foreign policy was the major issue and Richardson was being eyed seriously for the second slot.
Now we're back to "It's the economy, stupid" and the spotlight is turning toward President Bill Clinton's financial advisers, who helped bring the economy back in the 1990s.
It also doesn't help that Obama's need to court Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters doesn't fit well with Richardson's decision to endorse Obama and his subsequent placement at the top of the Clintons' purported enemies list.
Next on Richardson's list of dream jobs is secretary of state. But now, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has expressed interest in that job and there are sure to be other big names.
Richardson dropped a bomb recently when he spoke of an interest in possibly running for a third term as governor in 2014. That immediately raised the question of what happens if a Democrat wins the governor's office in 2010. Would Richardson take on that person?
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has loudly announced her plans to run in 2010 and has raised big bucks for her campaign. Would Richardson really take her on? Does he think a Democrat won't win the governor's race two years from now?
Actually, Richardson could wait until 2018 to run for governor. He'll be 70 by then but indications point to him being an energetic 70. And as we know 70 isn't too old to run for major office.
Speaking of energetic, despite a travel schedule that continues to take him throughout the nation and world on a constant basis, Richardson insists he still plans to call a special session of the New Mexico Legislature in September to consider health care.
Never mind that all lawmakers will be in the home stretch of their own reelection campaigns and won't be anxious to return to Santa Fe. And never mind that Richardson never has fared well in special sessions he has called. He's going to do it anyway.
Even though Richardson has been governing in absentia for much of the past year, he still keeps an eye on New Mexico and he's still churning out ideas.
Most recently, the governor has been voicing ideas to reduce fuel costs for state employees. He has signed an executive order directing the state Personnel Office to develop guidelines for "teleworking" and alternative work hours by July 15. Agencies then will adopt policies in September.
The governor also says he wants to increase teleconferencing, videoconferencing, mass transit and investigate buying a pool of state-owned bicycles for employees to share.
Richardson's alternatives, at least at this time, do not include "telecommuting," in which employees work from home most of the time. His "teleworking" proposal would allow state employees to work at offices closer to home than their usual workplace.
Richardson says strict policies will govern who works where and when because he wants to put the public's access to state government first. He also wants to decrease the number of state cars used for commuting.
FRI, 7-11-08

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



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