Inside the Capitol

Monday, February 09, 2009

2-11 Val Kilmer Has Uphill Gov Battle

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Film star Val Kilmer just won't go away. He keeps teasing New Mexicans about his desire to run for governor. Every time we almost forget him, he comes up with a statement that sounds a little more serious.
I've probably been to 10 movies in the past 50 years so don't know Val Kilmer from Patrick Swayze other than that both are Hollywood actors and both have had ranches in San Miguel County for many years.
So I did some googling of Kilmer to find out what kind of guy he is and whether there is anything in his background to qualify him to be governor of our state.
I learned that he's gained so much weight recently that people don't recognize him. Since I didn't recognize him before, I'm even with the world on that count. Kilmer says he gained the weight for a recent movie and he now knows that after 40 it is a lot harder to take it back off. He's now 49.
Evidently he is very serious about his business. He works hard, prepares meticulously and gets totally into his part. His first love is the stage and he's recognized as one of the best in either venue. Kilmer also is a singer-songwriter and even writes some poetry.
Most people report enjoying their work with him but a few don't. Kilmer says he works well with anyone -- who is intelligent. Uh-oh. Might we have a problem here" A hard charging, overweight governor who wants people to agree with him.
There may be more similarities. Richardson had rock star status when he returned to New Mexico after serving as United Nations ambassador and secretary of the Energy Department.
Kilmer is a movie star but he also could have been a rock star. He sang Jim Morrison's part in the movie "The Doors" so well that the original band members had trouble distinguishing him from the real thing.
The actor has some New Mexico roots. A grandfather was a gold prospector in the Gila Wilderness and is buried in Truth or Consequences. Kilmer has chosen to declare New Mexico as his home for the past 25 years.
He says he isn't interested in being governor for fame or notoriety. If that sort of thing was important to him, he would have lived in Hollywood all these years.
Kilmer says he loves his state and would be comfortable representing its poor, hardworking, decent people. But will New Mexicans feel comfortable with Kilmer?
An interview with Rolling Stone back in 2003 won't help his chances on that count. The publication quoted him as saying, "I live in the homicide capital of the Southwest. Eighty percent of the people in my county are drunk."
Some New Mexicans contend Kilmer was kidding, which he sometimes does with reporters. State Sen. Phil Griego who represents the area where Kilmer lives, took him at his word and said he is welcome to leave San Miguel County.
Griego said Kilmer lives behind a gate and doesn't know his community. Since then Kilmer apparently has made an effort and says he is a responsible community member.
If Kilmer does decide to run for governor, it will be as a Democrat. He recently changed his registration from independent. That means he will have to go to the state Democratic nominating convention a year from now and get 20 percent of the delegate vote in order to get on the ballot.
And that means getting to know not only his neighbors but the rest of New Mexico. Kilmer says he has an advantage because people want to meet him. But he will have to get to the right places to meet the right people and convince them he would be a good governor.
With additional nominating petition signatures, Kilmer can get on the ballot but no one taking that route ever has won a primary election.
And he'll have to beat Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, a native New Mexican who already has raised $2 million for the race.
WED, 2-11-09

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



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