Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is 2010 the Year of the Woman?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Finally, a male has entered the New Mexico gubernatorial race. What if we had ended up with only women candidates in both parties?
It would have been completely out of character and contrary to New Mexico tradition. New Mexico never has had a female governor candidate, much less three of them.
And more good news for men. Col. Allen Weh is the most manly of men. He's a retired Marine with two tours of duty in Vietnam, one in Malaysia, one in Somalia, and one in Iraq. He has more medals for valor in combat than Rambo could fantasize.
And during this time, Weh founded a highly successful international air charter and leasing company which makes him a very comfortable living.
Weh also is past chairman of the state Republican Party. He guided it through two of the GOP's most disastrous elections, something Democrats will have fun with, although Republicans nationally weren't doing much better.
Although Weh's GOP leadership was the beginning of his political involvement, it gave him an opportunity to pay his dues to the party while toiling with political recruiting, fundraising and strategizing while dealing with local party officials and candidates in every county of the state.
Weh is a fighter but he is up against two of the best in his GOP gubernatorial bid. Susana Martinez is a hard-charging district attorney in Las Cruces who has fought corruption at home and says she's the one who knows how to carry the battle to Santa Fe.
And then there is Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones from Albuquerque. That name may be unfamiliar to you. But when I say she's the gutsy lawmaker who defied orders of legislative leaders not to webcast a committee meeting, you'll likely recall her.
Arnold-Jones continued putting together her equipment and turning it on while being lectured by the committee chairman and the speaker of the House that she was breaking legislative rules.
By the end of the 2009 Legislative session, several news services were transmitting live video and/or audio and the Senate had installed a TV camera to televise its floor sessions.
A number of lawmakers had been trying for years to make the legislative process more transparent by televising it to those who couldn't drive to Santa Fe, find a parking place and then a seat in a crowded committee room or the House or Senate gallery.
Those efforts were always foiled by the leadership until Arnold-Jones just went ahead and did it. Expect to see further advances in opening legislative sessions in 2010.
For awhile it appeared that former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson might make it three females in the GOP primary. But with Gov. Bill Richardson still indictment-free at this point and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish still unsoiled by the governor's problems, Wilson may stay in the private sector.
And with Denish still having clean hands, a gubernatorial bid by Senate majority floor leader Michael Sanchez appears less likely. Prevailing opinion is that He was sticking around to be first in line in case Denish took a hit.
Those of us who bring you political news had been worrying about a boring 2010 gubernatorial election campaign. But as blogger Joe Monahan puts it "Now we have Christmas in September."
Adding to the excitement is the resurfacing of former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who still has bones to pick with Weh and Wilson. If either of them were to win the GOP nomination, Iglesias might have much to say during the general election.
And then there's the wreck of the "Bloody Mary" or "Bloody Merry." Many questions remain about this houseboat accident at an Elephant Butte marina.
Gov. Richardson, chief of staff Brian Condit and state Finance and Administration Secretary Katherine Miller were aboard and quickly disappeared with two security officers.
Could this become part of the 2010 campaign discussion also?
MON, 9-14-09

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



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