Inside the Capitol

Saturday, June 26, 2010

7-5 Minor Parties Kept Off Ballot

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Why do minor parties have so much trouble getting on the New Mexico ballot? Secretary of State Mary Herrera has ruled that the Greens and the Libertarians are not qualified parties so she refuses to accept nominating petitions from their candidates.
The reason why it is difficult to be a qualified minor party is that they can affect election outcomes. Democrats look at the elections of Republicans Bill Redmond to Congress and Gary Johnson to the governor's office as having been caused by strong Green candidates who took votes from Democratic candidates.
The Greens very likely did take some votes from Democrats. Whether it was enough to affect the elections, we'll never know. Greens say most of their support came not from Democrats but from new voters they attracted to the polls.
Regardless of the effect, it was a message to the two major parties that the presence of new kids on the block could be dangerous. The issues supported by Greens are mostly Democratic issues which Democrats weren't supporting strongly enough.
Libertarians are more often in agreement with Republican stands. They aren't as organizable as Greens but Republicans realized the possibility that they could be bitten at some point.
Consequently, a subsequent legislature made life more difficult for minor parties. If New Mexico Tea Partiers become as well organized as those in Nevada and South Carolina, they could take votes from Republicans. So far, Tea Party efforts have been within the Republican Party to take it over internally.
The main problem for minor parties in New Mexico is that not only do their candidates have to gather nominating petition signatures, the party has to also. And it is a very large number.
A party has to be fairly well organized to collect enough petitions. The Green Party is slipping. Its state convention this year reportedly was attended by only about 20 people. The leaders say that many Greens became Democrats two years to support Barack Obama, thinking he would be a major supporter of their issues. Now they aren't so sure. They are hoping some of those new Democrats come back.
The Greens are trying to get the signatures necessary to qualify as a major party but they also are filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of placing greater requirements on minor parties.
The lead lawyer in that suit is Alan Woodruff of Albuquerque, He attempted to file as a Green candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District but Herrera refused to accept his petitions,
Woodruff filed a similar suit in federal court a year ago, shortly after he was nominated as the Libertarian candidate for Congress. Woodruff says the court declared some portions of the New Mexico election code unconstitutional but without a final ruling.
The result is total confusion. Rick Lass, a Green candidate for the Public Regulation Commission in 2008, polled enough of the vote to qualify the Greens as a major party. But instead Herrera de-certified the party because it didn't meet other requirements.
Woodruff argues that Herrera didn't meet the requirements of the law before de-certifying the party. Efforts to mediate the confusion have been unsuccessful.
Herrera's actions likely are what the state Democratic Party would like to see and they also help her personally. She has refused to accept the filing of Terry Mulcahy, the Green Party candidate for secretary of state.
Woodruff says his suit isn't just about getting on the ballot. It's about the principle that voters are entitled to choices, which should not be limited by unfair rules.
Yes, you read correctly that Woodruff has been nominated for Congress by both the Libertarian and Green parties. He's also been endorsed by the American Reform Party and the New American Independent Party.
And no, a candidate cannot run under the banner of two different political parties. That has been tested by a candidate who wanted to be on the ballot twice and add his votes together.
MON, 7-05-10

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

I will be in Las Crucesnext 4 days. Back on Thurs. Will have my computer and cell phone: 505-699-9982.

Friday, June 25, 2010

7-2 Fate of the Declaration Signers

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Why does America celebrate its independence on the 4th of July? Mainly because it works.
It isn't the day we achieved our independence. That was November 3, 1783. It isn't the date of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. That was over a year before July 4, 1776. And it isn't the date of the last decisive battle.
We chose the day the Declaration of Independence was signed because that was a magical moment that unquestionably led to the foregone conclusion of American independence.
Or so the story goes. Actually, it was much more difficult than that. Members of the Continental Congress seriously debated whether there was much chance of winning a revolution against the crown.
The rebels had a rag tag army, not much of a navy and no alliance with any country that could be of help.
But the decision to proceed was made and most of them signed a document pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to each other. They knew they were guilty of treason and, if captured, were likely to be hanged.
Were it not for some free lance help by European military officers such as Lafayette, von Steuben, de Kalb, Rochambeau, Kosciuszko,Galvez and others, they would have been in serious trouble.
For the past several years, friends have sent me an essay describing the fate of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, suggesting that I use it in a July 4th column. Somehow the fate of the signers seemed too grim to be accurate.
So, this year, I googled "Declaration of Independence signers" and quickly learned that the essay has made quite an impact. No authorship is claimed but it appears to be a rewrite of an essay by Rush Limbaugh, Jr., father of the radio personality.
The fates claimed for the 56 signers all had grains of truth but all were considerably overstated. Nine of them did die during the Revolutionary War, but none of them at the hands of the British.
Many did have their homes ransacked, vandalized and occupied by the British but that was because they were in the path of the war. Theirs were mostly big homes that were likely targets for both sides to use as local headquarters or plundered for supplies.
Many lost much of their property and had to sell assets after the war in order to cover debts but none of them died in rags, as claimed.
In short, all the signers took a huge risk and had every reason to believe that they might well be hanged. Today we should all take time to honor their courageous act. And we also should honor all the colonists who endured hardships and losses, including loss of life, in the cause of the revolution.
The actual stories of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence are sufficiently compelling without embellishment. In our comfortable society of today, it is difficult to imagine the hardships they all had to endure. We easily could call that "our greatest generation."
Biographies have been written for all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I'm sure they are all good reads. I got much good information from "Adopted Son," by Roswell's Dave Clary, describing the friendship between Gen. George Washington and the young Marquis de Lafayette. These other characters also appear.
This also is a good day to pick up the Declaration of Independence and read it again. It is a brilliant and inspired argument for overthrowing tyranny that captured imaginations not just here but in Europe and the rest of the Americas.
Upon winning our independence, we became the world's first revolutionary power, making us the oldest revolutionary government on earth, with the oldest written constitution.
Americans have much to be proud of on this day. Let us not forget the sacrifices of our forbearers to obtain freedoms we now sometimes want to limit.
FRI, 7-04-08

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


Thursday, June 24, 2010

6-30 The Politics of Route 66

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- A recent column mentioned the politics of Santa Fe being on, then off, Route 66 in the early days of the road. I admitted most of my information came from old timers reminiscences and invited readers to help straighten me out.
And did I ever get straightened out about how Route 66 got straightened out. Every reader I heard from added something to the story.
Here's how it all seems to come together. In 1926, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads mapped out a national highway system by cobbling together a maze of existing roads, most of them unpaved. They were pulled together to become highways designated by specific numbers.
All across the nation, states and towns clamored to get the highway system to pass through their areas. The politics everywhere was big time because it meant increased commerce.
Route 66 came into New Mexico from the east, passing through Tucumcari and Santa Rosa. Seven miles west of Santa Rosa the road ended its western path and headed north along present Highway 84 almost to Las Vegas. There it turned west again to Santa Fe.
Some accounts say Route 66 circled the Santa Fe plaza. Another source says it turned a block short at Water Street, headed west to Cerrillos Road and south from there, down the treacherous La Bajada Hill to Albuquerque.
The highway entered Albuquerque on 4th street. Here again, there is disagreement. Some accounts say it turned right on Central Avenue and headed West again.
Others say it continued south to Los Lunas and then angled northwest along the route that now is State Road 6 to join the existing road 25 miles west of Albuquerque.
Another road headed east from Albuquerque to Moriarty. But there was no effort to connect Moriarty to Santa Rosa because Santa Fe politicians wanted the road to come through their city. The detour added some 90 miles and four hours to the trip across the state.
Gov. A.T. Hannett saw the need for connecting Santa Rosa and Moriarty and continued to press the subject at his own political peril. He was defeated for reelection in November 1926 and he blamed the Santa Fe politicians and business community.
As revenge, Hannett marshaled all the equipment and personnel of the Highway Department from throughout the state during his last month in office.
Crews worked from both ends of the 69-mile stretch. They worked double shifts through snow, bitter cold and some sabotage. They didn't even take off for Christmas day. And they finished.
According to one story, the crews ended up with a couple of extra days. The new governor, Richard Dillon, sent his new engineer to stop the construction on Jan. 1 but the weather was bad so he didn't get there until Jan. 3, just in time to see the road opened to traffic.
Dillon was so impressed by the achievement that he kept all the laborers on the state payroll. Those were the days when a new administration meant a total turnover of employees.
Even though Route 66 has been replaced by the Interstate system, it still is celebrated as the Mother Road that brought Midwesterners to the Promised Land of California. It is claimed to be the most fabled highway in the world.
And it refuses to die. The Route 66 Association of New Mexico is holding its first-ever Route 66 Motor Tour of New Mexico, July 23-25. Each community along the way will join in the festivities with car shows, live music, vendors, entertainment and food.
The event is not a race. Participants are free to stop wherever and whenever the mood strikes. All types of vehicles are invited -- autos, motorcycles, travel trailers, bicycles, classic to contemporary.
The tour begins in Tucumcari July 23 with registration, then heads west, ending in Gallup on July 25, with Indian dances, prizes and awards.
More information and registration forms can be obtained by calling 505-831-6317 or by visiting
WED, 6-30-10

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


6-28 What a Difference a Year Makes

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- One year ago, in June 2009, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was sitting in the catbird seat. She had announced for governor over two years earlier and had already raised over $2 million.
A poll had just been published by Harstad Strategic Research of Boulder, Colorado, showing Denish leading both Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson by identical 57-35 margins.
Pearce and Wilson were both well-known to voters statewide, better known than Denish, in fact. Both had given up their U.S. House seats to seek the Senate seat of the retiring Pete Domenici.
Pearce won the statewide Republican primary and then lost to New Mexico's other House member, Tom Udall, in the general election. Both Pearce and Wilson had indicated interest in running for governor in 2010 and both were considered strong candidates.
Life couldn't look rosier for Denish. But recently-elected state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. had other ideas. By July, the whole picture started changing.
Pearce announced that he would seek to reclaim his former 2nd Congressional District seat. Wilson announced she was very busy with her consulting business and wasn't sure if she would run for anything. A few months later she made it official. She was staying out.
And, in that same month of July 2009, Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez announced her candidacy for governor. No one gave her much of a shot. She was almost unknown outside her county.
What was she even doing in the race? Well, apparently she was getting a lot of help. By March, Martinez crushed her four opponents at the state GOP nominating convention.
That came as a big surprise to this writer who had predicted convention victories by Republican Allen Weh and Democrat Brian Colon because they were the immediate past state chairmen of their parties. The prediction was accurate for Colon but Weh got trounced.
How could Martinez have had a full time job as district attorney while rounding up delegate votes all over the state? Allen Weh already had visited every county in the state by last fall.
That momentum continued for Martinez through the GOP primary. Donations rolled in , especially from Artesia, home base for state GOP chairman Yates.
And when Weh tossed in another $250,000 of personal money at the end of the campaign, a check for $450,000 arrived at the Martinez camp from Texas developer Bob Perry.
Martinez was getting some major league help, including a declaration from top state GOP leadership that Weh's television ad about Martinez was not true while Martinez's ad about Weh was OK.
So what appeared a year ago to be a bed of roses for Lt. Gov. Denish has evolved into a very thorny problem today. It appears state GOP Chairman Yates has done some masterful strategizing in order to find and promote a strong candidate against Denish.
Yates, likely with much help from national Republican advisers, recognized the nation's desire for fresh faces and change. Barack Obama's 2008 victory was startling for a candidate with a foreign name and scant experience.
Obama is now old hat but voters' desire for fresh faces and change still is very much alive. A year ago Denish was a fresher face than Pearce or Wilson. But Martinez has turned the tables. She became the fresh face and she appears to still have her momentum.
Yates began building that momentum a year ago. At the same time Martinez announced her candidacy, Yates began a series of blistering attacks on Denish, tying her to Gov. Bill Richardson and the state ethics scandals.
When Richardson was at the height of his popularity leading up to the biggest margin of victory ever in 2006, the GOP effort had been to make Denish look independent of the governor.
But with Richardson's popularity dipping, Yates began tying her to Richardson as closely as possible. Ever since then, it has become the Richardson-Denish administration.
What a difference a year can make.
MON, 6-28-10

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


Monday, June 21, 2010

Revised 6-23 Kid's Pardon a Publicity Stunt

SANTA FE -- I recently wrote of Gov. Bill Richardson's request that I sample public sentiment concerning a pardon for Billy the Kid. Thus far, the sentiment has ranged from excitement to disgust. The following example of the latter was received from Dr. Gale Cooper, author of "Mega Hoax: The Strange Plot to Exhume Billy the Kid and Become President."

In the good old days (1878-2002), Billy the Kid aficionados had only one problem: to decide if he was an outlaw or a rebel with a cause.
In 2003, everything changed because of Gov. Bill Richardson's quixotic scheme to hijack Billy's history as a publicity stunt for his planned presidential run; and as an apparent favor for his major donor, Attorney Bill Robins III, an Old West buff seemingly attached to pretender "Brushy Bill" Roberts (two years old at Billy's death).
Called the Billy the Kid Case, the stunt was a real murder investigation filed in Lincoln and De Baca Counties against Pat Garrett. Why? Garrett was accused as the murderer of an innocent victim instead of Billy, on July 14, 1881, to fill the Fort Sumner grave. Why? Because "Pat Garrett did not kill Billy the Kid" grabbed headlines. Was it true? No. Billy's corpse had enough eye-witnesses (including coroner's jurymen) to rival Abraham Lincoln's lying in state.
So the endeavor was actually the most elaborate historic-forensic hoax ever perpetrated. And in its seven years, it produced no evidence to contradict established history. But it made great sound bites like: "Why are they so afraid of the truth?"
What was done? As the country's only governor selling his state's iconic history for a bowl of political porridge, Richardson - with recruited lawmen and with Bill Robins III appointed as the attorney bizarrely "speaking" for dead Billy - sought to exhume Billy and his mother to "compare DNA."
Omitted for the public was that their grave sites were just tourist markers, and the state Medical Investigator refused digging permits based on silliness. So legal opposition in Silver City and Fort Sumner stopped that phase.
But it did not stop hoaxers' digging. TV programs and a movie were at stake. So backhoed were Arizona pretender, John Miller, and a random man buried beside him, William Hudspeth, to compare their DNA with alleged DNA of Billy the Kid.
Where did the hoaxers get Billy's DNA? Creatively fabricating, they claimed acquisition of Billy's blood from a carpenter's bench on which Billy was allegedly laid out (abandoning their "innocent victim" ploy, and floating humorously that Billy had merely "played dead.") Flashy forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee, used to swab the bench, and under American Academy of Forensic Sciences Ethics Committee investigation, denied making any conclusions attributed to him by the hoaxers.
What happened to the "DNA matching results?" They are concealed by the hoaxers; even defying a three year open records case. Why? Apparently the "results" are of fake Billy-bench-DNA matched to random man William Hudspeth's (no DNA came from John Miller)!
So if there is a living Hudspeth relative reading this: Congratulations; you and your chosen attorney just won the death lottery for his indignity. And you – and he – are now part of Billy the Kid history.
What about "Brushy Bill" Roberts's bones? In 2007, local officials laughed the hoaxers out of Hamilton, Texas: location of his gravesite.
Gov. Richardson is now in the last gasp of his hoax: pardoning Billy. Or is it Billy? As Attorney Bill Robins III states in his exhumation petitions: "he" deserves a pardon for having led a "long and law-abiding life" as "Brushy Bill." Real Billy had a short one. And law-abiding was not his strong suit.
The only pardon in question, is whether New Mexicans should pardon Bill Richardson for seven years of using their taxpayer dollars for sheriffs' departments, district courts, and public attorneys to oppose open records act requests in an attempt to give to Texas New Mexico's Old West Billy. And, ironically, Richardson wants to schedule his pardon charade during the October balloon festival. So there can be hot air in two places at the same time.


The only revision is at the end of the first paragraph, which is my introduction to the rest of the column that is written by Dr. Cooper.

6-25 Political Surprises Ahead

SANTA FE -- If you like political surprises, you should love the next six months of the 2010 campaigns.
Sure, attack ads will fill the air. They've already started in the gubernatorial race and we will be able to add the 1st and 2nd congressional district races to that soon. But expect some almost unpredictable twists also.
Remember the last gubernatorial race in 2006? Gov. Bill Richardson was sailing toward his second term when Republicans suddenly switch horses after they already had nominated Dr. J.R. Damron as their candidate. That was an all- time first
Former state GOP Chairman John Dendahl didn't do any better against Richardson but he made more noise. And then Dendahl left the state after losing.
Dendahl warned that pay-to-play was worse in New Mexico than in any other state. That was a term not in general usage at the time. Now it turns out Dendahl may have been right.
It appears the U.S. attorney's investigation of pay-to-play in New Mexico will not result in prosecution. But a similar investigation in New York state is resulting in some mentions of New Mexico. Will anything come of that?
Gov. Richardson appears firmly settled on the fourth floor now for the rest of his term but word still floats in the halls of state government that something is still afoot.
If for some reason Richardson does leave before the end of his term, Denish becomes the incumbent and gains some likely advantage. She will have at least a little time to show what she can do -- or can't do. It could be a disadvantage. Claims by a few politicos that they already have been interviewed by Denish for cabinet positions add to the conjecture of an early Richardson departure.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Susanna Martinez surprised most political observers with her strong showing at the state GOP convention in March and then continued her spectacular climb through the June primary. Will that momentum continue now that she encounters a well-prepared and well-funded Lt. Gov. Diane Denish?
Being new at running for statewide office, Martinez could stumble or be weak on issues other than crime. It appears as though she is being heavily advised and is capable of taking the coaching better than John McCain's people were able to do with Sarah Palin.
Teaming two Hispanic Republicans will be a completely new experience. Democrats tried it once, with Fabian Chavez and Mike Alarid, and it didn't work. The Cook Report, a national handicapper, calls this contest a toss up.
Many state employees are worried by Martinez comments that government has grown by 5,000 employees since the Johnson administration. Does that mean she will cut 5,000 employees? Actually, some 3,000 employees are said to have been cut already by the hiring freeze that has been in effect since November 2008.
Feelings are running high enough that the State Personnel Office, for the first time in awhile, has issued a memorandum to all state employees reminding them of state laws and administrative codes that prohibit political activities while at work. Evidently some employees had used state computers to pass along concerns that Martinez would start slashing state jobs if she becomes governor.
The reality of the alleged 5,000 additional employees is that this isn't necessarily more people sharing the same amount of work. Every year the Legislature passes new laws and regulatory agencies pass new regulations creating additional functions of state government. Those new laws and regulations require additional employees to administer them.
Originally public safety, education and transportation were about the state's only concerns. Since then, the state has become involved in many hundreds of other areas in our lives. Each time we see a new special interest group form, we see efforts for new legislation to provide state services to that group.
In this time of financial distress, wouldn't it be nice for state government to surprise us by taking a look at all those new services?

FRI, 6-25-10

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


Sunday, June 20, 2010

6-23 Kid's Pardon a Publicity Stunt

First paragraph is my words so perhaps should be in italics.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

6-21 A Pardon For Billy?

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson still has Billy the Kid on his mind. This time, instead of trying to dig him up, he's wanting to pardon him for his sins.
The governor invited me to his office a few months ago to ask if I would help him gauge public opinion, especially among the Billy community, about his project.
It seemed harmless enough. There are an extensive number of Billy fans stretched around the world. When I was writing columns on the attempted exhumations back in 2003-4, replies came from England, Iraq, Australia and many other far-flung places.
From them I received replies that the pardon seemed like a good idea if it would involve a panel of experts addressing the subject in a dignified and scholarly manner so that the conclusion would be respected.
Most Billy fans want to see the pardon granted that Gov. Lew Wallace promised but never got around to addressing. They saw Billy as a freedom fighter against the Santa Fe Ring and its Lincoln County operatives.
Numerous historians cautioned that any pardon consideration must be based on the information Gov. Wallace had at the time. Billy had not yet shot the two deputy sheriffs during his famous jail break.
Then there were those of us who wanted to increase the tourist traffic to New Mexico. Billy ranged over nearly all the state except the Four Corners area.
But as word spread from the historians, bloggers and fan club chairmen I originally contacted, responses became more negative. History is history, some in that business said. It happened. Get over it.
And then there were those to whom it wasn't about Billy the Kid. It was about Bill the Governor. This was just some more grandstanding to give him a little bigger place in history.
Historians weighed in again, producing information indicating Wallace's failure to pardon the Kid was not just an oversight caused by paying too much attention to writing Ben Hur. Wallace had no intention of pardoning Billy.
A conversation between the two took place in Squire Wilson's home in Lincoln but no written agreement was made. Wallace is said by some to have felt that Billy didn't carry out his end of the bargain. And others say Wallace was pressured by the Santa Fe Ring not to pardon Billy.
Whatever the case, much argument among the experts still remains with very little time to do it. Gov. Richardson's term ends in just over six months.
It is unfortunate this conversation couldn't have begun seven years ago when Richardson first expressed interest in Billy the Kid. He said at the time he would like to consider a pardon.
There are even those out there who fear that Brushy Bill Roberts may be brought into the picture as really being Billy who led a long and law abiding sife following his non-death in Fort Sumner and, therefore, should be pardoned. Former New Mexico Gov. Tom Mabry considered that pardon 60 years ago and refused.
The above information has all been submitted to the governor's office. As more comes in, it is sent along. Apparently no firm decision has been made yet.
There is still time for my dear readers to weigh in with their opinion. Please send them to Letters to 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505 will work. Telephone calls are difficult to forward -- and for a guy well into his 70s, they sometimes are hard to report with precision.
The next column will be a reply I received from Dr. Gale Cooper, who helped me so much with the research for my book "Billy the Kid Rides Again: Digging for the Truth."
She has now written several books of her own on Billy. Her column will be a review of her latest book "Mega Hoax: The Strange Plot to Exhume Billy the Kid and Become President."
In the guest column, she makes the argument that the pardon trial should not be conducted.
MON, 6-21-10

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


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6-18 Martinez Faces Challenges

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- It turns out Susana Martinez grew up in El Paso. That shouldn't be a political handicap. We native New Mexicans sometimes tend to be a little provincial but we have a record of electing governors who weren't born here.
Gov. Bill Richardson certainly wasn't from these parts. I'm not aware of him ever having been in the state until four years before we elected him to Congress. In fact he gave U.S. Rep. Manuel Lujan the closest race of his life only two years after arriving in our state.
Former Gov. Gary Johnson wasn't born in New Mexico and neither was Dave Cargo. And U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman was born in El Paso. So Martinez should be in decent shape with "birthers.".
Besides, Martinez is a good Northern New Mexico name. A great many families in the North trace their linage back to the original settlers who came here with Onate over 400 years ago.
The Santa Fe Fiesta Council has even compiled a history of the city's original family names. Martinez is in there. So is Sanchez, the surname of the GOP's lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, John Sanchez.
As for the novelty of being an Hispanic Republican, any family that has been in the state longer than a few generations knows Hispanic Republicans weren't a bit unusual until the 1930s.
Perhaps somewhat strangely, Colon, the surname of the Democrats' lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, Brian Colon, isn't an old New Mexico name, even though it was the name of the founder of the Americas, Cristobal Colon.
So all this puts the Martinez-Sanchez ticket in better shape to win some Hispanic vote that Republicans haven't been accustomed to winning for the past 80 years.
The ticket also may be in a position to get a lot more national help than state gubernatorial tickets normally get from Washington. If Martinez can keep her polling numbers up, she will attract some real national interest.
Some prominent Republicans insist she even attracted that interest in the GOP primary. That was the reason, reports indicate, that she got the last-minute $450,000 check from Texas developer Robert Perry and the endorsement from Sarah Palin.
Blogger Joe Monahan reports that Martinez already has been to Washington since the election to visit Republican heavyweights. The GOP hasn't fully recovered financially from the beatings it took in 2008 but it can get her hooked in with the right people.
Martinez and Sanchez still face a tough battle, however. Lt. Gov. Denish and Colon start with a big campaign cash advantage and they both are proven fundraisers.
Martinez, so far, has been essentially a one-issue candidate, about whom voters know very little. She has to quickly flesh all that out herself before Denish does that for her. With the money to do immediate advertising, Denish can start defining Martinez in ways that won't be flattering.
With a long background in politics, Denish knows the issues and can address them fluently. Martinez will have to study hard on those issues in order to catch up.
Another problem Martinez faces is that even though state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates has been a strong leader, the state party itself still faces the fractures it long has endured.
Second-place finisher Allen Weh did not provide the usual election-night endorsement of the winner. The state GOP election night party was attended by only one of the five gubernatorial candidates, fourth-place finisher Pete Domenici, Jr.
The unexpected action of the state GOP leadership announcing a week before the election that a Martinez television ad was truthful, while a Weh ad was dishonest is not a wound that will heal anytime soon.
Martinez is a fresh face in statewide politics. Voters in the 2008 presidential election and in this year's primaries throughout the nation have indicated they like that quality more than ever.
Can that overcome enough problems in order to win?
FRI, 6-18-10

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


Monday, June 14, 2010

6-16 Campaigns Will Stick to Small Stuff

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The 2010 New Mexico gubernatorial campaign will be waged primarily over little hot-button issues rather than the big issues our state faces.
Don't blame the governor candidates. And definitely don't blame the fact they both are women. They have positions on the major issues.
But it's just human nature to obsess over the small stuff rather than worrying about how to create more jobs or how to get all parents more involved in their children's education.
Of course, the costliest item is the state budget, the only product the Legislature is required to produce. The big factors there are public schools and universities, state employees and Medicaid. Lawmakers have tried to stay away from those subjects and the governor candidates probably will too.
Retirees who return to work while drawing a state pension are a favorite target of candidates but they don't have a major impact on the budget The next governor likely will be cautious about hiring double dippers but it will still consume a disproportionate amount campaign discussion.
The number of state employees will receive much discussion also. A recent study showed New Mexico ranking third per capita. Five out of the top six were states with small populations spread over a wide area. The only surprises were that Alaska was second and not first and that New York was fifth instead of way down the line.
Much has been said about the thousands of state jobs that have not been filled since the November 2008 hiring freeze. But a recent newspaper article told of an increase in state employees. That is something that does need discussed.
I'm going to predict that with all the focus on hiring and layoffs, candidates are going to start looking at nepotism as a serious problem.
Gov.. Bill Richardson's jet will get campaign hits, especially because Lt. Gov. Denish rides on it sometimes. Unsuccessful GOP governor candidate Allen Weh suggested he'd take his pickup when he traveled the state.
That wouldn't happen. Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers loved to tool around in his little Thunderbird convertible but his police security wouldn't hear of it. But sometimes he would sneak out. Then it looked like a Keystone Kops episode as the governor tried to evade them.
Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones gave me her analysis two years ago. She said the jet Gov. Richardson bought was designed for out of state trips. Flying instate, it never reached peak efficiency.
The governor needs a plane. Otherwise she will spend way too much time on the road. How about a smaller, less costly one?
We talked about the little issue of firing and hiring political appointees recently. Every governor has fired all the old ones and then hires his own.
The only way to save money is to hire fewer political appointees than the previous governor. Since Richardson was the all-time champ, that won't be hard. But the only savings is the difference in number of political hires.
I mentioned in my previous column on political hires that until the State Personnel Act was passed in the mid-1960s, all employees were political hires There was nearly a 100 percent turnover between administrations.
During the 1950s and early '60s, there were six changes from Republican to Democrat governors. Terms were only two years in length back then and Republican Ed Mechem ran every time he could.
Reader Mick McMahon tells me that in some communities, most notably Las Vegas, there were two sets of state employees. Depending on the gubernatorial election results one set would get state jobs and the other set would go on welfare.
Las Vegas had many jobs with a state hospital, a regional highway department and a large welfare office.
Public schools were over 20 years ahead of the state. School superintendents got a tenure law passed in 1941 that prevented school new board members, elected every two years, from dictating which teachers got hired and fired.
WED, 7-16-10

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


Thursday, June 10, 2010

6-14 Firing and Hiring Political Appointees

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- If I'm elected governor, I'll fire every single political appointee." Sound familiar? You've likely heard that promise from every single gubernatorial candidate for almost a year.
We're down to only two candidates now and this is one campaign promise you can expect either of them to keep. Governors always do. They want their own trusted individuals around them, not the former governor's buddies.
How would you handle it if you were the incoming governor? Wouldn't you want your most trusted associates at your side to help implement your initiatives?
So before your term even begins, you would send a form letter to all your predecessor's appointees thanking them for their service and advising them that if they are interested in further employment with the state, go stand in line at the personnel office.
And then you start hiring your own staff of exempt employees. But one word of caution: don't go overboard. You'll need an office staff and a slew of cabinet secretaries and some sort of executive assistant for each.
But resist the temptation to put hundreds more on the payroll no matter what the reason. Bill Richardson may have gotten the idea in Washington, D.C., which has many thousands of such jobs, advertised at the beginning of each administration.
It is known as the Plum Book. The ones I've seen are even plum colored. The message is that they are plum jobs.
The Plum Book was created by President Eisenhower back in 1952. After 20 years of Democratic control of the presidency, Republicans weren't sure which were the patronage jobs and which weren't. The practice has continued every four years since then.
With a good personnel system now in place, New Mexico doesn't need a Plum Book. Its personnel office knows who the classified personnel are. It should also know who the exempt employees are but it claims not to keep such records.
And apparently neither does anyone else. Otherwise we would know the identities of the 59 political appointees that Gov. Bill Richardson told the Legislature he was cutting from the state budget.
Gov. Richardson did release a list recently showing 22 exempt jobs that have become vacant since he made his promise of cutting 59 appointees.
But that list isn't like federal Plum Book jobs. These 22 jobs may not be filled by the next governor. It is up to each governor to decide what and how many political appointees are needed.
Or maybe it depends on how many political friends need jobs. Do you know of any friend of Bill who has been denied a job?
A few governors have retained cabinet secretaries or other exempt employees from the previous administration. But even when transitioning from one Democratic administration to another, few appointees are kept.
This was evident in December 2008, when it appeared Gov. Richardson was headed to Washington. Early in that month Lt. Gov. Diane Denish mailed a letter, reportedly to all exempt employees, notifying them that their service to the state would soon end.
Except where did she get that list?
It is possible to promote from within and not hire any political employees. But that often involves requiring classified employees, protected by the personnel act, to give up those rights in order to receive the promotion, higher pay and the risk of being fired immediately.
That seems to always be true of cabinet secretaries Governors just don't seem to like giving orders to someone they can't fire on the spot.
And there's another little trick. A political appointee can transfer into a classified position at the end of a governor's term. The catch to that on is that it takes a year to get out of probationary status.
All these political jobs may sound a little corrupt. But until the personnel act came along in the early ''19'60s, everyone was a political appointee.
Imagine the mischief that produced
MON, 6-14-10

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


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

6-11 We Should Reward Good Behavior

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Last week a truly amazing event occurred in the world of sports. Detroit's Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game. He threw to the minimum 27 hitters and didn't let anyone get to first base. It had only happened 20 times previously in the 134-year history of Major League Baseball.
There was only one catch. Umpire Jim Joyce called the final batter safe at first. Baseball doesn't have instant replay as pro football and basketball do, so the decision stood.
Fans screamed. So did the Detroit manager. But that doesn't change things. And what was Galarraga doing? He was standing calmly on the mound, readying himself to retire the next hitter.
We have come to expect far less of professional athletes. John McEnroe's and Kobe Bryant's fits of anger are now the norm.
And what did the umpire do? When he watched video of the play after the game, he admitted he blew the call, cursed himself and went to find Galarraga and apologize for costing the kid a perfect game. Galarraga replied that no one is perfect -- although he had been that night.
It was an amazing action on the part of Jim Joyce too. Umpires are never wrong. Players and coaches can be thrown out of a game for questioning them.
And what of Major League Baseball itself? Stuck in 19th century tradition, Commissioner Bud Selig refused to reverse the call despite its injustice.
To top it all off, the same two teams played the following night and Joyce was the home-plate umpire. Managers deliver their lineup cards to home plate before the game. But who delivered the Detroit Tigers' lineup? Armando Galarraga. And the Detroit fans cheered.
There is no telling what will happen with Galarraga in the future. He isn't even a steady member of the starting lineup yet. He may never get close to a performance like this again.
But people are still talking about it. And using it for analogies. And as you may have suspected, that's what I'm getting ready to do.
Americans are very proud of such behavior. Detroit is known for some very rabid fans. Yet they stood and cheered the following night when Galarraga and Joyce shook hands at home plate.
So why doesn't that happen all the time? We're a good nation of good people. Why don't we always reward good behavior?
I'm speaking, of course, about negative political campaigning. Americans overwhelmingly say they don't like it. Yet, at this moment, there are people in back rooms preparing attack ads.
Why are they doing it? Because the people in the business say the evidence demonstrates that attack ads are necessary in order to win. We don't like them but we let them influence us.
Two of the five candidates in the recent GOP gubernatorial primary ran negative ads. They garnered 79 percent of the vote. There are a few exceptions to the rule however. Gov. Gary Johnson stayed away from negative ads during his two successful campaigns.
* * *
While we're on the subject of unusual human behavior, I can't resist telling you about a resolution that was working its way through the Hawaii Legislature when we were there this spring. It recognized the cultural merits of cockfighting in the long history of the islands.
Cockfighting is now illegal in Hawaii but is still honored by enough residents to get it through some legislative committees.
I don't know if there is a connection but the fellow who lives across the street from where we stay in Hawaii has recently quit raising game cocks and now just has chickens.
In New Mexico, cockfighting isn't faring as well. Federal Judge Martha Vasquez has said that a suit brought by the Kiowa tribe and the New Mexico game fowl breeders has shortcomings that are insurmountable.
The two groups claimed New Mexico's law making cockfighting unlawful violates their constitutional rights.
FRI, 6-11-10

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