Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11-19 The First Gentleman & the Second Fiddle

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Ah, the men in Susana's life. What to do with the first gentleman and the second fiddle? It's a pesky problem.
The first gentleman, Chuck Franco, is unique in New Mexico politics. We haven't had a first gentleman before.
Chuck is retired and so doesn't have a job to go to every day. He was always at his wife's side during the campaign, helping in anyway he could. But now what does he do?
Franco has volunteered to help his wife in any way he can. His areas of expertise are in law enforcement. He worked undercover much of that time so he's good at playing other roles. He's also a hunter and fisherman so he has been appointed to the transition committee for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and the Environment Department.
When Kathy Carruthers, also from Las Cruces, was first lady, she created a Governor's Mansion Foundation to purchase and oversee the furniture, equipment and decorations in the public areas of the mansion.
The arrangement has worked well, saving the state time, effort and money. The first ladies and foundation members have worked together well in identifying needs and making changes.
An unusual situation arose during the administration of Gov. Gary Johnson. First Lady Dee had worked at Gary's side in their construction business for years.
Every time she and the committee would identify a needed repair or remodel, she would do it herself while the committee was still deliberating. They say she wielded a men hammer. Some similar flexibility may be needed in working with First Gentleman Chuck Franco.
The mansion is decorated according to the first families' tastes from the large collection at the New Mexico Museum of Art. A suggestion has been made that the first gentleman might want to drop by the Game and Fist Department to borrow some stuffed animals.
Anyway, the word is that Franco is a nice flexible guy who should fit in well.
The second fiddle is another problem. Lt. Gov.-Elect John Sanchez hasn't mentioned publicly that he plans to stay home and run his roofing business. So the assumption is that he plans to take the option to be a full-time lieutenant governor.
Evidently his roofing business is big enough that he can leave it. Evidently he would like to stay on the periphery of politics in case he might like to run for higher office someday.
But he is not going to be a part of a Martinez/Sanchez administration. That became particularly evident when Gov.-Elect Martinez sent him out of town for the next 30 days to visit all 33 counties.
Ostensibly the purpose is to learn whether small businesses would like tax breaks, loosing of regulations and streamlined licensing procedures.
The answers in all 33 counties will be yes, yes and yes. Maybe he will come back with some good anecdotes for her speech to the Jan. 18 opening of the Legislature. He is to submit his report by Dec. 31. There is no timetable for its implementation.
The real purpose of Sanchez's trip is to get him out of the governor-elect's hair while she is preparing to run the state. He will be busy performing his only duty, running the Senate, through March. Then Sanchez will have to think of something else for him to do.
You'll also remember the lieutenant governor will fill in for the governor while she is out of state. But if anything unexpected happens during that period, the lieutenant governor best stay out of the way.
The governor's chief of staff handles such matters in consultation with the governor. Occasionally lieutenant governors have had to learn that lesson the hard way and suffer some embarrassment.
To be honest, we really don't need a lieutenant governor. Senators can elect one of their own to preside over their body just as the House does..
Since Arizona has had several governors leave while in office. Voters there were given the opportunity to create a lieutenant governor's post. They rejected it.
FRI, 11-19-10

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



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