Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fw: 11-26 Martinez's Appointments Yield Surprises


SANTA FE - Gov.-Elect Susana Martinez is still over a month away from assuming office but she is likely busier than most of her predecessors. Not only does she have a crushing budget deficit to tame, she also is a star in the national Republican Party and getting much attention there.
She was selected to the Republican Governors Association leadership team and is being mentioned as a possible 2012 vice-presidential candidate or as a U.S. attorney general nominee if the GOP wins the next presidential sweepstakes.
But transition work comes first. Much is happening on the 3rd floor of the state Capitol Building, where legislative offices are turned over to transition teams every time a new governor is elected. Some of the work is being done down in Las Cruces and there has even been a report of activity in a hotel near the El Paso airport.
For the first time ever, there will be an inaugural ball in Las Cruces in addition to the usual balls in Santa Fe. It is nice to see another part of the state get in on some of the action.
Martinez quickly announced former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson as her transition chairwoman and then several of her transition teams. Few other public announcements have been made since then but a pattern appears to have emerged.
Transition teams for energy and environment have been heavily weighted toward the oil business and land developers, indicating a relaxed regulatory climate is on the way. That will be a relief to many who have contended that rules promulgated during the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson have chased businesses out of state.
Another pattern may lie in the number of women Martinez and Wilson have appointed to transition teams and other top jobs. The presence of women in the governors' office and in cabinet level jobs is not unusual in New Mexico. Women often have served as chiefs of staff to governors.
Gov. David Cargo (1967-70) enticed Maralyn Budke away from the Legislative Finance Committee to be his chief of staff. Twenty years later, Republican Gov. Garrey Carruthers convinced Budke to come out of retirement to be his chief of staff. She insisted on receiving only $1 per year to head his administration.
Linda Kehoe headed Gov. Bruce King's office for many years and Shirley Scarfiotti was Gov. Toney Anaya's top hand during his administration.
Another somewhat unexpected development occurred with the appearance of the Domenici influence. Pete Domenici, Jr. was one of Susana Martinez's competitors in the June Republican primary.
On election night, Domenici was the only one of the five gubernatorial candidates to appear at the state GOP election night party in Albuquerque. Martinez was in Las Cruces and the other three held their own functions.
During an interview that evening Domenici said he would support the winning candidate. The Domenici support for Martinez was not particularly obvious during the general election campaign but now that Martinez is the governor-elect, the Domenici stamp is all over her campaign.
Transition team head Heather Wilson would not have made it to the U.S. House of Representatives without Pete, Sir's help. Pete, Jr. is chairman of the Energy and Environment transition team, which obviously will be very important to the incoming administration.
Steve Bell, a former Domenici chief of staff, heads the transition team to select a chief of staff for Martinez. Former Domenici aide Lou Gallegos also is on that team.
One group that might have been expected to be heavily represented on Martinez's transition team is Hispanics. But Martinez has frequently said that she doesn't want to be known as the nation's first female Hispanic governor. She wants to be known as the governor who pulled New Mexico out of its economic slump.
As this is being written, Martinez has not finished naming all her transition appointments. Reaction to the remaining appointments may give her a good indication about what she would like to see in the composition of her cabinet.



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