Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12-20 Easier Route to National Office for Susana

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Gov.-elect Susana Martinez appears poised to follow in Gov. Bill Richardson's footsteps as the second governor in a row to be considered for the U.S. vice presidency during her second year in office.
But her path will be very different. Richardson had to work for his consideration all the way. Like Martinez, Richardson's goal was not to be just vice president. He wanted to be president.
And while working toward that goal, he was busy building the best resume of any possible presidential candidate.
Richardson began his career by getting a masters degree in international relations from the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Next, he joined the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then he moved to New Mexico as executive director of the state Democratic Party.
Losing that job to a change in administrations, Richardson briefly became an international trade consultant. From there, he ran for Congress until he won and served in the U.S. House for 14 years, becoming a deputy Democratic whip and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
During his congressional career, Richardson went on numerous foreign policy missions for President Bill Clinton. He left Congress to become Clinton's United Nation's ambassador.
After two years in that job, Clinton moved him over to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. While in that position, Vice President Al Gore considered him as a vice-presidential running mate in 2000. Security problems at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory plus the rising price of gasoline derailed that possibility.
But soon Richardson was on the trail of running for governor of New Mexico. If successful, he could add that to his two years experience at the Department of Energy to give him more administrative experience, in addition to his legislative experience, than any other expected presidential candidate.
As governor, Richardson didn't slow down on the national scene either. He became president of the Democratic Governors Association and chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
During his first year as governor, Richardson was a whirlwind of action with numerous "bold initiatives." Included were a commuter train, a spaceport, many environmental initiatives and a big tax cut directed mainly at higher incomes to attract new businesses.
Richardson was mentioned frequently as a vice-presidential candidate again in 2004, two years into his gubernatorial term. He frequently denied it and eventually released a letter to Democratic nominee John Kerry asking not to be considered.
Three years later, we saw Richardson begin a grueling effort for the presidential nomination. It was uphill all the way. He had little support from national figures. And he had to raise a huge amount of money.
He led the bottom tier of candidates but despite a tremendous amount of effort, his candidacy never really got off the ground. And with an Anglo name, he had trouble identifying himself to other Hispanics as one of them.
In contrast, Susana Martinez is obviously Hispanic and obviously female -- two demographics national Republicans are trying hard to attract. She is the first and only governor to fit those qualifications, making her a very hot commodity.
The only Hispanic Republican woman in Congress is Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, of Florida. She is Cuban and has been in the House for 20 years
Martinez had no trouble raising money for her primary or general elections or her inaugural events. She appears to have strong support from national GOP leaders.
Her road to national office appears far easier than Richardson's if she doesn't trip along the way. And it should allow her to remain in our state much more than Gov. Richardson has.
If her first year in office is successful, expect to see Martinez seriously considered as a vice-presidential running mate for anyone but Sarah Palin in the spring of 2012
MON, 12-20-10

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



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