Inside the Capitol

Sunday, December 26, 2010

12-29 2010 Bad Year for Political Predictions

WED, 12-29-10

SANTA FE - After closely watching the New Mexico political scene for over 50 years, it had become fun and easy to predict events of the next year. Regardless of what was said by our politicos, actual events fell into a predictable pattern.
Until two years ago, that is. At almost exactly this same time in 2008, Gov. Bill Richardson announced he would not be leaving New Mexico midway through his second term to join the cabinet of the incoming Barack Obama presidency.
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish's transition team had about finished its work. Bill Richardson was just an afterthought. And then came the bombshell. Gov. Richardson wasn't leaving.
His 500 political appointees, who had been busily assuring Denish of their loyalty, were running over each other in the Roundhouse hallways to reassure Richardson they were still solidly in his corner. And my predictions of what would be happening during a Denish administration could be thrown in the waste can.
Despite losing her chance to take over early as governor, Denish built up a $2 million campaign war chest and scared out all possible Democratic challengers. And both Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson considered Denish's two toughest possible opponents had decided this wasn't the time to run for governor.
Denish looked unbeatable. It was at that point that I boldly predicted Denish would best Allen Weh for governor. But Susana Martinez came from statewide obscurity to a place on the national stage in less than a year.
This coming year will be equally difficult to call. Who knows how Martinez's first year in the saddle will go? She still is a relatively unknown quantity. I have been chided for putting her on the national stage before even serving a day in office.
But let me remind you that 10 years ago, when Bill Richardson was still working for the Clinton administration and Gary Johnson had just begun his campaign to legalize drugs, I predicted both would be running for president before the decade was over.
Everyone but Bill Richardson told me I was crazy. I may not be crazy about Susana Martinez's possibilities either. There is ample evidence Martinez still is receiving national assistance to assure a successful tenure in office.
Gov.-elect Martinez made public schools and Medicaid priorities during her campaign. Her choices for cabinet secretaries of the Public education Department and the Human Services Department were both people of national stature - probably not an accident.
A year ago, I picked Reps. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan to win their congressional seats again. I demurred on the Teague-Pearce race. I picked libertarian-leaning Adam Kokesh to win the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.
I based that on Kokesh's fund raising ability and his aggressive full-time campaign. I should have heeded an anonymous tip from a GOP leader that beating Kokesh was a Republican Party priority because the guy was scary.
I predicted New Mexico's economy would remain bad throughout this year despite legislative predictions of a six percent increase. That was an easy one. So was my prediction that ethics reform would continue to receive much lip service but little action.
We heard much about ethics and corruption during the recent political campaigns but it isn't likely to result in any stricter laws.
My prediction that former Gov. Gary Johnson would become more visible nationally but wouldn't get invited to any Republican functions because of his libertarian views on drug legalization and foreign entanglements turned out to be only half right. He has been invited to Republican functions in states with early presidential primaries.
And my final prediction, which proved accurate, was that Billy the Kid would remain in the news in a big way this year. That was an easy one too because Gov. Richardson was sure to take one last shot at linking his name with the world's most famous New Mexican.



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