Inside the Capitol

Thursday, May 05, 2011

5-9 GOP Looking Good

MON, 5-09-11
SANTA FE � A recent national GOP poll would suggest that New Mexico Democrats might just as well not bother with the 2012 elections. A robo call of Republicans likely to vote in the 2012 primary gave Gov. Susana Martinez a 93 percent favorable rating and former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson an 83 percent rating.
Those are high marks, even for members of one�s own party. And that is an especially high rating among Republicans for Wilson who was beaten convincingly in the 2008 GOP primary by fellow Republican Steve Pearce.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez has been working at inheriting the conservative blessing from Pearce this time around. But his 58 percent approval rating is not translating yet into Republicans who say they will vote for him. Only 17 percent plan to do that at this point as compared to 59 percent who will vote for Wilson.
If that number has any validity for Wilson, she is doing much better than expected. Likely Republican primary voters usually tend toward conservative and that isn�t considered good for Wilson. It is time for those with conservative credentials to get their campaigns in high gear.
And recently Wilson received an endorsement from Tea Party activist Tim Lewis a, brother of Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, who is running for the vacated U.S. House seat of Rep. Martin Heinrich. Wilson also is viewed as New Mexico�s most able advocate for the state�s national labs and air bases.
Gov. Martinez�s popularity is surprisingly high among Republicans considering she has just been through a bruising legislative session without a great deal of success delivering on campaign promises. She has traveled the state frequently, often for feel-good bill signings and evidently always by car but otherwise, her media effort has been weak and her accessibility low.
Republicans like limited government and that�s what they�re getting. Few bills got past Martinez�s veto pen and many programs have been cut. And she continually gets away with claiming that she cut $450 million out of the state budget even though her budget proposal cut only $134 million from our next budget and the Democratic-controlled Legislature cut another $22 million beyond the governor�s cuts.
One cut Martinez hasn�t been able to make is the sale of the state jet on eBay. She now has contracted with a Colorado firm to find a buyer.
One cut that Martinez�s homefolks shouldn�t like is her lack of support for Spaceport America, located near the border between Sierra and Dona Ana counties. The project could be the biggest economic development initiative southern New Mexico ever has seen
At times Martinez has had a few nice words about the project but mostly, she has seemed totally disinterested in the entire idea. She did appoint what appears to be a strong manager for the effort but she followed that with a $500,000 cut to the spaceport�s operating budget. That money could be much needed when it comes to opening and promoting the spaceport.
A month seldom passes that another state or nation doesn�t announce plans for a commercial spaceport. Sooner or later, Virgin Galactic�s Richard Branson is going to get an offer he can�t refuse to move his operations out of New Mexico. This month�s entry into the contest is the tiny island of Curacao, off the northern coast of Venezuela.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has made it official. He now is a declared candidate for governor. He still isn�t making many lists of candidates but he has participated in a South Carolina debate. There is a catch, however.
To register for South Carolina�s ballot and participate in the debate a $25,000 payment is necessary. Few of the top tier candidates have opted in. There is bound to be another inducement down the line.
Also participating in the debate was U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Johnson had hoped to gain the libertarian support that Paul had behind him for years ago. But it sounds as though Paul will be running again.
Friends and family now arriving. Things are getting hectic. Next two columns are iffy.  Jay


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