Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7-15 Gov's administration full of campaign staff

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Recent developments have put the spotlight on some of Gov. Susana Martinez's executive team.
The most recent development is the quiet move of former state Rep. Brian Moore to New Mexico's one-person Washington office. It is a wonderful opportunity for a guy from Clayton to get to know our nation's capitol.
But it isn't a promotion. Moore is a deputy chief of staff in the governor's office. That has meant second-in-command in previous administrations. During her campaign, Martinez vowed to do away with the state's Washington office.
So what's up? No one seems to know. Blogger Joe Monahan sniffed out the move two weeks ago and surmises that Moore is on the way out. Others have heard it is only a six-month stint.
Moore's primary assignment was to handle relations with the Legislature. He was a respected lawmaker, able to work well with both sides of the aisle. His appointment by the new administration was hailed as a brilliant move.
But the Martinez administration never seemed to get out of campaign mode. Relations remained adversarial and it wasn't because of Moore who was seldom seen or heard.
If Moore is to be in Washington for six months, he would be back just in time for the 2012 Legislature. But anyone who has worked with the Legislature knows that it is a year-round job building relations and selling ideas.
Of course legislative relations and congressional relations are related. Maybe Moore is back there to get a feel for whether there is a need for an office in Washington.. He's taking his wife and dog and a rental truck with him. They should arrive today.
But most capitol observers see a similarity with the governor's treatment of Lt. Gov. John Sanchez. Very soon after her election last November, Martinez sent Sanchez on a listening tour to every county in the state.
Being an independent elected official himself, Sanchez didn't have to obey orders. He likely saw Martinez's assignment as a move to keep him out of the way while she was setting up her administration.
But Sanchez also likely saw it as an opportunity to broaden contacts he had made during the primary and general election. He didn't know at the time that Sen. Jeff Bingaman was on the verge of retiring and he could use those contacts almost immediately.
Sanchez's entry into the U.S. Senate race totally ticked Gov. Martinez. She announced she wasn't going to give him any responsibilities. But judging from her actions during the three months following her election, she wasn't going to delegate anything to her lieutenant governor anyway.
And there is no reason she should -- other than to keep him out of mischief. The 1971 Legislature never should have created a full-time lieutenant governor option in the first place. The 2013 legislature should abolish it.
Lieutenant governors really aren't needed at all. Several states don't have the office. Until 1958, New Mexico's governors and lieutenant governors ran separately in general elections. They sometimes were from opposite parties.
Despite dominant feelings that Brian Moore is permanently out of the loop, he may be quietly trying to advance Martinez's national political aspirations. Republicans charged that was former Gov. Bill Richardson's motive for a Washington office.
But if that were the reason, Martinez's chief political adviser, Jay McCleskey, would send someone from her campaign staff to wheel and deal with the kingmakers. There still are plenty of those left around.
Ryan Cangiolosi, the governor's other deputy chief of staff, was Martinez's campaign manager. Matthew Stackpole, the governor's assistant general counsel, was deputy director of campaign operations for Martinez.
Scott Darnell, the governor's communications director, was communications director for the state Republican Party. Matt Kennicott, communications director for the state Human Services Department, was director of Martinez's campaign operations and has worked with the Republican National Committee.
FRI, 7-15-11

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



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