Inside the Capitol

Thursday, August 04, 2011

8-10 Gov. looking good nationally

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Gov. Susana Martinez continues to look good on the national level. We have talked previously about her national political ambitions and her frequent denials of any such interest.
But we haven't listened very closely because we became so accustomed to hearing her predecessor, Gov. Bill Richardson make similar denials before jumping in feet first.
We've also heard that even if Gov. Martinez prefers to concentrate solely on being a good governor, her 2010 campaign advisers, who still are sticking around, are itching for a 2012 national campaign.
Campaign staff usually don't stay after their work is over. A spot in the winning candidate's administration is incredibly boring compared to the frenetic action of a campaign.
That is true especially if one is young. Later on, with less energy and a family to support, a full time job looks much better. But most of Martinez's staff was young. So why did they want to stay? Many were New Mexicans, which is unusual for a major campaign.
Or is it that they think Martinez has something going for her that most candidates don't? That's where the good national publicity comes in.
Martinez is being viewed nationally as one of the few new Republican governors who haven't adopted a scorched earth policy to vanquish traditional opponents.
Some of those traditional opponents speak of the national Republican playbook provided to all new Republican governors. Based on the actions of most new Republican governors, such a playbook may exist.
But Martinez has chosen to be one of the few new governors who have chosen not to throw herself over a cliff while following orders but to leave well-enough alone and stop there -- for now anyway.
Those who have chosen to jump off the cliff have much higher name recognition nationally. But Florida's Rick Scott has fallen to a 29 percent approval rating in five months. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's approval has fallen to 41 percent while fighting recall attempts. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich is now at 33 percent.
These governors and others have chosen to try to produce radical changes through confrontational politics that have resulted in civil wars with their legislatures.
Gov. Martinez's relations with the New Mexico Legislature cannot be described as warm and fuzzy. The closest she came to war was a robocall blitz to produce calls to lawmakers.
Other than that, she mainly ignored the Legislature. It didn't win her any points but it didn't lose her much either. Her latest New Mexico approval rating stands at 52 percent -- one of the few positive scores among new Republican governors.
While Martinez is not popular with public employees, she hasn't taken them on directly as some other governors have. Instead of blaming teachers for education's failures, she has gone after superintendents, their public relations staffs and the Public Education Department.
Instead of trimming state employees, she has targeted the governor's personal staff, such as chefs, jet pilots and cabinet officers' payrolls.
Some political watchers contend that Gov. Martinez is not using a soft touch when it comes to taking drivers' licenses from illegal aliens. It was a divisive issue during this year's regular legislative session.
She didn't accept a Democratic compromise and now she is intending to stuff it in to next month's special session on redistricting. The session will be tense enough without that addition.
On top of that, Martinez has notified 10,000 foreigners with drivers' licenses to travel from all over the state to Albuquerque for an interview. After some heated protests, Martinez opened a Las Cruces office to handle license holders from the southern part of the state.
Could this be the cliff Martinez drives over? Not likely. Drivers' licenses for illegal aliens don't seem to be popular anywhere in the country. New Mexico is one of only two states in which they are issued.
Martinez comes out ahead nationally on this one too.
WED, 8-10-11

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



Post a Comment

<< Home