Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

10-7 attachment

100711 This n' that

SANTA FE – Currently there is a lull in the redistricting battle as lawyers file challenges with the courts. Expect many lawyers and many suits because the state is obligated to pay their fees regardless of what they charge.
Courts will have to wait for Gov. Susana Martinez's action on redistricting bills before swinging into action. Then they will move as quickly as possible since candidates already can start circulating nominating petitions.
Now that Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. has agreed to resign, the only major action remaining on that matter will be Gov. Martinez's appointment of a replacement. Applications for the position were closed two days ago.
So with those two big issues briefly lying dormant, we can talk about other matters of interest in New Mexico politics for a few days.
Where's Bill Richardson? The question is asked frequently now that the former governor is out of the headlines. Richardson hasn't been kicking back as much as he talked about before leaving office last Dec. 31.
He has kept a small staff and is bouncing around speaking and looking for gigs as a consultant. He recently landed a spot at the James A. Baker Institute, at Rice University, in Houston, Texas, as a fellow in Latin American affairs. Baker was a top advisor to President George W. Bush and headed the legal team that halted the recount of Florida votes in 2000.
It may not have been intentional but before Richardson was governor, he was associated with the Kissinger firm in Washington; D. C. Kissinger was a top hand at the White House in the Nixon administration. That is bipartisanship for you.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is having a heck of a time getting his presidential campaign noticed. Fox News has given him some air time and invited him to the Florida debate. Johnson was mainly ignored by the moderator in that debate. His speaking skills and debate skills are not exciting but he vows to keep going.
It still is unclear whether Johnson will be invited to any more debates. It is likely the national GOP hierarchy would prefer not to have him around because they find some of his libertarian views embarrassing. He wants us to get out of all our wars – Iraq, Afghanistan, drugs – and is close to the position of Texas governors on immigration.
What is it about New Mexico governors who can win by big margins in the state but can't capture the imagination of voters elsewhere? Is it because they still have trouble remembering New Mexico is a state? Is it because the word "Mexico" in our name makes us seem too foreign?
Probably not. President Obama overcame both those factors. Evidently we just haven't found anyone who is quite ready for prime time yet. Four years ago, Americans seemed to forget that governors tend to make better presidents. They have had experience turning dreams into reality and they have a feel for guiding us through crises.
The way candidates keep flaming out of the GOP presidential race, Johnson's endurance and perseverance could leave him as the last candidate standing.
We haven't said much about the 1st Congressional District race in the Albuquerque area to fill the spot left by Rep. Martin Heinrich who is moving up to run for the Senate seat being vacated the retiring Jeff Bingaman.
On the Democratic side are state Sen. Eric Griego, who got in the race early and is capturing the liberal vote, former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, who should attract the more conservative vote and County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is in the middle. Lujan Grisham hasn't picked up much of a base yet but could end up being a factor.
On the GOP side, are conservative City Councilor Dan Lewis and moderate former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. Jon Barela, who carried the flag for Republicans four years ago, may stay in his state Economic Development Department post.


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