Inside the Capitol

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1-25 Gov. Martinez being considered for veep


SANTA FE – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has confirmed that he is looking at New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a possible vice-presidential running mate.
When asked what vice-presidential possibilities he was considering, Romney indicated his interest in some of the party's first-term governors. Gov. Martinez was one of the first he named. He, of course, omitted any of those who already have created major controversies in their states. And he didn't mention any U.S. senators.
It is interesting that Romney, a former governor, has his eye on new governors rather than current members of Congress to complete his ticket if he is nominated. Senators often are the choice for running mates because they have the contacts to aid a president in getting legislation through Congress Senators also are preferable to House members since they represent an entire state that they might be able to help win in the general election..
But Romney apparently is looking at people with executive experience to help him run government. One drawback is that governors have little foreign policy background, which often is a major subject in vice-presidential debates.
Gov. Martinez has responded to this and a mention last week on national television that she would be the best balance for a ticket headed by Rick Santorum, the only true conservative in the GOP presidential race.
Martinez says she is not interested in the vice presidency because her full attention is focused on being the best governor she can be for New Mexico. That always was former Gov. Bill Richardson's response the three times he was considered for the vice presidency.
Disinterest almost always has to be a governor's response. The possibility of being the selection out of the many being considered is low. It weakens one's power and popularity at home and it eliminates the embarrassment of not being selected.
One time when Richardson was being considered, he eventually wrote a letter presidential nominee saying he was not interested. Some wonder if Richardson ever was seriously considered. The consensus is that he was seriously considered by Al Gore in 2000, when Richardson was U.S. Energy secretary and former United Nations ambassador.
The gasoline price spike and the loss of documents during the Los Alamos fire ruined his chances that time. In 2004, Richardson had two successful years as governor under his belt and probably wasn't particularly interested in leaving his job.
I do know that he was seriously enough considered that year to be vetted. I received a phone call from a member of that committee asking whether I thought Richardson's interest in Billy the Kid and the Roswell Incident were an indication that he would be too off-the-wall.
Despite their assurances about remaining as governor, if the call ever comes, it is difficult to decline the request to serve one's country.
Martinez wouldn't have to give up her office in order to run. Governors and members of Congress do it all the time. Gov. Sarah Palin and Gov. George W. Bush ran while remaining in office. So did Martinez and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish while they were running for governor. Gov. Martinez, however, has indicated some strong feelings about others running for office while serving in her administration.
She told Lt. Gov. John Sanchez she would strip him of all duties when he announced as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Sanchez noted that he also is an elected official and doesn't take orders from the governor.
Jon Barela is the Secretary of Economic Development for the governor and, as such, is not an elected official. Martinez said that if Barela were to run for Congress in the 1st Congressional District, he would have to resign his position.
Barela waited a long time to declare whether he would run. He finally did so last week, announcing that he will stay put. He, of course, didn't say whether Martinez's requirement that he resign played a part in his decision.


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