Inside the Capitol

Friday, May 25, 2012

5-30 A new immigration approach for Gov. Martinez?

53012 Enchanting Guv

SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez still is mostly a mystery to the state and national media. She doesn't do many interviews and she doesn't make many public appearances. The public appearances she does make usually are not publicized because she does not issue a schedule of her coming events as most other governors have done.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson had some pretty mysterious cronies but he was not mysterious himself. Not long after he was elected to Congress, he pulled me aside at one of the frequent media gatherings he hosted and told me he was concerned about someone on his staff feeding me inside information about his thoughts and plans.
I told him his only worry should be that I had him figured out. He was predictable. That can't be said about Gov. Martinez. Perhaps we'll never be able to figure her out. I knew from soon after I met him that Richardson's firm goal was the White House. I suspect that Gov. Martinez has the same goal.
I knew when Bill Richardson said he wouldn't accept a vice-presidential offer that he really was working for it behind the scenes. When Gov. Martinez says she won't accept, I'm not sure. I think she has good personal reasons not to accept but from all indications she listens to her political advisers very closely.
Elected public officials and political advisors have different motives. They both are interested in their futures but not necessarily in each other's futures. The authors who told us so much about the 2008 presidential election in the book "Game Change" said they got much of their information from staff members after the election.
By that time most of those staff advisors had moved on to look for new jobs with 2010 candidates. That's the life of political advisers. Gov. Martinez's advice may be coming from people who have different motives than her own.
But one thing that seems pretty clear about our state's governor is that she must be enchanting. Ten days ago I saw an online poll asking who I thought would be the best vice-presidential candidate. Gov. Martinez was not even included in the list of around 30 candidates.
And yet a few days later "Newsweek" magazine carried a glowing three-page interview of Gov. Martinez saying she knows how to beat President Obama and that she might be presidential candidate Mitt Romney's best veep pick.
Since this was one of Martinez's few interviews concerning the vice presidency, several national news organizations and bloggers quickly picked up on it. The Daily Beast said Susana Martinez can teach the GOP a thing or two. The Tucson Citizen said Mitt Romney should listen to Susana Martinez…but he won't.
The left-leaning Huffington Post said Susana Martinez slams Mitt Romney's immigration strategy. The right-leaning Town Hall said, "Who's afraid of Susana Martinez?" Republicans should be.
It is true that the major message of the Newsweek article was Gov. Martinez's slant on immigration. She is known in New Mexico for her unsuccessful attempts to repeal driver's licenses for illegal aliens.
But in the Newsweek article she spells out a comprehensive immigration plan that hasn't been supported by any Republicans since President George W. Bush nearly got it passed in 2007. says Martinez has committed veep suicide by suggesting a comprehensive immigration plan. That is too big a flip even for Romney.
So what does this indicate for Susana Martinez? Is this move toward a more pragmatic approach to immigration a subtle way to take herself out of vice-presidential consideration this year while positioning herself for the future?
Who knows? Does she figure that a slim Hispanic turnout for Republican candidates this year will cause the party to look for a softer stand in the future? We'll just have to wait and see what this woman of mystery has up her sleeve.


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