Friday, December 05, 2008

The Eggshell Transition; Bill & Di Walk On Them As They Prepare State For Leadership Change, Plus: Denish Names Transition Staff 

  • On Friday Lt. Governor Denish named former NM Economic Development Director Kathy Keith as Transition Director. Her former chief of staff, Chris Cervini, was appointed transition communications director.
It's almost like he wants to stay. That's the vibe you get hearing Big Bill say his US Senate confirmation for commerce secretary may not be completed until late February and that he could be around to guide the Legislative session until then. The session starts January 20 and runs for sixty days. But Washington watchers say it's possible Bill's confirmation could come much earlier. It's happened before, they say, so he could be confirmed and ready to go to Washington by the end of January.

Earlier state House Speaker Ben Lujan openly pined about having Big Bill around for a good portion of the session. The two have been tight as a vise and will play until the last hand is dealt. But the nation faces an economic calamity and if Richardson is going to be a "key" player on the economy--as President-elect Obama said he will--shouldn't he be chomping at the bit to get to work in D.C? Well, the Guv and the speaker may want to have their cake and eat it, too--control the outcome of the legislative session and then Bill transitions to commerce. It's how the power players play.

New Mexico has a governor in waiting, but there's only one commerce secretary. Wouldn't President-elect Obama and the Democratic controlled US Senate want a team in place ASAP and ready to deal with the financial crisis immediately after Obama takes the oath?

Kathy Keith
Here are the bios of the two transition staffers named by Lt. Gov. Denish. The info comes from her office:

...Denish named Kathy Keith as Transition Director to be the point person to the Governor's Office and overall manager of transition activities. Keith joins the staff from Public Works, LLC a private firm which assists Governors and their cabinet agencies nationwide on projects involving planning, innovative policy and efficiency. Previously Keith served as the Director of Economic Development Division for the State of New Mexico (2003-2006), as the Director of the federal program to rebuild Los Alamos following the Cerro Grande Fire (2000-2002), as the White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Energy (1998-2000) and for the United States Congress (1993-1998) in various capacities. She is a native of Tucumcari and holds a bachelors degree in journalism and political science from Texas Tech University.

By the way, Keith's seven years of service in the US Congress were as legislative director to then-Congressman Bill Richardson.

Chris Cervini was named Transition Communications Director and will be responsible for communicating the activities of the transition and working with agency PIOs and current governor's office communications staff on the transition. Chris Cervini joins the transition from Lovelace Health System where he served as External Communications Manager in the Marketing and Public Relations Department. Before that he was Chief of Staff and Communications and Policy Director for Lt. Governor Denish from 2003-2006. He has a Master's Degree in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.


NM Republican Party Vice-Chair Jon Barela says count him out when it comes to seeking the state chair position which is up for grabs next month. Barela, an attorney and a recent appointee to the ABQ School Board, says he is too busy with private business to consider a run for the GOP slot which is being vacated by Chairman Allen Weh. He has until mid-month to decide whether he will seek election in February to the school board seat he was appointed to.

Outgoing GOP Congressman Steve Pearce appears to be running for chair at the January election. However, if Pearce decides to try to get his House seat back from Democrat Harry Teague in 2010, he would not be able to serve the full two years. It's a question he is sure to confront when he discusses a chair candidacy with voting delegates.


When we blogged Thursday hat what is happening in Santa Fe with the Guv transition has never happened before, we were well aware of 1962 when Gov. Ed Mechem resigned to become a US Senator and Lt. Gov Bolack took over. But Bolack was not transitioning to anything. There was only one month left on Mechem's term. Our point was that the current situation--a transition to fill two years of a Guv's term while that Governor remains in office for six weeks or longer--is, to our knowledge, unprecedented.

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