Thursday, December 04, 2008

Luck Be A Lady To Di; She's Gonna Need It; Unprecedented Transition For NM Governor Starts As Bill Starts Packing, Plus: The Hector & Lawrence Show 

Happy Together Or Not?
One of the current well-worn phrases you won't hear around New Mexico's capitol in the weeks ahead is: "Been There, Done That." No, we haven't. There's no rule book for outgoing Governor Richardson or soon to be incoming Governor Denish for the next six weeks as they prepare for Bill to exit to D.C. and begin his work as Commerce Secretary and for Di to take over the Fourth Floor. One thing is for sure: it's a recipe for tension. Today the duo will come with the holiday cheer for the TV cameras as they conduct a news conference, but the two players have very different agendas.

Richardson will want to protect his legacy and defend himself from charges that he is leaving the state financially flat-footed with a deficit that could hit half a billion dollars. But Denish may have quite different ideas on how to trim the fat. Hashing this out is the pair's most formidable challenge. If things go awry, look for legislators hungry to take back some of the power they have ceded to the executive the past six years to move quickly to take advantage. Heck, look for them to move to get back some of their mojo no matter what.


The names resonate with veteran politicos. Marilyn Budke. Lou Gallegos. Shirley Scarfiotti. James B. Lewis. James Jimenez. All of them had one job in common--serving as a chief of staff to a New Mexico governor. It's not an easy post to fill. You are a gatekeeper, master of the bureaucracy and a key player with legislators. Denish hired Judy Espinosa as her Light Guv staff chief with an eye toward the day she would take over as Guv, but Espinosa's tenure was cut short and she ended up at NM Expo.

Denish has given no indication of who will fill the vital slot, but she may want to do so soon as the line of favor seekers grows longer by the day. And then there is that transition to help manage. One name that comes to mind is Jay Czar, executive director of the NM Mortgage Finance Authority. He has the pedigree, having served as ABQ chief administrative officer and as head of the ABQ airport. He's a pro's pro and is well known in key business and political circles. Chris Cervini is a former staff chief for the Light Guv. Does he have the depth desired? And Di's current staff chief, Josh Rosen, shouldn't be given the bum's rush. Maybe the younger generation has got what it takes.


Lots of conflicting info floating around on just when Big Bill can be expected to leave the Guv's office. We asked Josh Kraushaar of the Politico in D.C. what he's hearing. "We expect just about all of the cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate and in their jobs by the end of January, including Governor Richardson as Commerce Secretary," Josh told us. The legislative session starts January 20, the same day Obama takes the oath.


They're getting more aggressive as the hour of reckoning nears. The apparent top two contenders to become Light Guv under the new Guv, State Auditor Hector Balderas and Mid-Region Council of Governments head Lawrence Rael, were not playing shy when asked by the TV's Wednesday about their interest in the #2 post. Both were forthright in saying they want the job. And look at part of the thank you card Hector distributed far and wide right after the election. He's pictured with Caroline Kennedy. Yes, he's off and running.

How about a wild card choice if these two don't fit the bill? Let's put Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas in the mix. He would give Denish the northern Hispanic balance she needs for the 2010 race and he also understands how government works.


Is someone bitter? Outgoing ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson on President-elect Obama's selection of Richardson as Commerce Secretary.

Richardson is skipping town and leaving behind a crushing $500 million budget deficit for someone else to clean up. What a mess he's created in Santa Fe.

Maybe there's a point there, but Heather has lost her political timing and with it her seat in the United States Congress.


This is a strange one. Insiders inform that State Representative-elect Karen Giannini needs a new job because the Honeywell Corporation, where she works in aerospace, won't give her the needed time off to attend the legislative session. They say she sent out an e-mail to supporters asking for help in finding a new gig so she can serve. Democrat Karen, a political unknown who no one expected to beat GOP State Rep. Justine Fox-Young, is one interesting politico who had personal tragedy while in the middle of her campaign for the ABQ NE Heights seat. Here's a sample from an e-mail exchange we had with her a couple of weeks ago:

I was born in Morocco on US soil to military parents. My father was in the USAF as a fighter/bomber pilot for most of his career. I've lived in the Philippines, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, Washington and Colorado. I attended Colorado State University where I received my BS in Physics and was commissioned into the USAF that same day by my father. I served in the USAF at Andrews and Kirtland AFB's during my 6.5 years and departed as a Captain. I received the endorsement of the Central NM AFL-CIO and the Albuquerque Teacher's Federation. I was putting my campaign into high gear when my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in August. He subsequently went into surgery and died a week later--on my Mom's birthday--September 13.

Karen is dedicated to serving. That's for sure.


Thanks to readers of ABQ The Magazine for voting as the city's best blog and for their big party Wednesday night at Santa Ana. No, the Alligators did not stuff the ballot box....And thanks to members of the NM Association of Counties and Paul Gutierrez for having us on their media panel Wednesday. What was one of the big questions on the minds of top county officials? Who will be the next lieutenant governor? Our kind of crowd...Howie Morales is not a "Senator-elect" as we blogged Wednesday. He is a full-fledged Senator having been appointed to fill the Ben Altamirano vacancy...

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