Friday, November 05, 2010

Heather's Back (At Least For A While), Plus: The Election Week That Was; Clippings From My Cluttered Newsroom Floor 

Wilson, Martinez & Sanchez
Heather Wilson is back on the radar, selected to head the transition team of Governor-elect Susana Martinez. The upside is that Wilson, who held the ABQ congressional seat from '98 to '09, is a brainy, competent and knowledgeable government insider. The downside is Wilson's identification among some segments of the public as a highly partisan figure.

For example, in the recent campaign she spent several hours on the radio pounding the character and policies of Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich. Also, her 2008 run against Republican Steve Pearce for the US Senate nomination, which Pearce won, was divisive within the GOP. It alienated her, in particular, from southern conservatives who are the backbone of Martinez's base.

Wilson, a former cabinet secretary for Children, Youth and Families under GOP Governor Gary Johnson, says she is not interested in a job with Martinez following the transition. That will take some of the sting out of Wilson's critics. Besides, Santa Fe probably has room for only one Queen Bee.

Wilson, who had a conservative US House voting record, still worked hard to cultivate centrist voters in the ABQ swing district. She has the capability to be a uniter, not a a divider. The best advice she might get right now is to use this honeymoon period to look for professionals who are politically friendly to the Governor-elect and not let the campaign arm push her (and Martinez) into certain appointments.

Wilson may not be Governor, but by screening who gets in she is going to have a major say in shaping the face and voice of state government over the next four years. She is a player and will not be a figure-head. If you're looking for a state job, she will be the go-to gal, as seen in the announcement:

In the coming days and weeks, we will focus on finding individuals who will work day and night to deliver on Susana’s vision of a new direction for New Mexico...

That's what you call the keys to the kingdom. Don't be surprised to see former Wilson and Senator Domenici staffers moving into offices that will be soon left vacant as a result of the dropping of the axe.

But first things first. Looking for a job in this job-starved economy? Here's the Web site to send in your resume.


There is some irony in Heather becoming transition chief for Susana. She was considered the front-runner for the GOP Guv nomination all the way until late October of last year when she announced she would not seek the nod. That paved the way for Martinez to take the nomination.

We don't think Wilson regrets her decision. She is much more a Washington creature than one of Santa Fe. And that also means she's not going to get sentimental when it comes to cutting the budget. Those opposing her in that regard have a formidable opponent.

Wilson's appointment will cause more speculation on whether she will seek the 2012 GOP US Senate nomination and the right to take on Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman. She has an eye on it, but the Senator's standing in the public opinion polls will have a lot to do with it. Also, as transition chair, Wilson will have some ownership of the Martinez administration. That's good if good things happen but bad if bad things happen. Whatever, the transition gives Wilson the opportunity to buff up her image statewide.

Martinez could have gone outside of politics--as has often been done--and selected a business or community leader type to lead the transition. ABQ Mayor Berry did that when he chose businessman Sherman McCorkle to head his transition last year.In 2002, Big Bill selected former NM attorney general and his personal lawyer, Paul Bardacke, to co-chair his transition along with Ed Romero, former US Ambassador to Spain.

Wilson may not sport much of a private sector background, but she has close ties to the major state business leaders as well as key GOP legislators. And even some Democrats pronounced themselves satisfied with her selection.

"Good choice," reacted Jamie Koch, University of New Mexico Regent, former state Dem Party Chairman and longtime friend of Diane Denish when told of the choice.

But another high-ranking Dem on background declared of Wilson: "She is going to take an axe to the place. She doesn't like Santa Fe."

Side notes: The Wilson appointment alleviates some of the concern about Martinez ignoring the ABQ area...Martinez gets credit for not delaying the transition announcement into next week. Uncertainty is not the message you want to send...How about that suggestion we made that Lt. Governor Sanchez head the transition? Hey, we didn't mean to put a hex on the guy.


Election Week around here is kind of like Christmas week in the civilian world. You're running around making last minute preparations, hoping every thing will be perfect, but not getting to uptight when they inevitably don't. Having said that, the week was intense, but gratifying. We hope we gave you a better understanding of the election as well as a bit of fun. We know our many experts on our Election Night broadcast did. They included John Wertheim, Greg Payne, Larry Larranaga, Lenton Malry, Bruce Donisthorpe, Harry Pavlides, Steve Cabiedes and Tim Keller.

And thanks to civilian turned reporter Judith Moyer who manned government center in downtown ABQ where the Bernalillo County results were posted. For the first time since 1988, when we started to anchor the radio coverage, we weren't going to staff downtown. After all, it's all on computers now and the legendary snafus of the past in getting the Bernco results posted seem to be a thing of the past.

But the election gods were watching over us and Judith showed up and cheerily agreed to the downtown beat. Wouldn't you know it when the critical early and absentee vote was posted downtown, it failed to show up on computer screens. The link was not working. We were on the phone with County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver when the glitch occurred. We turned her into a reporter and snagged the early vote for the Guv and congressional races. Maggie then ran off to quickly fix the glitch (it was straightened out in a matter of minutes) and Judith tried to read the results in key races to us and our radio audience as they quickly scrolled by on screens.

It was kind of like that old "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy works on the assembly line packing chocolates, but the line speeds up so much she starts stuffing herself with the chocolates so they won't get by her. Fun stuff and one of those election moments we sure we will savor when we retire our microphone...


Thanks to the ABQ Kiwanis Club for having us over on Election Eve to handicap the races and talk La Politica. Many of them are disillusioned with the tone of politics, but they love America and New Mexico and will never give up on them...

And a tip of the hat to the campaigns and elections class of Professor Tim Krebs at the University of New Mexico for putting us through our paces at a Thursday morning analysis session. I can't tell you what great satisfaction it gives me to have so many young readers. Every time I hear or meet with them, I am more confident than before that they will succeed in improving the world left to them. I hope we are doing our best for them...

And then there's KKOB-AM talk radio and the lion's den maintained by Bob Clark of morning show fame. We kicked the can around Thursday morning with his many listeners. They, too, gave us much food for thought and we thank Bob for the fun exchange.

This Sunday on KOB-TV we'll sit down with the aforementioned Tim Krebs, political reporter Stuart Dyson and news anchor Nicole Brady to take a final look at tCampaign 2010 as it heads quickly toward the history books. If you have a moment, the program will air at 10 a.m.

Finally, congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers of this election. In the winning column--Susana Martinez, John Sanchez, Martin Heinrich, Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Lujan, Gary King and Dianna Duran. We wish them all the best as they work to better the lives of those who live in and love this wonderful state. And the condolences go to Diane Denish, Brian Colon, Jon Barela, Harry Teague, Tom Mullins, Matt Chandler and Mary Herrera.

It should be acknowledged that in Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish we lose a tireless public servant who has made a real difference in improving the lives of families here--and we mean a real difference. She has served honorably for decades. Thanks, Diane.

Now it is off to the future as a new chapter begins in the never-ending book of our beloved La Politica.

I'm Joe Monahan reporting to you from Albuquerque.

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