Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Martinez Transition: Some First Impressions, Plus: Reaction To Santa Fe Speaker Intrigue 

Some first impressions of the various committees and personalities that Governor-elect Martinez has tasked to oversee the transition as well as the selection of future cabinet secretaries.

It seems New Mexico's first female Governor may be most comfortable with other women at the helm with her. Heather Wilson is transition chair, Nicole McCleskey, her campaign pollster, is vice-chair and Ann Rhoades, an ABQ businesswoman, is chair of the committee that will look for three cabinet picks--including economic development. None of the trio is expected to go to work for the administration.

Martinez also lists four top aides as Dona Ana County District Attorney. All are women.

It will be interesting to see if Martinez also picks a woman as chief of staff. Woman or man, that is a key job in running the government, especially for Martinez who comes aboard with little hands-on experience at running a large bureaucracy. The last Guv female chief of staff was Maralyn Budke who held the post for GOP Governor Carruthers in the mid-80's.

Jon Barela, who ran a respectable race against Dem Martin Heinrich for the ABQ congressional seat, is on the Rhoades panel. Could he be named economic development head? There was talk of it even before Heinrich beat him. Now he's on the panel that will recommend who fills the post. If he does get the job, it would remind us of how Dick Cheney headed a committee to find Bush a vice-president and ended up recommending himself.


Communications with the media were not a strong point of candidate Martinez. For the transition she's named Danny Diaz, 35, to handle the chores. He has deep ties to Bush-Cheney and was communications head for the GOP National Committee.

He has a consulting business, is a native of DC and lives in the DC suburbs with his wife and three children. Diaz is from the PR world and has no newsroom experience. He consulted on Martinez's campaign. No word yet on whether Diaz will take the post when the administration begins January 1. Hungry New Mexico news reporters are still advised to submit their applications,

Speaking of which...After we blogged Monday that readers were pointing out that Martinez's transition Web site had a link to donate money along with one to submit your resume, the donate link was removed. They must have thought it looked as bad as those readers did.


With the caveat that you get what you pay for, we offer the following...

Putting on our old PR hat for a moment, we would advise the new Gov to lighten up when it comes to the press. She seems a bit shut down in that regard. But it will be the press that makes the key judgment on whether her major goal of running a transparent administration is accomplished. It's amazing how a politician can gab to the press and say nothing and get credit for it. Susana might try it.


ABQ GOP State Representative Larry Larranaga is an old government hand (and a longtime commentator on our KANW Election Night broadcasts) and is now expressing an interest in joining the new administration. But there might be a problem. If Governor-elect Martinez took Larry out of the state House for a job with her, his replacement in Santa Fe would be named by the Bernalillo County Commission which is controlled by the Dems. If they replaced Larry with a D, as expected, that would give the new Governor one less vote in the now very competitive House. With Larragana there, the R's need only three Dem votes to capture a majority vote. With him gone they would need four. (A county commission gets to fill a vacancy when a representative or senator represents only one county). But then the whole back and forth is academic. Voters last week failed to approve a constitutional amendment which prohibits sitting legislators from joining the cabinet. Sorry, Larry.

ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who challenged Martinez in the primary and who will be leaving the Legislature in January, has also made noise about wanting to join the administration. She may face some political treachery in doing so. Darren White, ABQ public safety chief, is a longtime foe of Arnold-Jones and he is close to the Martinez team.

As for White leaving ABQ Mayor Berry's City Hall and going back to Santa Fe where he once served as head of the state Department of Public Safety, that remains a possibility. If White got his old job back or something similar, he could have a statewide platform to sound-off which could refresh his political ambitions. He lost a congressional race in 2008.


A final sit down on Campaign 2010 in the cozy confines of "Eye on New Mexico" on KOB-TV which aired this past Sunday.


Our Monday missive about the maneuvers over the speakership of the state House brought interesting reaction from former ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle:

Joe I really enjoyed your analysis but I had to laugh at one of the comments from one of your Alligators. They said of Dem House Speaker Ben Lujan's efforts to get the votes for re-election:

He could offer them committee chairmanships, safer districts when legislative reapportionment is done later this year and more capital outlay for their areas.

First of all, offering safer districts is not going to be a good selling point. There are 33 R's in the House that are going to have a say in the reapportionment maps drawn as well as those in the Senate. And not to forget, the Guv's office is not going to be held by the D's. Delivering safer districts is going to be very difficult

Lujan offering capital outlay funds to get Dem legislators to stay with him is also going to be a hard sell. The state is broke and the 4th floor can wield the veto pen.

Another thing could be interesting. With a 37-33 Dem to R spilt committee assignments will be evenly split and committee chairs are not going to able to have their members absent from the committee meeting. Also, the next speaker will face the same problem on floor votes. There will not be much a margin for Republicans to be off the floor presenting legislation in front of Senate committees. Scheduling votes is going to be a bear.

Good points, Rory. The respective party "whips," charged with rounding up votes on the floor are going to earn their keep in the next 60 day session that begins January 18.


Dianna Duran of Tularosa, The first Republican to be elected Secretary of State since 1928, says of her new job:

You either love elections or you hate them. I love conducting elections with all the deadlines you have to meet. It's exciting and it's critical.

Duran's Otero County state senate seat will go vacant when she moves into the SOS office. New Governor Martinez will name a replacement to fill out the two years left on Duran's term.

And what about Roswell State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair? He gets a feather in his cap for successfully managing Duran's campaign. Insiders speculate about him possibly going to work for Duran. We'll wait and see on that.


Blog reader Steve Crowder comes with this chuckle:

Joe, It seems like Jon Barela didn't have quite enough support to pull off the "Heinrich Remover."

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