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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blogging With Newsweek; Their Susana Profile Provides Political Fodder Here, Plus: Did Susana Commit "VP Suicide?" And: The Press And The Guv; Still Honeymooning 

This week we dubbed a 3,000 word Newsweek profile of Governor Martinez "Susana Aglow," commenting that the article was a PR man's dream and implying that she was not pressed hard enough on the possibility of becoming the GOP VP nominee. But the author of that article, Andrew Romano, points out it wasn't really a long love letter to the Guv and that tough questions were presented. On deeper inspection we agree. Here's Romano's email from New York:

1. When I ask how she would respond if the presumptive nominee came calling (for the VP slot), Martinez cuts me off. “No,” she says. “Absolutely no.”

2. At Starbucks, Martinez insists that she won’t leave New Mexico anytime soon. “Partly it’s my responsibility to my sister,” she says. “Moving to Washington would be devastating to her. But also, I need to finish this job. I have to deliver the results I promised, because as the first Hispanic female governor, I’m going to pave a path of some kind. I want it to be one that little Hispanic girls will want to follow.”

Also, I understand that New Mexicans might see a national intro piece as friendlier than Santa Fe's (rightly) adversarial statehouse coverage, but I don't think the story is wholly glowing. This stuff, for example, is almost never mentioned in the NM papers:

Martinez’s record is not without the usual oppo-research fodder. New Mexico progressives accuse her of awarding casino contracts and energy appointments to campaign donors; a mentally ill man named Stephen Slevin was held without a trial for two years at a county prison while she was D.A.; and she was briefly fired in 1992 when her then-boss accused her of bringing in a case her husband had investigated. (Martinez sued, then settled out of court.)

There's also this push back on her budget-balancing claims:

With Martinez, symbolic gestures have at times seemed to stand in for actual political risk-taking. As soon as she took office, for example, she fired the gubernatorial chefs, grounded the gubernatorial jet, and halved the gubernatorial staff. But the cuts she made, while real, were not nearly enough, on their own, to balance the budget--a feat that ultimately required savings and tax hikes phased in from the previous administration, plus a serendipitous spike in oil revenues.

Thanks for that, Andrew. As for Santa Fe's "adversarial" press coverage, there really hasn't been much. The media faithfully track what the administration deems to be news and gets both sides of the story. But after a boisterous and always busy Richardson administration they seem flummoxed by the lack of substantial news coming from the capitol.

THE REAL STORY

What's happened? The Governorship has shrunk since Bill. Sure, Susana is becoming a national figure because of her ethnic background, but the news backdrop in Santa Fe is reminiscent of the late 70's and 80's when laid-back Bruce King and Garrey Carruthers held forth. There are bursts of news but there is no sustained narrative as there was under Richardson.

The real story in Santa Fe is what has not been done and why not. The press has yet to really dig into that, but one supposes it will in the years ahead.

BLOGGING THIS DEAL

One of the advantages of doing a true blog--not one that depends on access to the politicians--is that we can pretty much jump the gun and get to the unvarnished reality. The mainstream media tends to start their adversarial romp when the public signals that it's getting restless. Until then, the sins accumulate but are swept under the rug. Later the rug is lifted and the press and public see all kinds of creepy crawler things scurrying about.

No doubt there will be some of those creepy crawlers surfacing from under Susana's carpet, but probably not hat many. The Achilles Heel of the current administration may be the benign neglect they have adopted towards the major issues of the day. They would argue that this is simply a case of executing their belief that, "The government that governs least, governs best."

That thesis will be put to the test when the Guv seeks re-election in 2014. Right now, it looks like a winner. The Governor is happy, the press is happy and the voters--at least those that pay attention to Santa Fe--seem happy.

To some that may seem like too much harmony for a body politic faced with crushing social and economic issues that continue to restrain the quality of life here among a majority of the population.
Well, what did that old stockbroker in the film "Wall Street" tell the young colleague (Bud Foxx) who was on a big roll?

"Enjoy it while it lasts, because it never does."

VEEP SUICIDE?

Did that Newsweek article amount to "VP suicide" by Martinez? As our Alligators pointed out, she did an about face on immigration policy, steering towards the course she attacked in the 2010 GOP Guv primary. That's probably too moderate for the far right that controls today's GOP.  Here's a take from Salon.com.

First, she indicated support for the immigration agenda that President Obama promises to pursue if he defeats Romney in November. Second, the reforms the first term Republican favors are opposed by every Republican member of the Senate (even those like John McCain, who used to support it) and a solid majority in the House. (In case there was any doubt, the same day Martinez’s interview appeared, Politico reported that the Romney campaign was seeking a “boring white guy” as a running mate.)

Martinez's position may not be suitable for today's GOP but it is where she needs to be for the years ahead when the Hispanic population will make up an ever larger percentage of the population. Also, her chances of becoming Romney's VP have always been near zilch. She is free to roam about the building.

But the change in positions is notable in that it may signal some growth by Martinez as she jettisons some of her hot and divisive rhetoric over immigration. Hey, maybe she'll get off the nearly constant harangue about repealing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and accept compromise legislation? Well, we wouldn't read too much into it yet, but it is a start.

FRUSTRATION FACTOR

We do get the occasional email brimming over with frustration over the go-slow (or not go at all) mood in Santa Fe. This Alligator uses the Newsweek piece to make the pivot:

I love watching the national press try to create a story out of Gov. Martinez being some sort of accomplished, inspirational figure.  At some point, the honeymoon has to end, right?  Newsweek just starts to dip into the incredible lack of accomplishments by the Martinez administration.  She gets to talk, talk, talk and pontificate at Starbucks about her pretend revelatory positions but during that whole trip with Newsweek, did anything get done?  People are starting to wonder, what does she do?  2 years into her administration and there's no plan for jobs or economic development. No plan to deal with federal government shrinkage. No Infrastructure plan. No plan for health care reform. No vision for the state. A Governor needs to be a cheerleader for the state and instead we got a hall monitor who seems to be more interested in managing her complex family situation and tattling on others rather than leading the state....

What's that Alligator trying to do? Put bedbugs in the honeymoon mattress?

GRIEGO SETBACK 

A bit of a media stunner in the ABQ congressional race and a stinger for the self-proclaimed "progressive" candidate. The weekly Alibi, the well-read alternative newspaper in the UNM area, has endorsed not Griego, but rival Michelle Lujan Grisham:

The Alibi Endorses Michelle Lujan Grisham: District 1 Democrats are lucky this year. You’ve got two excellent congressional candidates to choose from. Lujan Grisham has shown that she knows how to work across the aisle and push forward-thinking legislation. She’s an obvious progressive. She also comes across as remarkably passionate about her district, the 99 percent and creating a better life for those who are scraping by in this economy. 

A Lujan-Grisham advocate sniped: "I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at Griego headquarters when that endorsement came down."

Adding insult to injury, Lujan Grisham also beat out Griego earlier this week for the endorsement of the conservative editorial pages of the ABQ Journal.

And, yes, the Marty Chavez campaign surely noticed that the Alibi said there are "two excellent candidates" to choose from. And they didn't mean Marty. His old wounds with progressives have yet to heal.

As for Michelle, she has some Mo and appears to have learned a whole lot since running this same race back in '08.

MARTY'S HIT

Chavez comes with a new TV ad that is sure to be a "hit." It features him in the boxing ring. Now if only the campaign can come with enough funds to get it widespread attention.

KARI'S CORNER

A race for the hot seat of Bernalillo County District Attorney is even hot when the incumbent has a big edge financially and in name ID. And so it is again as Dem Kari Brandenburg faces off with underdog challenger Jennifer Romero. A Romero sympathizer took a dig at Kari on the Wednesday blog and today a Kari supporter--reader Richard Eeds--fires back:

Joe,....The ABQ Journal has never endorsed Kari and that they have endorsed completely unethical and unqualified candidates. Kari has been working seven days a week on the Astorga case in Santa Fe...For her opponent or others to say that she is resting on her laurels is only politics and not true. She has campaigned when she can and is taking nothing for granted.. A candidate for DA should, above all else, be truthful.  Kari is the hardest working and most serious public servant that the voters could ask for, but the politics of the Journal are not those of the Democratic Party. I understand the need to stir the political pot, but at a time when the DA is working her ass off to fulfill her duty, she deserves a lot of credit and the conservative media will surely not do it...

We're not sure the Journal has never endorsed Brandenburg. She is seeking her fourth term so there's a lot of endorsement history there. By the way, a Democratic DA race is all you get. The R's failed to field a candidate so the winner of the Dem primary gets to close up campaign headquarters.

That's it for now. Back here tomorrow.

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