Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Time Of His Life: Teague Says He Is Down From Cloud Nine, But Still On "Cloud Four"; Phone Chat With Obama, Also: More On State Senate 

Teague & Friends
"I've gone from Cloud Nine to Cloud Four," joked Congressman-elect Harry Teague as the euphoria of victory starts to wear off, replaced by the formidable task of becoming the southern congressional district's first Democratic congressman since 1980.

But he was still on Cloud Nine when the phone rang this week and on the other line was the next president of the USA--Barack Obama. "He congratulated me and told me how proud he was of me, but I told him how proud we were of him." Teague told me.

And then there was the jingle to Harry from Hillary Clinton. She also wished him well. Both calls are a testament to the power of the majority party and while the state has lost a bunch of valuable seniority it is good to hear the next Prez and Hillary continue to court the state.

"It is a challenge, but I've got to be the luckiest man alive," happily explained Teague who at 59 is starting a brand new career when most men his age are pondering their retirement accounts and fishing poles.

The avuncular oil field services owner from Hobbs says his son is now running the business while he pores over job applications for his Capitol Hill and district offices. When we caught up with him he said he had narrowed down his chief of staff pick to "four or five" who are from out of state, but most have "connections to New Mexico."

Teague heads to D.C. Monday along with our two other newly elected US House members--Democrats Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan. There they will undergo an intense week-long orientation period into the ways of the House and the simple things like finding out how to get to the restrooms and restaurants.

Teague will live in something similar to a Residence Inn for his first three months in D.C. "After that, my wife will decide what house we will buy," he said.


Of the three new NM congressmen, Teague may have the toughest balancing act. His is a conservative district, but the Congress has become more liberal. He will work to protect the military installations in the district and try not to raise the temperature on the hot button cultural and value issues that could give a potential 2010 GOP opponent an early opening. Also, the lefties are going to have back off some and give Teague breathing room. He is going to have to vote conservative on some key issues.

The R's said Teague did not have the communications skills to be the next southern rep and replace R Steve Pearce, but voters, by a huge 12 point margin, disagreed. Now, the high school dropout who made himself into a successful entrepreneur continues the work ethic that got him to where he is today. "I don't run the business any longer, but now I have my briefing books to read at 4:30 in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up." said Teague, who has shown the state he has political skills they don't teach in books.


Don't look for any of the three new NM US House members to land on any of the "A List" committees in D.C., say my Potomac and New Mexico Alligators. "Heavy hitting committees like Appropriations do not go to freshmen. One of them could get lucky and get a slot on the House energy panel, but the good stuff is doled out on seniority," said one of our in the know Gators.

Still, the three newbies are not expected to set the world on fire in their first term. They are expected to work hard, not miss a lot of votes and be well-informed on all the issues facing our very federally dependent state.


A reader writes in response to the corridor talk heard here that Dona Ana Dem State Senator Cynthia Nava might be a contender for state Senator president pro tem.

I'm really surprised at the notion of Cynthia Nava being "drafted" into a Senate leadership position. Nava is superintendent of the Gadsden School District where they are running a budget deficit of somewhere around the $4M mark. They are going to be cutting upwards of 20 positions and have asked employees to consider taking an extra week of Christmas vacation--unpaid of course. To push forward the administrator in charge of that mess into a Senate leadership position smells like a PR disaster and a media free-for-all.

Duly noted as we prepare for the next round of Santa Fe power-plays.


We inadvertently gave Big Bill deputy chief of staff Bruce Perlman a promotion when he blogged the scuttlebutt that Bruce may be in line to become Sec. of Transportation if Rhonda Faught heads for the exits. The Big Cheese is Brian Condit. There are several other deputy chiefs as well. Which raises the question. If Di takes over as Guv, is she going to keep all those deputy staff chiefs? We rarely see politicos voluntarily giving up positions. Get your resume ready...

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