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SANTA FE — What sort of governor should New Mexicans try next? If you are a Republican, you have a very wide range of choices available on your June ballot.
When it comes to how each of the five GOP candidates would run state government, the differences couldn’t be more extreme.
Former GOP state chairman Allen Weh seems to be the front-runner. He has now sunk $1 million of his own money into the campaign; most of it for a very large TV buy.
Weh says he’ll take a no-nonsense, hard-nosed approach to running state government. He vows to take a baseball bat to Santa Fe to clean up governmental inefficiency and corruption. Not much doubt about how he’d run things, is there?
Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez says her 13 successful years running that office qualifies her to run state government. The word is that she is a tough boss. Some say even mean.
Despite Weh being the immediate past state GOP chairman, Martinez is reported to be the favorite of Republican officials. The fascination with Martinez goes all the way back to John Dendahl, state GOP chairman in the late ‘90s.
When Martinez was first elected district attorney. Dendahl began efforts to convince her to run for attorney general in 1998. The party has been encouraging her ever since. Martinez is the leading GOP candidate in raising money from outside her own pocketbook.
Doug Turner, owner of a successful Albuquerque public relations firm, played a major role in former Gov. Gary Johnson’s 1994 and 1998 victories. At 41, Turner is the same age as Johnson when he was elected.
Like Johnson, Turner has strong libertarian tendencies and might be expected to run government much like Johnson — likely with fewer vetoes, however. Johnson has not endorsed any candidate in the race but says Turner would make a fine governor.
Albuquerque lawyer Pete Domenici, Jr. says he will take a hands-off approach to running state government. He favors appointing knowledgeable, honest people to run agencies and then staying out of their way. He says his appointees would be held accountable but not micro-managed.
Domenici says that approach keeps decisions out of the governor’s office and keeps lobbyists out of the governor’s office and allows people to do business with the state at the appropriate level.
State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones manages the Albuquerque office of a nuclear energy consulting company. She has been a leader in technology legislation and almost single-handedly brought transparency to the state Legislature by Web casting committee meetings against the wishes of the House leadership.
Arnold-Jones says moving a bureaucracy like state government requires a great amount of know-how. Bureaucracies defend themselves against change, she says, you have to kind of sneak up on them to move them forward.
So there you have it. All the way from a baseball bat to hands-off management. Hard-nosed to treading softly and sneaking up. Which do you think will be best for New Mexico? They are all good candidates and all will stay close to the GOP platform. The difference will be in style.
The winner will go up against Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. And there we will see another contrast in style. Lieutenant governors don’t really have an opportunity to display their management styles. It is a difficult office from which to advance because there isn’t much to which one can point.
Lieutenant governors don’t have any duties other than to preside over the Senate and be ready to take over from the governor. Had Gov. Bill Richardson moved on to other things during the past year, Denish would have had an opportunity to show voters what she can do.
As it is, she only can point to the businesslike manner in which she has run the Senate in the past eight years and the plans she has if elected governor.
E-mail Jay Miller at email@example.com.