Martinez, former govs are staying busy...or not

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – As we near the end of the year, let’s pause to see where New Mexico’s political personalities are and what they are doing.
One of the most frequently asked questions wherever I go is “What’s happening with Bill Richardson these days?” He’s back in the news again for a fourth grand jury probe but for those of you who want to know what he’s doing the rest of the time, Richardson has a website www.billrichardson.com.
The site tells about our former governor’s recent trip to central Africa and a recent appearance on Meet the Press. Under the heading “Upcoming Engagements” is the note: No upcoming engagements are available currently. Please check back soon.
So the answer may be that he’s not doing much these days. You’d think he’d get invited to a few Christmas parties or something.
Bill and wife, Barbara, have just finished the purchase of a $1.67 million Cape Cod vacation cottage. Barbara is from the area and loves it. Their permanent residence still is in Santa Fe, however.
Gov. Susana Martinez doesn’t spend any more time in Santa Fe than necessary. She isn’t missing any national meetings of governors and she gets down to her hometown of Las Cruces as often as possible.
When the governor is down south, she’ll dash across the border to see family and her ailing father as often as possible. Our state constitution says that when she is out of state, she also is out of office and the lieutenant governor takes over.
It is a useless requirement in this day and age. She stays in close contact with her staff, which can handle anything when she is gone. The solution is to not even mention the absence. No one is hurt. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez doesn’t file for the extra pay he receives while acting as governor.
He’s not complaining, but others have noticed.
Although Sanchez has an office and staff at the Capitol, reports say he’s usually at home in Albuquerque, conducting state work and probably some personal business and some congressional campaigning.
He can be in constant touch with his staff and the constitution doesn’t require him to live in Santa Fe as it does for other elected officials. That’s because the constitution didn’t envision the lieutenant governor ever being a full time job.
Former Governor Gary Johnson is still in the Republican presidential race but he’s usually on a mountaintop in New Hampshire these days. The former New Mexico governor is disillusioned with the national Republican Party for basically ignoring his presidential candidacy.
It is a strange state of affairs. Former governors usually aren’t given such short shrift.
Johnson at least expected to get an opportunity to present his views on stage with fellow candidates. He has been shut out of nearly every debate and his name hasn’t been included in most polls that help determine who gets into the debates.
What’s his problem? Johnson’s libertarian views are embraced by the Republican Party only when relating to smaller government. And Libertarians like a much smaller government than Republicans.
And when it comes to individual rights, they differ even more. Both Republicans and Democrats believe everyone should have the individual rights with which they agree. Otherwise they make them illegal.
So issues such as gay marriage and legalized drugs drive a huge wedge between the two party beliefs. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has managed to establish a position for himself on stage at Republican debates after having been excluded four years ago.
Johnson had hoped Paul, 76, would choose not to enter the presidential race again this year and would encourage his followers to get behind Johnson. But it didn’t happen.
Might Johnson, like Paul, decide to make another try in four years, hoping that the Republican Party and the news media will give him a shot next time?

Jay Miller