Congressional hopeful says he knows the ropes

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By Roger Snodgrass

He counts 10 years’ experience in Congress working with Sen. Pete Domenici and a 68-percent majority of the vote from the Republican pre-nominating convention in March.

Santa Fe lawyer Marco Gonzalez has some definite ideas about how his staff’s work in Washington can help fill at least one of the holes in New Mexico’s congressional delegation next year.

“New Mexico can ill afford to send somebody to Congress who can’t hit the ground running,” he said. “I can be effective within the framework of authorizing and funding programs.”

He said he knows how hard it is to get acclimated to Capitol politics, because it took him five years before he had a handle on it.

Without that kind of preparation, “You’ll get spun around like a top up there,” he said. “The way you get an appropriation is by understanding the process.”

Gonzalez is running against Dan East, a Rio Rancho businessman for the Republican congressional nomination for District 3, the seat Democrat Tom Udall will vacate to compete for Domenici’s Senate post.

He wants to be part of what he calls the “post-partisanship” era.

“We really need to end the partisan bickering, of the party, by the party and for the party,” he said, “and get back to of the people, by the people and for the people.”

“We all have to work together to even come close” to filling Domenici’s shoes, he said.

“I don’t agree with those who would change the laboratory’s mission,” Gonzalez said at the outset of the interview. “I would fight against any change.”

Gonzalez said he recognized what he called “an inside the beltway two-step” in efforts to detract from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s national security mission by “dangling something in the future,” to make up for something that is taken away.

What often happens then, he added, is that the promises in the future don’t materialize.

“There isn’t a question that the federal government has asked LANL that they haven’t been able to answer,” he said.

He would urge the Department of Energy to complete the feasibility study on the Reliable Replace Warhead, which has stalled on the House side of the Capitol and believes there is “nothing more critical” than continuing the stockpile stewardship mission.

He blamed the threat of a $400 million budget cut last year for spooking the local housing market and causing a slump in Los Alamos.

On other issues, he said he supports mental health parity, one of Domenici’s priorities, and an affordable and accessible health care. He also called for affordable prescription drugs.

He favors the tax stimulus package because “the American people are hurting and we need to provide consideration and stimulus – on Main Street as on Wall Street.”

He also called for keeping taxes low.

Gonzalez blamed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a “mismanaged and misguided” war in Iraq.

“I want peace in the world and for our troops to come home as soon as possible,” he said, calling for the Iraqi government to step up and do more on its own behalf.

Much of his work with Domenici, Gonzalez said, was on defense appropriations issues.

During his years in Washington, he got his B.A. from Catholic University of America and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

He is a partner in the Santa Fe law office of Modrall Spirling Law Firm, where he has specialized in lobbying and public policy.

He comes from an extended political family in Santa Fe that includes a former mayor and a former county commissioner.