Same story, second verse

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Leaders eye new governor for vice president

By Jay Miller

Are New Mexicans about to get the same story: second verse? During Susana Martinez’s year-long quest for the governor’s office, no one talked publicly about the possibility of her being the GOP vice-presidential nominee two years hence.
Late in the primary campaign, it became very obvious that state and national GOP leaders had pegged her as their favorite.
Those of us not in the party structure were very surprised to see her crush four other candidates badly at the Republican pre-primary nominating convention in March.
In late May, we were even more surprised to see huge out-of-state  cash donations rolling into the Martinez campaign and a reprimand of her closest competitor by the state party brass.
Martinez produced another lopsided victory margin in the June primary. But with a campaign account severely depleted by a bruising primary, the general feeling was that she would be swamped by Lt. Gov. Diane Denish’s $2 million war chest with which she was starting her campaign.
But Susana didn’t miss a step. Her money kept rolling in, much of it from outside the state. It was obvious the national folks really liked her and felt she could win and guarantee Republicans some cover in next year’s legislative and congressional redistricting.
The day after the Nov. 2 general election, it finally dawned on us folks out in the stacks that GOP leaders had bigger plans for Susana.
National blogs, and soon newspapers, were alive with speculation about Martinez as the perfect GOP vice presidential candidate in 2012.
After watching George W. Bush capture 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, Republicans realized a Hispanic on the ticket might carry some real weight. This year, they also found themselves doing better with women than usual.
Wow. What if we could find an Hispanic woman of sufficient stature? That would make us difficult to beat. Hey, I hear the New Mexico Republicans have an Hispanic woman in their gubernatorial primary. Let’s take a look at her.
So now Susana is on everyone’s short list for vice president in 2012. She’s being invited all over the country to appear on panels about new faces in the Republican Party. Could we be in for another partly or mostly absent governor in our future?
You know the rest. She’ll deny her interest and tell us she only cares about New Mexico. But she’ll keep going to meetings out of state.  And maybe she might do some things in New Mexico that will look good on the national stage.
Richardson immediately started setting himself apart with “bold initiatives.” He became a tax-cutting Democrat. The RailRunner commuter train and other environmental initiatives made him “The Greenest Governor.” And he took a leadership role on immigration.
Watch for the same types of action from Martinez. She has even dubbed her inaugural ball The ‘Bold Inaugural Ball.'
What does that mean? I’m guessing some bold themes plus some bold invitees to the first-ever invitation-only inaugural ball.
Martinez’s swearing-in ceremony will not be held at the Capitol as usual. It will be held on the Santa Fe plaza. Why do that? It’s a bold change. It’s outside on traditionally the coldest day of the year.
Only the toughest of governors would ever do that. Gov. Jerry Apodaca’s was the last outdoor inaugural.
Some have worried that Susana la Tejana isn’t interested in New Mexico history, tradition and culture. Where better could she be sworn in than on a 400-year-old plaza, with a backdrop of the Palace of the Governors, which now is the Museum of New Mexico?
There will be a Children’s Ball held at the Children’s Museum. What better way to symbolize the new governor’s commitment to children and education?
The only problem with grooming Gov. Martinez for a vice-presidential role is that she has reportedly said throughout her life that she wants to be president. She could have had the GOP nomination for state attorney general in any recent election but she had her goal set higher.

Jay Miller