How do you feel about running unopposed for this seat?
Mixed feelings. I'm very happy to have more time to spend with my daughter. I think campaigns are important; it gives you a way to communicate with voters. It gives them more reason to pay attention when there's opposition. All in all it's good. ***image1***
Why have you made water the biggest issue in your campaign?
We're an incredibly arid state. Right now, estimates vary, but 70 percent of our water is going to agricultural uses, mostly in the southern part of the state. We're using irrigation methods that were state of the art in the 1400s, so we're wasting a lot of water. But the way the system's set up with the law and technology, we're never going to do anything about it-our water system is 'use it or lose it.' People don't want to switch irrigation methods because they don't want to lose their water rights. For example, say you're growing 1,000 acres of chile crop in Hatch, and you're using flood irrigation. You can grow the same chiles for half the water by using drip. But people don't want to do that because you're giving up half your water right by doing so. If the state came in and helped pay for the transition and buy back those unused water rights, we'd have a huge amount of water for conservation and municipal use.
Why'd you drop your state Senate bid?
Because I think [state Rep.] Peter [Wirth, who is running for Senate District 25] does a good job, and I think it's more important for the community to have Peter and me serving together rather than against each other. When you agree so much with someone and your families are friends for decades, it doesn't make much sense to run against each other.
About families-didn't your father run an oil company?
He was on the board of Seven Seas Petroleum. I was never that involved with my dad's business. I know there's a point where he and other board members resigned. Generally, they tried digging a very deep well in Colombia at a really terrible time with the FARC and narcotrafficking, and they decided to try and dig this one really deep oil well and it was dry.
Is there any tension with your father being an oilman and you taking such a pro-environmental stance in your campaign?
He knows my views and he agrees with a lot of where I'm coming from. He's a big proponent of getting away from fossil fuels. He's been a big Democratic supporter over the past few years; he supported Gore and Clinton in '96. You know…he doesn't tell me what to think about politics. He has his business interests; there's not too much of a conflict. We sometimes disagree, but he's my dad-I still love him.
Your family has been involved in politics for a while. Didn't John Kerry have a fundraiser at your house?
In '03. I was one of the first people in New Mexico to help organize the Kerry effort. In 2002, I worked at the Treasury Department with a guy who worked on Kerry's '02 Senate re-election. I'm almost sure it was the day after the election when he said, 'My boss is running for president and we don't know anyone in New Mexico, can you help?' In summer of '03, it was Deanmania. Kerry came to Albuquerque in June, right around the end of the semester in law school [at the University of New Mexico]. He was coming and we were practically bribing people to come, with beers and barbecue. About 25 or 30 people showed up.
Why did you leave your previous employer, the law firm Montgomery & Andrews?
Really, because of the oil and gas issue. They represent a lot of oil and gas clients. I put an op-ed in the New Mexican the first week or two in December. I had this op-ed stating my opposition to drilling in Santa Fe County, calling on the county government to stand up for the people they represent. During my year-end review they said, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'Brian you do great work, but it's hard to explain to our clients why you're punching them in the nose.'
What's the first bill you'll introduce?
I want to do something with oil and gas, then a bill dealing with water and I'd like to propose a constitutional amendment so that we start spending more money out of our permanent fund for education. Most of the education money for the state comes from the extraction of oil and gas on state-owned property. If you go onto state-owned land and get a lease to drill for oil or gas, all of the oil that comes out, you have to pay the state one-eighth royalty. That goes to the state permanent fund for education. It's about $14 million right now and we use the interest off of that to pay for education. I think it's about 5.4 percent; we need to increase that. We need to also have a one-time expenditure to deal with critical infrastructure needs. The argument against it is that this is a rainy-day fund. But I think, our schools, it's not a rainy day, it's Hurricane Katrina. The dropout rate is 7 percent. We need to get more teachers and need to start paying them enough. You have to do that through a constitutional amendment. They did this in 2003, but I don't think it went far enough.
I hear you like whiskey. What's in your liquor cabinet?
I've got some Eagle Rare bourbon. It's a nice Kentucky bourbon whiskey. I've got some Lagavulin, some Caol Ila, some Michter's. I really like scotch. My mom's side of the family is from Scotland…