SFR Pick: Diane Denish, Democrat
dianedenish.com; Lt. Gov. Brian Colón, electcolon.com
The stakes: The next governor will take over a state with a fiscal crisis--a $260 million budget shortfall to maintain operations as they are. The next governor also will (theoretically) sign off on the Legislature’s 10-year redistricting plan.
The candidate: Hobbs-native Diane Denish has served for eight years as Gov. Bill Richardson’s lieutenant governor. She was particularly involved in legislation creating the Sunshine Portal Transparency Act, to create online public access to important state documents, and the Missing Persons Act, which amps up efforts and procedures in that area. She also has worked on a variety of youth, small business and anti-predatory-lending initiatives.
The Richardson factor: At the heart of New Mexico’s race for the next governor is the turmoil and baggage of the current one. Voters are justified in demanding a fresh start, and deserve a governor who is open and responsive, and who avoids even the appearance of impropriety. However, in this race, Republican Susana Martinez is the candidate who seems most likely to follow in Richardson’s footsteps.
The bottom line: Susana Martinez is the first gubernatorial candidate in this newspaper’s history who declined to come in for an endorsement interview. So even if her ideas trounced Denish’s, we’d be hard-pressed to endorse her. Why? Because the strongest tools against corruption, waste and bad policy are transparency and accessibility. Denish has a strong track record in these areas.
The decision: Martinez’ proposals for New Mexico’s next four years are vague, often predicated on exaggerated statistics, and strongly indicate a cookie-cutter approach to policy that would benefit industry more than individuals. Denish has been unfairly cast as one of the good-old boys, and her campaign has failed to successfully override that image. But the next governor shouldn’t be chosen based on her charisma, her campaign strategy or her last boss. She should be judged on her ideas and her track record. Denish is a worker whose efforts have been consistently aimed toward improving New Mexico with no-nonsense and equitable solutions.