A transplanted Santa Fean who’s the former editor of a business magazine is the latest candidate to declare bid for New Mexico governor in 2014.
Is Alan Webber worried that his limited time in New Mexico will hamper his attempt?
“I choose to live here because of its beauty, the richness of its history and culture, the spirit and kindness of its people,” he writes in today’s formal campaign announcement, noting that he’s called Santa Fe home for a decade. “When you choose to be part of something, you hold it close to your heart. You want it to succeed. You see its promise. You want the people who are working so hard to make the state better to be heard and to be successful.”
Webber, a 65-year-old with a home on Canyon Road, has never held elected office, but he’s no stranger to politics. He’s worked in the mayor’s office in the city of Portland, served as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and was an advisor to governors in Michigan and Massachusetts. The former editor of Harvard Business Review, he founded Fast Company magazine and ran it for five years. He's lectured across the nation on topics that marry business and government. Full disclosure: Webber also worked as editor of Willamette Week, a Portland newspaper owned by the same company that owns SFR.
Already, he’s been referred to by pundits as having potential to be the “Gary Johnson of the Democrats,” a nod to a construction company president who ascended to the state’s top job in 1994 without holding another political office. Webber says the biggest difference between the two is that he’s much more of a progressive liberal than Johnson, who later changed his party affiliation to Libertarian.
What’s similar, he says, in addition to their shared not-a-typical-politican approach, is that Johnson got elected when times were tough for the state.
“He came on the political scene when New Mexicans were ready for something different and when people felt like it was time for a change, and I think we are there again. This happens every so often. There is kind of a rhythm to New Mexico. When things are going ok, then business as usual is fine, but when we are in trouble — and we are in trouble now —you need somebody who will shake up the status quo."
Webber might also get lumped with the likes of Johnson because he earned a substantial amount when investor-held Fast Company sold for $365 million in 2000. Does that mean he can be classified as a wealthy, self-funded type?
“I’m not the easiest candidate to put in a box,” he tells SFR. “I had a share of the magazine and, as a rule, I will be investing in New Mexico and I will put some of my money into the campaign. But as a matter of principal, I am not in favor of self-funded candidacy. I think that thwarts democracy.”
He’s the fourth Democrat seeking the nomination in a June 2014 primary race. State Sens. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City have already joined Attorney General Gary King in the race. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez isn’t facing an opponent so far for her party nomination.