The transition of democratic power in New Mexico might be peaceful, but it's not swift.
After calling a news conference at noon to follow a late-morning meeting, incoming Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez spent another hour and 15 minutes behind closed doors having what an aide called a "really, really, really productive conversation" before finally emerging to talk about getting up to speed at the Roundhouse.
"As I just told the governor-elect in our meeting, it's time to set aside politics to best serve the people of New Mexico," Martinez told reporters. The two-term Republican governor does not leave office with a reputation for building bridges between parties.
The two have deeply held differences in policy and politics, but refrained from overtly criticizing each other.
"We had an incredibly gracious and productive meeting," Lujan Grisham said.
The two said they discussed federal funding, ongoing lawsuits, hiring during the interim and other matters such as getting access to information to build a budget proposal that's due to the Legislature just weeks after the new term begins.
By all accounts, the two Latina governors stuck to logistics during their lengthy meeting. Lujan Grisham said she didn't want to get "mired down in any political issue" that could sidetrack the transition.
"It should be the wish of every New Mexican that governor-elect Grisham is successful, because if she is successful, then we all succeed together," Martinez said, pledging her support for the transition team.
Martinez spent the first moments of the appearance praising the condition of the state and reciting a self-congratulatory litany of statistics of dubious provenance, including the proclamation that "our state's fiscal health is in (sic) the best it has ever been" and "our economy is the fastest-growing economy in the nation."
A Martinez spokesman said the governor was referencing a $2 billion estimate for money available above this year's budget. She's not alone in citing that number—Democrats have, too—but it's not official. The last revenue estimate for "new" money for government is still $1.2 billion, no paltry sum. Thanks largely to oil & gas extraction, the state's bank accounts are flush as Martinez leaves office.
The spokesman also said the governor was referring to a Federal Reserve report declaring New Mexico's economy the nation's fastest growing. He did not provide the report.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the US Department of Commerce said in July that New Mexico had the 42nd fastest-growing economy. The agency expects to issue a new report next week.
As recently as Tuesday night after her victory, Lujan Grisham has said she feels Martinez has leaned too heavily on oil and gas extraction to prop up the state's lagging economy and that the governor has virtually starved critical areas of state government by refusing to fill vacancies.
Martinez, who did not reveal any plans for her post-gubernatorial life, said she was surprised after coming into office from her job as a district attorney how public her life became, and that it took some time to get used to a security detail. She also admitted she would have tried to build relationships with legislators sooner than she did.