By Tracy Dingmann
In an editorial today, the Albuquerque Journal took baby steps toward actually holding Gov. Elect Susana Martinez responsible for the big job ahead of her.
The Dec. 7 editorial, called “Martinez Has Familiar Choice: Govern or Run,” acknowledges the national attention Martinez is getting from the national media following her election as New Mexico’s first female Latina governor.
In the editorial, the Journal’s editors take pains to assert – not once, but twice – that all the national attention for Martinez is “warranted” and “for good reason.”
But the editorial also sounds a note of caution for the incoming governor:
Martinez hasn’t even been sworn in and is being mentioned as a top prospect for the 2012 vice presidential nomination. While the attention is likely as flattering as it is warranted, it puts Martinez at the same crossroads Richardson faced four years ago.
To govern or to run, and to embrace all that choice entails.
New Mexico’s voters made their choice Nov. 2. They can only hope Martinez proves them right.
The editorial’s somewhat scolding tone was a change from the rampant Martinez cheerleading coming from the state’s paper of record up until now.
Take this Dec. 1 Journal story, “National Noise Starts Early for N.M.’s Martinez,” which was essentially a rehash of an astonishingly premature Nov. 29 commentary by Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis called “”Why the next Republican VP nominee will likely be Hispanic.”
From the Journal story by John Robertson about the Politics Daily piece:
Lewis cited the growing percentage of Hispanic voters and Republicans having “a new generation of qualified Hispanic leaders.” For the 2012 vice presidential nomination, he wrote, “The two most obvious picks would be Florida Sen.-elect Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov.-elect Susana Martinez.”
Other pundits had called her a rising star, but Lewis took more aim. “My very premature prediction is that Rubio and Martinez are already on the short list for vice presidential picks in 2012,” he wrote.
Anyway, back to the Journal’s editorial. It was supposed to be all about Martinez – but somehow, the paper’s editors managed to make it a platform for another dig at the outgoing Gov. Richardson. Saying they hope Martinez doesn’t get her head turned by all the national attention, they wrote:
(New Mexicans) have to look no further back than Gov. Bill Richardson, who was big on traveling and big on raising money amid talk of a presidential run, then a vice presidential nomination, then a spot as a diplomat or Cabinet secretary soon after voters granted him a second term.
There just one little problem with the paper’s argument – in national experience and expertise, Martinez is no Richardson.
Currently popular or not, Richardson served New Mexico for more than 14 years in Congress as a highly accessible and effective U.S. Representative. He also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and as U.S. Secretary of Energy before he ever sat one day as New Mexico governor. New Mexicans elected him governor in 2002 and then again in 2006 by the largest margin ever in state history.
Martinez has 20 years as a county prosecutor under her gun belt -and not one day as governor.
So, I dare say that applying some kind of cookie-cutter analogy to the two doesn’t really hold water at this (extremely early) point.
Let’s sum it up, shall we?
The fact that the Journal is beginning to hold Martinez accountable for the job she’s been elected to do – GOOD.
The fact that the paper is buying into the national hype about Martinez and comparing her with the experience and expertise of Bill Richardson – BAD.