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The “Me First” Governor’s Final Snub

If Governor Bill Richardson is indeed appointed Commerce Secretary, then the big question that remains is whether for once he will put New Mexico before his own self interests:

“If the governor is called to the Cabinet, I’m ready to step in and lead. And there will be a very smooth transition,” the woman who could soon be the state’s first female governor said in her first news conference since word broke that Gov. Bill Richardson could be the next U.S. commerce secretary.

“It’s an exciting challenge, and I’m ready for it,” [Lt. Governor Diane] Denish told reporters before touring a veterans integration center in Albuquerque.

Later Monday, Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos referred questions about the commerce job to aides to President-elect Barack Obama, but said Richardson and Denish have spoken in general terms during the past week about the potential for a transition.

“Gov. Richardson believes the lieutenant governor is prepared to be a very good governor,” added Gallegos — though he said Richardson is looking forward to delivering his annual State of the State Address to lawmakers Jan. 20.

And, there it is. That final parting shot at the Lt. Governor, and more importantly all New Mexicans… “Richardson is looking forward to delivering his annual State of the State Address to lawmakers Jan. 20. ”


January 20th is the day when all eyes will be turned toward Washington D.C. Regardless of which way you voted, there is no denying that the inauguration of our nation’s first African-American President is a momentous occasion.

Equally important, albeit on a more local scale, is the fact that January 20th would be the first date in New Mexico’s history that the State of the State Address would be given by a female Governor. Yet, Governor Richardson is actually considering giving his farewell address on that date. Why?

What could an outgoing Governor, who has been only an infrequent visitor to the state over the last two years, possibly have to say that is so important? His years in office have set the stage for what promises to be one of New Mexico’s most difficult economic periods, and no self-aggrandizing parting words are going to alter that legacy.

The 2009 State of the State address is not going to be a time for looking back, but a time for facing the numerous hurdles ahead. The make-up of the Legislature in the Senate and the House has drastically changed – both on the Democratic and Republican sides. The budget outlook is looking bleaker everyday with oil and gas prices dropping precipitously from one moment to the next, and municipalities across the state are projecting budget shortfalls as a result of declining property and gross receipt tax revenues.

Yet, rather than giving New Mexicans a chance to hear what our new Governor plans to do about it, Governor Bill Richardson is planning to take the stage one more time. A man abandoning the ship as we head into the storm, and he wants to tell us how to navigate. If Richardson gives the 2009 State of the State, he will confirm what we’ve all known all along. It was never about us. It was always about him.