ICYMI: New Mexico Governor Martinez “Went From Bright Promise to Underachiever”
As national rankings consistently list New Mexico’s governorship among the most likely to change parties nationwide, a new column in the Santa Fe New Mexican takes inventory of the many ways in which Republican Governor (and former RGA Chair) Susana Martinez has failed the people of her state.
Read excerpts from the column below or the full piece online HERE
Governor went from bright promise to underachiever
With a little more than two weeks remaining in this year’s state legislative session, the persistent question at the Capitol is how two-term Gov. Susana Martinez will be remembered.
The answer is easy.
Martinez has established herself as one of the biggest underachievers in state history.
Few have bludgeoned the chance to make a difference the way Martinez has. The Republican governor, 58, has squandered what should have been the best eight years of her life.
…Her grasp of state government was thin, but sizzle often matters more than substance in campaigns.
Reality set in after Martinez won the election. She found that running for office and excelling in office are two very different skills.
As governor, she picked unnecessary fights right from the start. In one, she attacked the movie industry, which was putting people to work during a long, cold recession.
Martinez did not like the tax rebates that filmmakers received for shooting in New Mexico. She raged about it, hurting the state’s economy.
This was one of many battles Martinez manufactured with Democrats who control the Legislature.
In another, she wanted to repeal the law that allowed undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico to obtain a state driver’s license.
Then-state Rep. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, offered a compromise bill to Martinez in 2011. But she continued fighting with Democrats about driver’s licenses for another six years. Martinez finally accepted a bill to allow driving privileges for undocumented immigrants that was quite similar to what O’Neill had proposed long before.
Martinez also picked the wrong people for important jobs.
She put Hanna Skandera, who had never been a teacher, in charge of public schools. Skandera copied programs, most of them unsuccessful, that Jeb Bush had put in place when he was governor of Florida.
Worst of all, though, Martinez never had a plan to improve the state.
Her 2013 corporate tax cuts, abetted by Democrats in the Legislature, reduced state revenues and caused more pain for public schools.
Martinez last year vetoed funding for colleges and universities. That move affirmed her standing as a pugilist without a purpose.
It was laughable when Martinez began this 30-day legislative session by talking about how important it is to reform the state’s messy tax code.
She could have made that statement in 2011, her first year in office, and found plenty of support for cutting through the thicket of tax exemptions to uncover the ones that help nobody except the recipient of a government giveaway. But Martinez was so obsessed with driver’s licenses, moviemakers and grading public schools that she shoved important issues down the agenda.
She has been running out the clock on her second term since December 2015. That was when her boozy holiday party at the Eldorado Hotel brought complaints from guests.
Martinez, supposedly a champion of law enforcement, tried to use her title to intimidate Santa Fe police, who were summoned to investigate the party.
Any chance she had to be effective as governor ended that night.
Martinez does not leave office for 11 more months, but her record is clear.
She put in her time, padded her pension and governed like a prosecutor.
Summing up her years as governor is not about a legacy. It is a political obituary.