A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Jan. 1, 2012
Looking back on some of the political stories of 2011, I said to myself, "Some of these guys take the prize!"
So here's those prizes:
Why Do You Think They Call it Dope Award: To former Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr., who blamed an addiction to prescription drugs on the idiotic antics — fraudulent use of state gasoline cards, etc. — that led to criminal charges and to Block being forced to resign from the commission. That alone would have been enough to win this award, but Block put a cherry on this sundae by his multiple arrests for violating his conditions of his Drug Court program, eventually getting booted from the program.
Law of Unintended Consequences Award: To various tea-party organizations around the state for their last-minute drive to sandbag State Rep. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who was making an insurgent challenge to unseat House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Námbe. This opposition to Cervantes scared enough House Republicans away from Cervantes' proposed coalition with conservative Democrats to keep Luján in power for another two years.
Second prize in this category goes to Speaker Luján for taking revenge on Rep. Andy Nuñez, D-Hatch, who was one of the most vocal supporters of the Cervantes coalition. Luján stripped Nuñez of his chairmanship of the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee. Nuñez responded by switching his party registration from Democratic to declined to state, thus making the already shaky Democratic majority in the House even shakier. Now there are 36 Dems and 33 Republicans.
Party Hopper Award: Until last week Nuñez was the shoe-in for this category. But then last Wednesday former Gov. Gary Johnson officially changed his registration from Republican to Libertarian, so he can seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for president. In announcing the switch, Johnson described himself as a "lifelong" Republican, but said the GOP had snubbed him during his frustrating, tractionless campaign for the Republican presidential nomination this year.
Supreme Court Piñata Award: To Gov. Susana Martinez, whose actions in various areas have led to numerous challenges before the state's high court, which sided with the governor's challengers. In two separate cases, the Supremes ruled against Martinez's partial vetoes of bills passed by the Legislature. In other cases, the court ruled that Martinez lacked authority to arbitrarily remove two members of the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board and ordered her to reinstate the two members; and that the governor acted improperly when she requested the state's records administrator delay publishing greenhouse-gas emissions rules that the state Environmental Improvement Board approved shortly before she took office.
Liberal Use of Conservative Award: This conservative award goes to the conservative Heather Wilson, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate — as a conservative. It seems that every one of her conservative news releases uses the word "conservative" about a dozen times. And that's a conservative estimate. When she ran for Senate in 2008, primary opponent Steve Pearce painted Wilson as a "liberal." Conservative as she is, Wilson, a conservative, is doing her conservative best to ensure that the L-word doesn't stick this time.
Most Cheerless Holiday Cheer Message Award: To former Gov. Bill Richardson for a recent comment to reporters in the Roundhouse who asked him about his most recent grand jury investigation. That investigation is about allegations that Richardson hit up campaign contributors to raise hush money for a former state employee who claims she and Richardson had an affair. But Richardson's only response to the pesky reporters was growling "Merry Christmas" and walking away.