Monday, April 22, 2013

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Gov Makes One List, Left Off Another

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 21, 2013

Gov. Susana MartinezI guess my job just got more important last week. As one of my colleagues in the Capitol newsroom pointed out, I get to cover one of the 100 most important people in the world.

That person, of course, is Gov. Susana Martinez, who was included in Time magazine’s annual list of top 100 “titans,” “icons,” “pioneers,” “artists” and “leaders.” Martinez was included in the latter category.

The governor even got a glowing essay from none other than Karl Rove, who wrote, “If she is re-elected in 2014, her reputation as a reform-minded conservative Republican could grow even more in a second term.”

Is he saluting Susana?
If state Democrats wanted to get all sour-grapesy, they could point out that Martinez shares space on the list with the likes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Igor Sechin, a former KGB official who now is a top honcho in Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Think about what a great attack ad that would make.

However, it probably would backfire because Barack and Michelle Obama as well as Vice President Joe Biden and Pope Francis also are on Time’s list — not to mention another influential person who has spent a lot of time in New Mexico, actor Bryan Cranston of the hit TV series Breaking Bad.

But Martinez did not get a place on another list released last week — political pundit Larry Sabato’s rankings of possible 2016 presidential contenders. Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, listed nine possible GOP candidates, breaking them down into different tiers.

Sabato’s top tier for Republicans included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who was the only governor besides Martinez on on Time’s top 100 most influential list.)

There were six other GOP leaders. But no Susana.

One of Sabato’s Twitter followers asked him about the absence of Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, another prominent Hispanic in the party. Sabato responded, “possible, but more likely as VPs?”

Hold your fire: I thought after last week’s Roundhouse Roundup that I was done writing about the failed House Bill 77, the bill that would have required background checks for people buying firearms from unlicensed dealers at gun shows.

But I thought about that ill-fated legislation when, on Wednesday, I received an interesting news release from the state Republican Party with the subject line “Senate Attempts to Limit Second Amendment Rights Fail.”

The email was referring to the U.S. Senate and its votes that day on several gun-control measures, including the compromise by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., which, like HB 77, would have required background checks for people buying firearms from unlicensed dealers at gun shows. (Manchin-Toomey would have gone a little further and also would have required background checks for Internet gun sales.)

“We at the Republican Party stand firmly in support of protecting the Second Amendment, and we oppose new laws that will do nothing but limit our freedoms and restrict law abiding gun owners,” GOP Chairman John Billingsly said in the news release.

As I pointed out last week, the final version of HB 77 was a bipartisan compromise that House Republican Whip Nate Gentry was instrumental in crafting. It received several Republican votes on the House floor, and Gov. Susana Martinez said she would have signed the bill unless the Senate made major changes in it.

I asked party spokeswoman Jamie Dickinson about this. She replied, “HB 77, introduced by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque), was a bad bill with serious implications. We appreciate the work of multiple House and Senate members to make amendments in an attempt to make the bill less harmful; however, the party opposed HB 77, just as we opposed the measures yesterday in the Senate.”

Still, I can’t help but wonder whether the party would have sent a similar news release had HB 77 passed and Martinez signed it into law.