Friday, November 22, 2013

National Journal Looks at "The Fifth Floor"

The one story that's going to be dominating political conversations in New Mexico for the next few days is the National Journal's profile of Gov. Susana Martinez's political consultant Jay McCleskey.

The headline of the lengthy piece is direct: The Man Who Discovered Susana Martinez Could Also Be Her Downfall.

In the article, writer Daniel Libit writes about several state controversies involving McCleskey -- the Downs at Albuquerque deal, complaints by former state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, the divisive 2012 GOP state Senate race in Clovis, and in general, McCleskey's influential role in the administration.

It's one of the only national stories concerning Martinez that has been  anything less than flattering. After cataloguing some of the praise Martinez has received in the national press, Libit writes:

But back home, some of her key allies were finding that courage in short supply. They had begun to see Martinez not as a fresh-faced technocrat, but as a callow figure who had placed far too much trust in a single political aide, the 39-year-old McCleskey, whom many here view as the "Karl Rove of New Mexico." Yes, he discovered her and transformed her from a county district attorney into a national force. But these Martinez allies say that his mercenary, dog-eat-dog style of politics now superseded the act of governing, and that he had effectively walled off any other voices from pricking the governor's eardrums, let alone her conscience. 

McCleskey responds in the story:

"As is the job of any political consultant, my role is not to be loved, but rather to be effective at winning campaigns and garnering support for the policies pursued by those who have been elected," McCleskey says. "I am proud of that record of success, and the petty whining, sniping, and resentment of malcontents doesn't bother me. ... Any leader who breaks the mold and challenges the status quo, like Governor Martinez does, will face criticism, even from within her own party."

One Martinez loyalist already has trashed Libit as a "liberal columnist" who merely reprinted Martinez critic Joe Monahan's "tired blog material."

But libertarian Republican Aaron Henry Diaz tweeted a link to the article saying, "Think you know New Mexico politics? So it begins... the rest of the story."