No sweet talk between Govs. Martinez and Richardson

SANTA FE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez and former Gov. Bill Richardson are at it again.

Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey recently engaged in a little fear-mongering at Richardson’s expense, saying the governor’s re-election campaign expects special interest groups will spend millions in an attempt to bring back the “failed policies” of Richardson.

And Richardson took a swipe at Martinez in his new book, calling her “reactionary and vindictive,” and saying she doesn’t understand the culture and history of New Mexico.

The harsh words between the Republican governor and former Democratic governor date back to the 2010 campaign.

RICHARDSON: Called Martinez “reactionary”

RICHARDSON: Called Martinez “reactionary”

Diane Denish, lieutenant governor under Richardson, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, but Martinez ran largely against Richardson, characterizing his administration as corrupt, wasteful and more.

Martinez neatly tied Denish to Richardson by repeatedly referring to the “Richardson/Denish administration.” A Denish campaign spokesman joked that voters probably thought Denish’s first name was Richardson.

When Richardson tried to fight back, Martinez challenged him to a debate. He passed on the offer. After the election, he said she didn’t understand the state budget; she said he was a dishonest spendthrift.

McCleskey seems to be hoping that voters aren’t yet over their hangover from Richardson, who was once wildly popular but left office with his approval rating in the tank.

When the Martinez campaign filed its most recent report on contributions and expenses, McCleskey said this in a written statement:

MCCLESKEY: Critical of Richardson in statement

MCCLESKEY: Critical of Richardson in statement

“We fully anticipate special interest groups will spend millions of dollars in an attempt to return New Mexico to the failed policies of Bill Richardson and Governor Martinez is grateful for the strong support her campaign has received to ensure we have the resources necessary to effectively communicate her positive record of accomplishments and vision for the future.”

There are four announced candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Martinez, the presumed Republican nominee, in next year’s gubernatorial election. They are state Attorney General Gary King, state Sens. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City, and Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber.

The book

You won’t find Martinez’s name in the index of Richardson’s new book, but it’s in there.

MARTINEZ: Richardson declined to debate her

MARTINEZ: Richardson declined to debate her

In writing about his consideration and ultimate denial of a pardon for Billy the Kid, the notorious gunslinger of the late 1800s, Richardson wrote this:

“Predictably, as she prepared to take over the governor’s office, my reactionary, vindictive successor Susana Martinez tried to gain points by claiming she wouldn’t focus on such trivial matters and that considering a pardon of the Kid would be a ‘waste of time.’ But it was easy to dismiss her complaining; she doesn’t understand or appreciate the deep veins of culture and history that course through New Mexico.”

The title of Richardson’s new book is “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator.” He wrote it with Kevin Bleyer.

Richardson, governor from 2003 through 2010, is a former U.S. energy secretary, ambassador to the United Nations and globe-trotting member of the U.S. House.

The book is described as “a rare, candid, and entertaining glimpse into an insider’s world of high-stakes negotiation – showing Richardson’s successes and failures in some of the world’s least friendly places.”

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.



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