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Politics Notebook: Governor says she thinks for herself

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SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez seemed a tad testy when asked Monday about criticisms of her administration by Harvey E. Yates Jr.

According to an article in the National Journal last month, the former state GOP chairman has complained to her about her administration, and in particular the influence of her political consultant, Jay McCleskey.

Asked after a news conference Monday about whether she had become too insular or relied too much on advisers, the Republican governor and former longtime prosecutor bristled.

“Mr. Yates doesn’t know me well enough to even begin to have an opinion on that,” the governor told reporters.

“I’ve been an executive and a political leader for 28 years, and I don’t have anyone tell me how to think.”

The former district attorney said that during her 16-month campaign for governor – she was elected in 2010 – Yates “thoroughly agreed with my policies,” and then once she was elected, he seemed to think “that I need to give up on some of those policies and not follow through on my promises.”

Her spokesman, Enrique Knell, said later in a statement that before Martinez was elected, Yates asked to be charged with developing policy for the administration “and even started drafting legislation.”

“The governor laid out her agenda during the campaign and was not about to break those promises to New Mexicans by allowing a wealthy donor and party boss to come in and determine the policy and personnel of her administration,” Knell said.

“Yates was clearly miffed by this rejection,” the spokesman said.

Not so, Yates said later Monday. He said he never drafted any legislation, although he did suggest before she was elected that she put together a policy team “in order to be able to hit the ground running.”

And he said he was critical of the administration’s tone – not its policies – during the governor’s first legislative session, when “it seemed to me that their approach was a very hard one.”

“What I suggested was the tone needed to be mellowed, and she needed to try to bring people together,” Yates told the Journal.

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