Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Governor still has political life

Maybe I wrote Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s political obituary too soon.

Not so long ago, after the governor issued a public health order restricting the carry and concealment of guns in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, a firestorm of protests broke out statewide. Some Second Amendment proponents defiantly brandished their firearms in public protests over her order, and even some of her fellow Democrats said she was overreaching her constitutional authority. It made national news and Lujan Grisham was widely criticized.

I expected to hear from the anti-gun crowd, and indeed some backed up her emergency order, but not so many as I expected. Even this bleeding-heart inky wretch compared the unpopularity of her action to the missteps of her gubernatorial predecessors Susana Martinez and the late Bill Richardson, whose popularity declined after an inappropriate pizza party call (Martinez) and pay-to-play allegations (Richardson).

I really expected that, with the backlash from Lujan Grisham’s order, she would read the political tea leaves and back off. Instead, as the 30-day order was set to expire, she doubled-down and renewed it, even tacking on an additional mandate that the state Department of Public Safety set up gun buy-back events in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Española to further her effort to get more guns off the streets.

Then there’s her hydrogen energy initiative. For a couple of years now she’s been pushing for a big investment of state and federal funds to build a hydrogen production facility, but it appeared as if that was derailed when President Biden allocated about $7 billion to seven states — excluding New Mexico — for hydrogen development.

You would think that would have killed her plans, especially since she and Biden are fellow Democrats, but that’s not the case. Again, she doubled down, and within days announced that she would be participating in the Asia Pacific Hydrogen summit in Australia. She then came back with a New Mexico deal for the research and manufacturing of hydrogen.

The Australian-based company Star Scientific has now signed a letter of intent to expand into North America by way of New Mexico — looking to acquire up to 50 acres of land and invest as much as $100 million into locating in the Albuquerque area, creating up to 200 jobs in-state, the governor’s office announced.

You’ve got to admire Lujan Grisham’s tenacity even if you don’t like her governance. She’s pushing this state forward, in the direction she envisions, whether her detractors like it or not.

And it’s working. State Police has stepped up its efforts to control the violence that has besieged Albuquerque — with “proactive operations” aimed at arresting violent felons and scheduling those gun buy-back events she ordered.

Perhaps the fact that she’ll be term limited out as governor in 2026 factors into her decision to confront the issue of gun violence head-on and to plow ahead with hydrogen production despite the federal government’s lack of support. I’ll be surprised if she seeks another elective office after serving eight years as governor and six years in the U.S. House; I’ll be less surprised if she takes a job in the Biden administration, assuming he’s elected next year.

Contrary to what I suggested earlier, Lujan Grisham’s political life isn’t dead yet, so her loyal opposition will just have to wait on her retirement.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 
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