If presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is utilizing the current pandemic crisis to audition potential running mates, there’s no shortage of failure among his possible choices. No doubt Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer steals the headlines for her divisive actions. However, New Mexico Gov, Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to build a resume of failure not to be ignored.
Just like many other states, New Mexico instituted massive “stay at home” public health orders in March. In a recent glowing story courtesy of The New York Times, Ms. Lujan Grisham will get credit in Camp Biden for continuing to blame the Trump administration for any perceived errors.
The first problem for Ms. Lujan Grisham is the other states doing a better job of fighting COVID-19 — a much better job. As of Monday, a whopping 27 states and territories are more effectively protecting their citizens from the pandemic when adjusted for population. All of those states are dealing with the same federal government, yet they are able to better protect their citizens.
Lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic? You’re not alone with well over 100,000 New Mexicans seeking unemployment assistance. While staggering job losses are not isolated to New Mexico, the bumbled response from Santa Fe is “unique.” Newly unemployed families are reduced to tears and are forced to call the state for help 300 times — in a single day. The governor apologized for the colossal failure, but that’s little comfort to families who were enjoying an incredible economy earlier this year.
New Mexico is a state blessed with massive energy resources and the workers who responsibly develop oil and natural gas. Until recently, their efforts delivered more than 100,000 jobs and billions in revenue funding nearly 40 percent of the entire state budget. Let’s be clear, the crash in oil prices can’t be blamed on leadership in Santa Fe. However, the governor’s overspending has led New Mexico to a massive $2 billion deficit.
In less time than it took for Ms. Lujan Grisham to get to the halfway through her first term, New Mexico went from the largest budget surplus in state history to the largest budget deficit. Unfortunately, the governor’s inability to recognize economic consequences are not solely out of negligence; it also borders on malice.
Just over a month into New Mexico’s shutdown, small-business owners pleaded for help from Santa Fe. In response, the governor’s communications director took to Twitter accusing anyone who wanted to responsibly reopen as being members of a “death cult.” The governor still hasn’t denounced the comments.
Even worse, the very same week business owners and unemployed New Mexicans were begging for help from the COVID-19 pandemic, their governor wasn’t working for them. In fact, she really wasn’t working at all. Ms. Lujan Grisham’s calendar shows a state executive who doesn’t average more than half-a-day’s work while the state goes through the worst crisis in decades.
It all adds up to a less-than-stellar audition to be a running mate in a national campaign. Instead, Ms. Lujan Grisham’s performance is worse than Ms. Whitmer’s or many other governors in the country.
That’s an audition that should be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
• Larry Behrens is the Western states director for Power The Future.
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