Politicians with the Wrong Purpose

Politicians need a litmus test to help them decide their votes. The best such test is, “Will this help or hurt the people I serve?”

On March 2, New Mexico’s two Democratic U.S. Senators faced an important vote: whether to confirm former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. Udall voted for confirmation. Heinrich voted against Perry, who was confirmed on a vote of 62-37.

Martin Heinrich’s ‘No’ vote reveals a lot about the priorities of New Mexico’s junior first-term Senator.

When President Trump announced Perry’s nomination, Heinrich called Perry “utterly unqualified” to lead DOE. “President-elect Trump has signaled his blatant hostility to the Department and the workforce at our National Labs by nominating someone who has proposed eliminating this entire agency,” Heinrich said.

But during his confirmation hearings, Perry said that he regretted proposing to eliminate the DOE. While governor of Texas, Perry oversaw a budget larger than the DOE’s. During his tenure, Texas led the nation in energy development and in job growth.

While liberal states such as California hampered development of renewable energy sources with cumbersome regulations, Texas lowered regulatory burdens, reduced taxes, and fostered an economic climate that encouraged business investment.

Perry has made it clear that creating jobs and energy independence for America must be balanced with caring for our environment. As proof:

  • He reduced Texas’ carbon footprint.
  • He made Texas the top wind energy state in the nation.
  • He was one of the first governors to sign a law requiring public disclosure of liquids pumped into the ground to access shale oil.

The Energy Secretary’s primary role is to manage our nuclear arsenal. The DOE oversees four national nuclear labs. Two of them, Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), are located in New Mexico.

Nearly 25,000 New Mexicans work at institutions under the umbrella of the DOE. LANL is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world, and one of only two of America’s national labs to design nuclear weapons. With its $2.2 billion budget and 11,000 employees, LANL is New Mexico’s second-largest employer.

Now, imagine that you are a U.S. Senator from New Mexico. You face a vote to confirm a candidate for DOE Secretary who strongly supports energy development and national defense. Do you want to oppose him with your public statements and your vote?

Tom Udall broke with the ideologues in his party, and cast his vote to benefit the people of his state – as did 10 other Democrats.

Martin Heinrich voted not to confirm Perry…a candidate certain to be confirmed. Why?

On this vote – as on so many others – Martin Heinrich chose conformity with his party to advance his personal political ambitions above the best interests of New Mexicans. Heinrich votes with Democratic Party leadership 94 percent of the time.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer represents New York. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi represents California. How many New Mexicans believe that New York and California represent our best interests?

I expect Martin Heinrich will again play lap dog to his Democratic Party masters, and oppose U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch is so qualified that Neal Katyal, a liberal lawyer who served as solicitor general in the Obama administration, called him “a first-rate intellect and a fair and decent man.” Even the liberal New York Times has called him “a plainly qualified judge.”

So, will Martin Heinrich continue to obstruct the well being of the people of his state? Will he continue to be California’s third Senator instead of New Mexico’s junior Senator?

Heinrich has two years left in his term. We will be watching.