Governor hopeful vows to clean up state Capitol

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

A potential Republican candidate for New Mexico governor vowed to remove corruption from state government and make the state better for businesses during a stop in Portales Tuesday.

Albuquerque businessman and retired U.S. Marine Allen Weh spoke to the Roosevelt County Republican Party Tuesday in the Portales National Bank Rough Rider Room. Afterwards, he spoke to the Portales News-Tribune.

“When I get to Santa Fe, I’m going to take a baseball bat, and we’re going to clean that place out,” Weh said of restoring integrity.

Weh later said he would force transparency in the state government and eliminate backroom deals.

As for education, Weh said he had people building a plan and would meet with teachers to get their input. He would never know as much about education as a 30-year teaching veteran, Weh said, and he wanted to do what those teachers wanted to do.

Also, Weh cited an Albuquerque Journal report of a 46 percent dropout rate in New Mexico and said corporate chiefs wouldn’t bring their businesses here with a workforce of that educational level. Such a dropout rate wouldn’t allow the state to sustain its current economy, either, he said.

“In order to have effective economic development,” Weh also said, “you have to make the playing field level with Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arizona and Utah.”

On average, he continued, doing business costs more in New Mexico than in surrounding states. Weh wants to work with the Legislature to decrease costs, and he would also like to encourage existing New Mexico businesses to grow, he said.

On state finances, Weh said state leaders would examine the budget as if no one was guaranteed anything, rather than operating from a baseline of last year’s allotments.

“We’re going to get into why you have to spend any money, justify every dollar,” he said.

In a $6 billion budget, Weh said, he could find $600,000 of waste.

If elected, Weh said, he wouldn’t seek other political offices.

“I’m about the business of running for governor,” he said, adding that he expects to make a formal announcement of his candidacy in September.

The Republicans’ meeting and Weh’s speech were not open to the public.