Governor hopeful testing waters

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

Allen Weh said Tuesday he’s not officially running for governor yet.

But he also said he’s made his first campaign promise, and he’s running his exploratory campaign as if he is a candidate — and people can draw their own conclusions.

“We’re doing this in a campaign mode,” said Weh, “so we don’t look back and say, ‘We should have done this, we should have done that.’”

Weh visited several New Mexico communities, including Clovis and Portales. Weh, 66, is the chief executive officer of CSI Aviation Services Inc., and completed a four-and-a-half year stint as chairman of the state Republican Party in January.

Weh is a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and Somalia, and Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

He addressed two issues on his trip to Clovis:

• Business: Weh said a government should provide basic services, including education and public safety, and leave other elements alone.

“Frankly, there are some people in society who do not understand commerce is the engine of our economy,” Weh said. “Those are dangerous people, because if they don’t understand it, they hamper the economy.”

He said too many environmental regulations have been created by agencies without the input of the Legislature. And, he said, the regulations do more to hurt the business climate than improve the environment.

He said an executive order would take care of many of those problems.

• Education: Weh, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of New Mexico, said education is tied into the economy because businesses depend on skilled labor.

Education Week’s “Diplomas Count” report showed New Mexico had a 56 percent high school graduation rate in 2006. Weh said that meant 44 percent aren’t graduating, and rounded up to say half of New Mexico’s kids aren’t graduating.

“If you’ve got a labor pool that’s handicapped by that kind of dropout rate,” Weh said, “it becomes harder to attract business.”

Weh said he supports school vouchers to give competition and an option for parents who live in bad school districts.