You do see people go from the “business / we solve problems” part of the world to the “politics / we talk about problems and periodically solve them” part of the world, although increasingly it feels like there are a lot of political lifers in the mix in top races (every politician has their side thing, though, be it a lawyer or a professor, etc.) Now Alan Webber, who founded the business magazine Fast Company, is running for Governor of New Mexico as a progressive Democrat. (Webber is also a graduate of Harvard Business School and a former managing editor of Harvard Business Review.) As such, he bills his campaign around him being “an expert on change and innovation in the knowledge economy,” which makes sense, because if I had to describe Fast Company magazine in 1-2 sentences, that’s probably how I’d describe it. He could use that angle to be successful in New Mexico, because, as he points out:
Today, New Mexico ranks almost last in new jobs created and dead last for overall child wellbeing. Nearly 20% of our people live at or below the poverty line. We’re behind — and under the current Republican administration, we’re falling further behind. We need change to get New Mexico moving in the right direction. We need new leadership that will focus on investing in our children’s education, promoting jobs by growing New Mexican businesses, and offering a realistic path out of poverty for New Mexico’s working poor. There’s a bright future that’s waiting for New Mexico if we all work together. I want to use my values, talents and passion to create that better future.
This all begs the ultimate question of politics, though: your candidacy can be super interesting, but does it matter if you can’t win? (Answer to that: no.) So can he win? Let’s see.
There are five Democrats entering the primary; the most notable name for Webber to upend would probably be Gary King, the current Attorney General of the state. Whoever ultimately comes off the Democratic line will face incumbent Governor Susana Martinez, the first Hispanic female Governor in the U.S. Her approval ratings were, at one point, north of 60 percent — she’s a Republican female Governor (and Hispanic!) in a state previously dominated by Bill Richardson (good friend to the Clintons). Her numbers have dipped to 55 approve/29 disapprove, so it will still be tough for the eventual Democrat to unseat her. Public Policy Polling did a Martinez vs. King simulation two years ago, and Martinez won by double digits.
Webber apparently wrote a memo in the 1970s urging the city of Portland (where he lived at the time) to take great lengths to make sure people didn’t buy/own cars, which could theoretically come back to haunt him — although really, I don’t think anyone should be judged on what they did in 1971 at this point.
Webber seems to be structuring this all around “keen business sense,” “failed GOP policies” and “early childhood education.” (Other issues still to come.) There isn’t major polling data yet on the five Dems in the race, although it looks like the primary will be June 3. Webber has never run for elected office before, and his name might pop bigger in the Northeast corridor (business journalism + Harvard ties), but if he hits the right messages — including pegging King as someone that can’t think outside the box of politics — he may have a shot. Regardless, it’s an interesting race to watch; it might not be Michaud vs. LePage or Pryor vs. Cotton, but it should be fun.