Diane Denish

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Diane D. Denish
Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
Former officeholder
In office
PredecessorWalter Bradley
Date of birthMarch 3, 1949
ProfessionBusiness Professional
Diane D. Denish (b. March 3, 1949) is a former Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico, the first woman to hold that post. In that position she also served as President of the New Mexico State Senate. She was elected in 2002, running on the same ticket as current Governor Bill Richardson. They won the election 55%-39% and in 2006 were re-elected by the overwhelming margin of 68%-31%.

There was speculation early on that Denish would run in the 2008 election for the New Mexico Senate seat vacated by Pete Domenici,[1] but she has since ruled out running.

Denish was a candidate for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. By February of 2010, Denish remained unopposed in the Democratic primary.


A lifelong New Mexican, Lt. Governor Denish is the daughter of Jack Daniels, Bill Daniels' brother, and currently the one Daniels family member serving on the Daniels Fund Board of Directors. For twelve years, she owned and operated The Target Group, a successful small business specializing in research and fundraising. She has long been an active member of the business and philanthropic communites in New Mexico.

She is married to Herb Denish, and is the mother of three grown children: Suzanne, Spencer and Sara. She has two grandchildren: Sadie and Spencer.

Political career

Denish has served as Chair of New Mexico First and Chair of the New Mexico Community Foundation. Leadership New Mexico has honored her for her achievements in public service.

Denish has been appointed by three New Mexico Governors to serve in numerous capacities, including as a member of the Board of Regents at New Mexico Tech University, Chair of the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women and on the National Advisory Board of the Small Business Administration under President Bill Clinton. She has also served as Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party. In 1998 she was the Lieutenant Governor candidate on the ticket with Martin Chavez. They lost the race 54%-45% to Governor Gary Johnson. Denish and Chavez were seen as likely rivals in the 2008 Democratic Primary for the Senate, or the 2010 Primary for Governor.

In her capacity as Lieutenant Governor, Denish has led the effort to expand New Mexico small businesses by signing legislation to put more dollars into microlending, an effort that has impacted more than 1,000 businesses across the state. She drove the effort to establish voluntary Pre-K for all New Mexico four-year-olds and spearheaded and signed bold legislation to combat methamphetamine manufacturers and dealers, and criminals who endanger children. She has been instrumental in the creation of affordable housing and improving New Mexico’s education and health care systems.

She serves as the President of the New Mexico State Senate, Chair of the Children's Cabinet, Chair of the Mortgage Finance Authority, Chair of the Insure New Mexico! Council, Chair of the Health Care for New Mexicans Council and Co-Chair of the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism.

Governor of New Mexico

Using federal funds

Denish used $225,000 in federal funds for personal expenses, such as paying for a driver to shuttle her to meetings and press events, a contractor to take Christmas pictures and write Christmas cards, a lawyer to make hotel reservations, opinion polling and public relations services. Governor Bill Richardson gave her these funds for "various projects" and the money came from unallocated federal fiscal stimulus funds transferred to the New Mexico treasury under the 2003 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act.

Under the New Mexico Constitution, the Lt. Governor's only powers and duties are to serve as president of the State Senate, cast a vote in cases of a tie and to succeed to the office of Governor in the case of death, incapacity or removal. "Unlike other executive officers, the state constitution does not even require the Lt. Governor to keep public records, books, papers or seals of public office."[2]

Public funds from Denish also went to a worker for time billed on August 4, 2004, as “work on Kerry for Saturday.” That Saturday, John Kerry rolled into Las Vegas, New Mexico on a train leased by his presidential campaign committee for a political rally. Kerry then went into Albuquerque for the night.

This is the same worker who, a week before, billed and was paid for eight hours described as “DNC media binder, organizing clips, manning front office while Barbara attended day-long class.” This same worker was the one paid with public funds to work on Christmas cards distributed by Denish’s political election committee.[3]

Sued by Allen Weh

Former candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination Allen Weh is suing Denish and the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) to recover attorneys’ fees associated with an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request Weh issued to Denish late last year.

Weh and his attorneys, who are looking for about $11,000 in fees, are waiting to hear back from the outgoing Lt. Governor and the DFA.

In November of 2009, Weh made an IPRA request looking into Denish’s use of $225,000 in federal stimulus money, which was earmarked for jobs creation. Denish’s office — through the DFA – released some documents but they were heavily redacted.[4]

Campaign contributions


See also: New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2010

Denish was the Democratic candidate for the November 2, 2010 Gubernatorial election, facing Republican Susana Martinez. Martinez won the election, with 54 percent of the vote to Denish’s 46 percent, becoming New Mexico's first female governor.[5]

2010 New Mexico gubernatorial general election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Diane Denish 46.51%
     Republican Party Approveda Susana Martinez 53.33%
     Other write-ins 0.17%
Total Votes 601,752

Race background

In the three weeks prior to Election Day, Denish spent $1.6 million, with about two-thirds of that going to advertising. Denish raised $871,304 immediately prior to Election Day. Her biggest donor is the SEIU, which contributed $215,000. Denish and Martinez spent about $5 million during the election cycle, as of November 2, 2010.[6]


2006 campaign for Governor of New Mexico - Richardson/Denish Ticket[7]
Total Raised $13,368,723
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $316,462
Top 10 Contributors
Moving America Forward $487,326 (3.65% of total) Sector: Party
Cap II Properties $141,000 (1.05%) Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
Blanchard, Paul $120,000 (0.90%) General Business
Gulfstream Lomas Ltd. $114,210 (0.85%) Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
Controlled Recovery $112,000 (0.84%) Energy & Natural Resources
Forest City Covington New Mexico $109,249 (0.82%) Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
Perenchio, A Jerrold (Jerry) $102,443 (0.77%) Communications & Electronics
Laborers/Liuna $100,000 (0.75%) Labor
AFSCME $100,000 (0.75%) Labor
$7,014,251 (52.5%)
$5,698,120 (42.64%)


She has received the PNM Entrepreneur Advocate of the Year Award (2006), the Leadership New Mexico Distinguished Alumnus Award (2006), the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award (2005), the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Award (2005), the WIPP Women Impacting Public Policy New Mexico Legislative Leadership Award (2004) the Hispanic Women’s Council Las Primeras Award and the National Child Health Advocate Award (2005).

See also

External links