State Sen. Pat Woods, who took office last week, says he has packed a lifetime of lessons into the last eight months. "I guess I got a Ph.D. in politics," said Woods, R-Broadview.
Woods enters the Legislature as a bigger-than-life character, thanks in part to a fellow Republican, Gov. Susana Martinez.
She used her influence in the Senate primary to try to defeat Woods,
sending money and her political might to help his opponent, Angie
More important, the Martinez forces went negative against Woods, a tactic that backfired.
A friend to most in the Clovis area, Woods seemed to pick up votes as the attacks against him escalated.
Woods attended his first committee meeting Thursday, though he was so
reserved he first sat down with the audience instead of the lawmakers.
Rep. Debbie Rodella, chairwoman of the Economic and Rural Development
Committee, and other legislators invited Woods to join them at the
Woods once donated $100 to Democrat Rodella's campaign, saying he
found her to be a hardworking and fair-minded legislator. He also gave
$100 to Sen. Timothy Keller, another Democrat.
Spears and her political advisers used those contributions to try to
paint Woods as a turncoat seeking to buy influence in Santa Fe.
Another claim against him was that he was a lobbyist trying to run
for office. Woods said he used to travel to Santa Fe once or twice a
year on behalf of the Farmers Electric Cooperative Board, an
organization he served for 20 years. But never was he a lobbyist, he
With the mean campaign behind him, Woods is setting his sights on service in the Senate.
Unopposed in next week's general election, he took office early.
Former foe Martinez appointed him as the senator for Senate District 7
after incumbent Clint Harden resigned in October.
Harden, also a Republican, did not run for re-election. He threw his
support to Woods in the primary election, unhappy with the tactics of
the governor and her political adviser.
Even after all the headlines Woods made campaigning, he is still a
mystery man in some ways. He says he will bring his life experiences to
the Senate, including a painful one.
Woods, 63, has dyslexia, but it has not stopped him from being a
voracious reader. Eva, his wife of 41 years, says he pores over books
and newspapers each night, retaining incredible amounts of information.
But, Woods says, he has a hard time speaking in public because of his
dyslexia. Words that ought to flow simply and naturally become
cluttered in his mind when he is in front of an audience.
His sons, Toby and Charlie, had such severe dyslexia that Eva says
they were below-par readers in third grade. One of Martinez's
legislative initiatives is state-mandated retention of thousands of
third-graders who read poorly.
The Woods kids forged ahead instead of being retained. Through study and plenty of help at home, both graduated from college.
Toby taught high school math before becoming manager of the family's
100-year-old farm. Charlie is an electrical engineer in Denver.
"Early childhood intervention is the secret" to kids becoming proficient readers, Woods said.
He also has a daughter, Loralee, who is an
attorney in Roswell. She represented Democratic state Sen. Tim Jennings
before the state Supreme Court last spring, when a rival tried to throw
him off the ballot on technical grounds.
Pat Woods said he had an audience with Martinez before she appointed
him to the Senate. The meeting occurred at his request, and they talked
mostly about capital projects for his district.
Woods said he did not bring up the primary campaign but Martinez did.
She said she committed to support Spears early on. Nothing was said
about the negative tactics.
As a senator, Woods said he would approach the job cautiously, listening and learning before introducing legislation.
But he said a concept he heard about in Utah fascinated him. The idea
is for states to reclaim certain federal land within their borders.
BLM and Forest Service property would revert to state or private
control. Woods said such a system might invigorate New Mexico's rural
economy through more farming, ranching and logging. He also said he
recognized that such a dramatic change would require approval from
But the possibilities of using the land to improve the economy excite him.
"Local control is the best government," Woods said.
He comes to the Senate with some fixed positions. For instance, he
agrees with Martinez that a 2003 law allowing illegal immigrants to
obtain New Mexico driver licenses should be repealed.
But, Woods said, he intends to work with Democrats and fellow
Republicans to spend money wisely, approve laws only when necessary and
"I don't see a big wreck with working with another elected official," Woods said. link