Manuel Lujan, a Republican Congressman from New Mexico, was my boss for several years during my time in Washington.
I served as his press secretary and campaign communications consultant in 1982 when Lujan, then a Congressman for 12 years, faced a tough election against then New Mexico Treasurer Jan Hartke, son of former Indiana Sen. Vance Hartke.
He won re-election and I later served as his “special assistant to the ranking member” of the House Science and Technology Committee from 1985-87 — a time when we faced the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the nuclear power reactor meltdown in Chernobyl, Russia, and the rise of the Internet and threats to cyber-terrorism.
I left in ’87 to become vice president for political programs at the National Association of Realtors. Lujan left Congress in 1989, after serving 20 years, and became Secretary of the Interior, where I served as a member of his informal “cabinet of advisors” for four years while also handing out millions of dollars of campaign contributions through the Realtors Political Action Committee.
Lujan taught me many things over the years. He was, and remains, the best friend I have among the elected officials I served or met during 23 years of working in the nation’s capital.
“When it comes to politics, you have to remember this,” Lujan once told me. “Politics is a compound word of ‘poli’ which is Latin for ‘many’ and ‘tics,’ which are blood suckers.”
Good advice from a friend and a master of the political trade.