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Film Industry Gives Kilmer a Pass on Endorsement for New Mexico Governor

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Val Kilmer is a "great guy," but Lt. Gov. Diane Denish should be New Mexico's next governor, says a leader of the union representing the state's film and television industry.

The 49-year-old actor, who lives on a ranch southeast of Santa Fe, has said he's thinking about running for governor in 2010, when second-term Gov. Bill Richardson is precluded from running again.

Local 480 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees announced its weekend endorsement of Denish at the state Capitol.

Jon Hendry, business agent for IATSE Local 480, started off his speech at a rally in the rotunda Wednesday with a reference to Kilmer.

"He's a great guy, and if you ever want a really good friend in this business, then Val Kilmer's going to be your friend," he said.

But, he added, "we already have a champion here. ... She's been on your side now for six years."

Denish, a Democrat, told a crowd of film workers that if she were elected, she would continue to work to make New Mexico a top destination for movie and TV production.

Richardson has heavily promoted the film industry, and more than 115 major projects have been produced in the state over the past seven years.

New Mexico offers a hefty film incentive package that includes a 25 percent rebate for all direct production expenditures, including local labor, that are subject to taxation by the state.

"I wouldn't expect you to give this endorsement to anybody who wasn't working hand in hand with you to invest in the industry," Denish said.

Kilmer, a registered Democrat, has lived in New Mexico for more than two decades.

His screen credits include "Batman Forever," "Top Gun," "The Doors" and "Tombstone."