Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oilman Yates Elected New Chair of NM Republican Party; C de Baca Loses Treasurer Post In Comeback Bid; Ex-US Rep Redmond Beats Him 

New Mexico Republicans Saturday turned to a wealthy oilman to help them rebuild the state's minority party after one of its most far-reaching defeats ever in 2008. Harvey Yates, Jr., whose family started Yates Petroulem in SE NM, was elected chairman for a two year term. Yates is president of Jalapeno Corp., an oil and natural gas exploration and real estate company. He succeeds Allen Weh who held the post since 2004. Yates, who lives in ABQ, garnered over 50% of the vote in a three way contest. His chief rival was Farmington Dr. Allen McCulloch. Mike Meyer of ABQ also ran.

Yates does not have a political background. He is seen hiring a strong executive director--perhaps from outside the state--to help him run the day-to-day activities of the party. The new chairman formed a political action committee and heavily supported several legislative candidates in the past election, but with little success. In a letter seeking support from the 289 Central Committee delegates deciding the race, Yates said: "We are faced with an increased liberal majority in our state Legislature whose orientation is toward increasing the power of government and diminishing the rights of individuals." But it is Yates' ability to raise money that may be his chief asset. He drew a wide range of support, including former Senator Domenici and ex-US Reps Pearce, Wilson and Lujan.

Republicans brought back an old face to become the party's new treasurer. That contest drew attention because former Bernalillo County GOP Chairman Fernando C de Baca sought the post. This, after C de Baca last year had to resign his chairmanship after a firestorm erupted when he said many Hispanics would not vote for Obama for president because he was black. Bill Redmond of Los Alamos, who won a fluke election to the northern congressional seat back in the 1990's and served one term in the US House, was drafted to oppose C de Baca and was elected. Results of the vote were not made public.

Republicans meeting at the Hotel ABQ near Old Town Saturday also chose Nina Martinez as party vice chair and Rod Montoya as second vice chair. Robert Perea was selected as party secretary.

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