Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Name Is The Same, But Not The Game; Sergio Garcia Tees Up For NM GOP, Plus: Bureaucrat Gets Real On Jobs Debate, And: Shipley Sails Away From Guv 

Sergio Garcia
No, it's not that Sergio Garcia. But New Mexico golfers did do a double-take when news hit the wires Monday that Sergio Garcia had been appointed as deputy executive director of the NM GOP as well as the party's political director. They soon learned that the Sergio Garcia moving into GOP headquarters was definitely of the political stripe, not of the golf world, and that any hopes for a "La Politica Open" starring Sergio were dashed. But GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. is saying the GOP's hopes for 2010 and beyond aren't to be dashed. He believes Garcia can help accomplish a political feat that has been as elusive for the GOP as scoring a hole-in-one---attracting legions of Hispanic voters here to the Republican banner.

Garcia, 34, is a native of Los Angeles whose most recent political experience was in Nicaragua where he organized mayoral campaigns aimed at weakening the grip of Marxist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Garcia worked for the
International Republican Institute which describes itself as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan group that supports democracy." Here's more:

Established in April 1983, the International Republican Institute (IRI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law.

Nicaragua did not go well for the IRI. Ortega's candidates mostly won but the US says the election may have been riddled with fraud. Just last week $60 million in American aid to the nation was cut off. The IRI is chaired by GOP Senator John McCain. There is also an International Democratic Institute.

Garcia cut his political teeth in the the 2000 Bush campaign in southern California where he was the Hispanic grassroots director. In 2004, he worked for the Republican National Committee's 72 hour legal task force. Also on Garcia's resume from the GOP:

At the U.S. Department of State, Garcia served as deputy political counselor at the Bureau for Western Hemisphere Affairs and as senior policy advisor for Latin America and Multilateral Affairs at the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.


We go into some detail because insiders expect Garcia to soon be bumped up to party executive director, a position that has been filled by Ryan Cangliosi. But Cangliosi is not a political professional and is expected next year to seek the ABQ state legislative seat held by Democrat Bill O'Neill.

Several R's we spoke with said they did not know Garcia, but were hopeful his appointment could start turning the party in a direction that would appeal to a larger portion of the electorate. He remains untested on the larger battlefield, but does not come with any apparent connections to any of the factions that have beset the party in recent years. If he starts from a position of neutrality, he could be a bridge builder.

Garcia, who earned his bachelor of law from the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico, now lives in Corrales with his wife and two children. Like his famous namesake, he is also a golfer. But it will be the sand traps and water hazards facing a shrunken GOP that will be testing his skills in the months ahead. His gallery won't be as large as golfer Sergio's, but it will be just as watchful.


We know state coffers are running low, but we wonder if there's enough to give a small pay raise to David Lucero or at least a free lunch at the Bull Ring. Lucero, an anonymous bureaucrat with the Legislative Finance Committee, broke through layers of denial and may have started a long overdue debate over the state's varied and expensive economic development programs.

New Mexico, argued LFC analyst Lucero, attempts to "buy jobs." He pointed out that the state has committed to paying nearly $600 million in incentives between 2002 an 2010, but questioned what we are getting for it. A dozen agencies, Lucero testified before a legislative committee, are throwing money around for economic development, but with little accountability. He said the state needs a dose of that as well as some serious coordination.

The collapse of the heavily state subsidized Eclipse Aviation, to our way of thinking, was an inflection point in area economic development history. Yet the policy makers, politicians and the mainstream press that promoted it have so far refused to conduct a post-mortem. Until now?

Even those with only a casual interest can see that the state needs a complete restructuring of its economic development efforts, as well as the practices guiding the investment of billions of dollars of the state's permanent savings.

The LFC report and testimony is a hopeful sign that New Mexico's out of tilt state government may be coming back into balance. Legislators who have not been willing to get in front of this parade now have some cover. For that alone, they should pick up Lucero's lunch tab.


One of the names most closely associated with Big Bill since he took office in 2003 has left the Governor's office. Pahl Shipley, famous among the insiders for spelling his first name the wrong way, has been at Richardson's side as a top press aide. Now he has begun work as PR chief in the NM Film Office. Shipley, former news director for ABQ'S KOAT-TV, leaves at a troubled time, with possible indictments of top Big Bill aides by a federal grand jury up in the air. But six years is a long time in the pressure-cooker. Switching to the Film Office and becoming a state classifed employee would protect Shipley from the whims of the new administration that takes office in 2011. Pahl may be the first of many high profile "exempt" employees to begin seeking safe harbor as the post-Richardson days approach.

Former ABQ Tribune reporter Gilbert Gallegos remains as Bill's Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Friends say the position has taken its toll on the earnest Gallegos, but he has become a key political adviser to the chief executive and appears ready to sail with him into what could be the roughest political waters yet. Meantime, it's happy sailing for Shipley and for Bill's original press secretary, Billy Sparks, who is happily ensconced in a well-paying PR job at the University of New Mexico. And so it goes.....

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