Monday, April 18, 2011

Bregman Vs. Gonzales: Battle For State Chair Escalates As April 30 Vote Nears; Charges Fly, Plus: Latest On Senate Race; Heinrich & Hispanics 

Bregman vs. Gonzales
The fight for the chairmanship of the New Mexican Democratic Party is going to finish with a bang, not a whimper. With less than two weeks to go before some 400 state Dems sit down to decide whether to retain Santa Fe's Javier Gonzales as chair, this insider campaign is getting as wild as those we see for top elective offices. That's not too shocking as the leading prospect to take the gavel away from Javier is none other than Sam Bregman, a vocal trial attorney and the owner of the one of the state's most bombastic political personalities. Let's go to the action.....

And we start with this broadside from Ana Canales, the freshly re-elected chairman of the Bernalillo County Democratic Party. She says she is being dragged into the Bregman-Javier showdown:

It has come to my attention that a rumor is going around about my becoming the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico if Sam Bregman is elected as the new State Party Chair. This is an absolute lie and is outrageous....The individuals doing this are desperately clinging to their jobs and there are those that are still attacking me even after trying to remove me as County Chair....They are using my name to discredit Mr. Sam Bregman in order to take votes away from him. When a County Chair is asked to send a negative letter against a candidate by a member of the DPNM staff, is this an ethical thing to do?

Canales unloading got the juices of former Dem Secretary of State Mary Herrera flowing. She was praising Ana's missive and busy emailing her remembrance of her '10 re-election defeat:

The moment disgruntled (secretary of state office) employees went to the media with all their lies, where were the leaders in the Democratic Party when I needed them? My campaign manager went to them to help me get the message out. We were promised, but....I heard (2010 Dem Guv nominee) Diane Denish didn't want Mary Herrera around her campaign and did not allow Javier Gonzales and the staff at the Democratic Party to write anything to help defend me during the time the media continually attacked me....I have been involved with the Democratic Party for 36 years. Where was the Party when I needed them? I could not believe people that knew me for so many years turned their backs.

And it's not only Javier taking the hits, Scott Forrester, executive director of the Dem Party under Javier, has been "honored" with a web site dedicated to his alleged shortcomings. No word on who put it up but you can pretty much guess. An excerpt:

Let’s face it folks, what have Javier and Scott really done to build and maintain the party infrastructure? Do we have party staff in all our congressional districts? Is the party investing in electing and training county chairs, ward chairs, and precinct chairs that are going to build our party and win in 2012? No, instead we all get fundraising emails to help keep the lights on in Albuquerque....


Letitia Montoya
The third candidate in the chair race--Santa Fe's Letitia Montoya--may be a long shot but she isn't being shy about piling on Javier. Here's an excerpt of a letter she just fired off to Javier:

I am hereby requesting a copy of the financial audit of the Democratic Party of New Mexico which was just completed and released. I also request that the audit be posted on the Party web-site. As a state party chair candidate, I am researching the current operations of the party and the financial condition of the organization. Just as public officials must be accountable to the public with financial records open for public scrutiny, the financial audit of the Party should be made public. Party members and officers should have access to the audit report to assure that all financial transactions and records are managed in accordance with party rules and in compliance with accounting standards and state law....

And for the anti-Sam crowd, there's pleasurable viewing at www.stopsam.com.


After fielding these various salvos from his foes, Chairman Gonzales came with a formal response:

It is truly a shame to see good Democrats getting sucked into the rumor mill - creating or spreading half-truths and spin that makes one campaign or another look bad. When we engage in below-the-belt campaigning, we all suffer. I know first hand that emotions run high on campaigns. Early in this race, when one of my supporters flirted with the idea of negative campaigning, I put a stop to it before any damage was done, and took immediate steps to make sure that was a road we would never go down.

With two weeks to go before we elect a Chairman to lead us into 2012, there is still time to leave the bickering and the infighting behind. These campaigns should be rooted in civil discourse and an honest assessment of the differences in candidates. I am committed to continuing to run exactly that kind of campaign. I'm also calling on my opponents and their supporters to make the same commitment, and to pledge to the State Central Committee that no matter who wins, he or she will have our full support.

Javier may be looking forward to making the peace, but he may be the only one. The final two weeks of this thing are going to be played out on the battle field, not the peace table.


Then there's that robocall poll of Dem state central committee members who will decide the race . It was taken last week by Javier's team and shows him beating Sam 54% to 37% with Letitia getting 8 percent. That drew this chastising review from one of those who was actually polled:

I was one of the 94 people that took the Robo-poll. When the voting universe is made up of only 400 people and all of those are by definition politically active, there is no way the people participating would expect that their answers would be anonymous. I intentionally voted for Javier despite my true intentions to keep his team from harassing me. Gonzales, Forrester, and their cronies have been using strong-arm tactics within the Party to garner support rather than delivering a message that resonates. My vote alone accounts for a two point swing in the results. My questions are 1) why would anyone waste that kind of money to do a Robo-poll on a such a small voting universe and 2) why did only 94 people participate? Tactics like this allowed the Democrats to lose one congressional district, eight state house seats, and the governor’s office last election....


The chair contest has gotten so intense it has even soiled retiring Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman who formally endorsed Javier for another two year term, but drew reader fire here when he did so. One of those displeased dismissed Jeff's endorsement with this derisive comment:

An endorsement from lame duck Bingaman carries all the weight of passing gas in a windstorm!

That got reader Stephanie DuBois over to her keyboard and pounding out this rebuttal:

Joe, I disagree with the comment...Senator Bingaman has served our state honorably for 30 years and before that as our Attorney General. He has chosen not to seek re-election. His endorsement, in my opinion, carries a tremendous amount of weight. His integrity is beyond approach. Any candidate would welcome his endorsement. The Senator took the time to make this endorsement and I don't believe he did it without thought.....

Well, Jeff will be leaving all of this "fun" behind soon enough.


2012 will be another dramatic year in state politics and that's one reason why we are hearing recriminations in that chairman's race over the poor performance of the Dems in 2010. Many in the party are scared that Obama could lose the state, the Bingaman Senate seat could go to the R's and so could the ABQ US House seat that is being given up by Dem Martin Heinrich who is seeking the Senate slot.

For those hoping for Heinrich as the Senate nominee, he delivered some good news in his latest federal finance report. He says he raised $350,000 in the first quarter of the year and has $350,000 in cash on hand. He is showing that he is going to be able to raise the funds to wage a formidable campaign for the Dem Senate nomination. But it appears Heinrich will have a foe--or two--and that is keeping the national Dems from coming right out and endorsing his candidacy.

The head of the Dems US Senate committee interfered in the contested Nevada US Senate Dem primary by endorsing a candidate, but when given the chance did not offer an early endorsement of Heinrich.

There are good reasons for that.

This is tricky terrain for the Dems. Many Hispanic New Mexicans are wondering if a Hispanic candidate will emerge to challenge Heinrich. Foremost on the list, though not thought to be too serious about a run, is northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. It would be a slap in his face for the national Dems to go for Heinrich so early. Best to let Ben Ray make his decision public and then maybe they do what they did in Nevada and give a formal nod to Heinrich.

But they may also wait to see how State Auditor Hector Balderas performs. He now confirms he will decide by the end of the month whether he will take Heinrich on. A Balderas candidacy could also keep the national Dems on the bench for a while. No need to ruffle feathers as President Obama prepares to lean heavily on the Hispanic community for his re-election bid.

Some of our analysts at the top of the political pyramid now think if Heinrich is the Dem nominee he would be better off facing Heather Wilson in the general election, rather than Lt. Governor John Sanchez who is soon expected to join Heather in the race for the 2012 GOP US Senate nomination. To them, Sanchez seems more dangerous. He is a native Hispanic with little political baggage and has demonstrated statewide appeal. That old saying, "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't" is resonating with these Dem analysts as they begin to game the playing field for next year's Senate face-off.

Meanwhile, Heather knows what she has to do and she is doing it. She raised good starting money out of the gate (over $300,000 in her first month) and is now piling up endorsements from Republicans in rural New Mexico. It is there that she is the weakest and where Sanchez will charge. From her campaign:

Wilson announced that Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales, Curry County Commissioner Caleb Chandler, Quay County Commission Chairman Bill Curry and Clovis Mayor Pro Tem and City Commissioner Randal Crowder have publicly endorsed her candidacy for the Senate. “Senator Ingle and I worked together on child welfare problems when I worked in State government. And Randy Crowder has been a champion of Cannon Air Force Base and bringing jobs to Clovis,” Wilson said. “Caleb Chandler and Bill Curry are well respected leaders in their communities; I am proud have them as supporters.

She is going to need every one of them. In 2008, when she sought the GOP Senate nomination against Rep. Steve Pearce, Heather lost heavily in rural New Mexico, especially the south.

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