Thursday, August 30, 2012

National Spotlight on Susana Is Blocked: Big Three TV Nets Take A Pass On Her Convention Speech; Confined To Cable; We've Got The Reviews Pro And Con, Plus: Rogers And Custer (Cont.) 

Martinez in Tampa
Primetime was downtime for the three major American broadcast networks when it came to Governor Susana Martinez. Not one of them--ABC, CBS or NBC--carried her eight minute speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, leaving our Guv--the nation's first female Hispanic Governor--to tout her uniqueness on the cable networks. That drained the impact and drama of the speech that was presupposed on the eve of the speech by her supporters, her staff and the state's media (Transcript and video here). It also meant her moment in the sun was blacked out on the three major New Mexico network affiliates. They did give it extensive coverage on their late news broadcasts.

So what happened? A Senior Alligator said it was a marketing failure, that the content of Martinez's talk needed to be stronger:

Sarah Palin already worked the Sarah Palin angle. Nice effort on the part of (Martinez political adviser) Jay McCleskey to try a Latina version--even though there's no Hispanic and no woman on the ticket. It's all just a variation on what's becoming an increasingly worn out GOP theme: don't judge people based on how they look--but here's a few folks we'd like you to judge based on how they look. This crew really is that cynical... 

As for the speech itself and Susana's delivery,  reviews were generally favorable. The Guv started out with some butterflies in her stomach, but quickly found her footing. The WaPo's Chris Cilliza came with the kinder, gentler review, listing her among the evening's "winners" in Tampa:

Before tonight most people--including most Republicans--didn’t know much (if anything) about the New Mexico governor.  Martinez changed that--in a good way--with a down-to-earth delivery and ease in the moment that many politicians with much more experience on the national stage would rightly be jealous of.  In listening to Martinez, she struck us as the female equivalent of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie--very comfortable in her own skin and easily relatable to the average person.  The strength of Martinez’s speech was, for us, the most surprising thing about the night...

So was it it a single, a double, a home run? A double would seem about right. Veteran ABQ Journal reporter Michael Coleman seemed to have it in the same area of the ballpark, saying the speech "earned an appreciative if not rousing reception" inside the Tampa convention hall.

Dem analyst Harry Pavlides came with this analysis:

I thought it helped her cause with the Republicans on a national level. Down the line, if Romney were to win, they could look at her for a cabinet position. I was impressed with the speech, but then again I was impressed with Sarah Palin. I think if the national networks had covered her, it could have been a much bigger night for her.

An Alligator noted another reason Susana may have been shafted from the Big Three's primetime coverage:

Martinez really got the shaft being placed between Condolezza Rice and VP candidate Ryan. The TV commentators are only talking about them after Rice's powerful speech and Ryan's nomination speech.  The commentator aren't mentioning Martinez and her speech is being overlooked.  That will affect her ability to be memorable nationally, especially in '16.

Martinez's delivery of her speech--just before VP candidate Paul Ryan addressed the convention--was more than adequate and the Governor easily delivered lines she has given hundred of times before. But to a national audience drenched in "up by your boot straps political stories" it probably seemed interesting, but not compelling.

"It was more inspirational. It was not policy-oriented and thus there really was no news hook for the media," offered another of our Senior Alligators.

Martinez did boast of one policy accomplishment in her speech--or what she says is a policy coup. She told the convention:

I inherited the largest structural deficit in state history. And our legislature is controlled by Democrats. We don't always agree. But we came together--in a bi-partisan manner--and turned that deficit into a surplus, all without raising taxes.

We're going to be generous and not call Martinez's assertion a big lie. But the fact is that Governor Richardson raised taxes and slapped on a hiring freeze when confronted with dwindling revenues because of the recession. Martinez and the Legislature agreed to about $185 million in budget cuts in her first legislative session to bring the budget into balance. Hardly the biggest deficit ever, but Jay and Susana are going to keep repeating it it because her legislative cupboard is so bare.

Governor Martinez did a serviceable job in her speech. She did not hurt herself and it was a point of pride to see the New Mexico Governor getting the national spotlight, albeit not as bright as it could have been.


Leave it to New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan to get the pics you are dying to see. This one definitely makes the list. It's Governor Martinez with none other than "Shadow Governor" Jay McCleskey as they take in the Republican National Convention at Tampa.

The picture is courtesy of our Alligators on the scene keeping the look out for you.

Jay doesn't think he has earned the nickname "Shadow Governor" but to seasoned political observers--the Senior Alligators--he surely has. He wields more power than any previous gubernatorial adviser in memory. He has become a public figure for the divisive campaign he ran against Republican Senate candidate Pat Woods in Clovis in the June primary. Attack ads were run against him, not the Governor, and we should expect more hits from Jay and on him as we get into the meat of the New Mexican campaign season.

Our first exposure to him was back in 2003 in the ABQ city council election when he ran one of his bare knuckled campaigns which are today his trademark. He was all of 27. The next 10 years he more or less spent in the political wilderness bu then struck gold consulting Richard Berry in the 2009 ABQ Mayor's race and Martinez in 2010.

Susana seems to like it that way, as after 20 months in office she has not made any overt moves to limit McCleskey's power which became even more public when a series of private emails among Martinez administration officials was leaked.

McCleskey has long ties to the Republican National Committee. Is he going to try to ride the Martinez horse to the national stage? Well, first there is the small matter of her re-election campaign in 2014. And he will have to withstand increasingly louder calls for the Governor to be more inclusive in her inner circle to balance out McCleskey's power.


There has been some rain the Guv's Tampa parade this week. It's those latest offensive email comments from GOP National Committeeman and lawyer/lobbyist Pat Rogers. The Guv has been fending off calls for his resignation from the national committee. But Rogers' foes are taking their battle to the doorstep of the Modrall law firm where Rogers hangs his shingle:

ProgressNow New Mexico will join leaders from Native American, Hispanic and LGBT communities Thursday morning (August 30) at 9:00 am outside of the Modrall law offices located at 500 Fourth Street NW, Albuquerque for a brief press conference before community leaders deliver letters and attempt to meet with firm representatives. The public and media are invited to attend this public event. 

In case you missed it, here is the incendiary Rogers email in question. It is Rogers "joking" about the Governor's mandatory meeting with state Tribal leaders held in June:
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice Arnold Jones]...The state is going to hell. Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner. I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov....

The All Indian Pueblo Council has called for Rogers' resignation from the Republican National Committee. The Indian Law Practice Group at Modrall put out this letter of apology for Rogers' comments:

Rogers has recognized  that the comment was a poor attempt at humor and has apologized for his remark...We too want to apologize for Pat's comment..It does not reflect our values or the values of Pat or our firm...

Governor Martinez had to deal with questioning about Rogers in Tampa. Like Modrall, she is trying to make Roger's apology--not his resignation--the final chapter:

It was a poor attempt at humor, but he apologized and we need to move on. I’m sure it was offensive and he apologized.  He has done fabulous work for the Republican Party for decades."

Martinez pointed out that ABQ state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton of Albuquerque, a Democratic National Committee person-at large at the party’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week, also made ethnically insensitive comments late last year. Stapleton, in a public exchange at the Capitol, referred to Martinez as “the Mexican” on the Capitol’s fourth floor in Santa Fe.

“She (Stapleton) apologized and we moved on,” Martinez said. “I didn’t ask for her resignation. People sometimes will say things that may be hurtful and aren’t the smartest thing to do, but she apologized and I moved on.”

Nice try by the Guv at fading the heat by citing Stapleton, but this is not a one time offense by Rogers. A series of emails released by the union-funded Independent Source PAC has revealed a series of comments that could be viewed as derogatory toward Hispanics and gays.

It's not surprising that Martinez and Modrall are circling the wagons. The Guv swears by the polls and as long as they are good, she doesn't move--even as some around her run amok.

Modrall lives by the billing hour. If the hyper-controversial Rogers impacts the bottom line, he will be gone. Otherwise, it appears Modrall is willing to risk having its legacy law firm rebranded with the Rogers stamp.

By the way, while Modrall has Republican roots notable Dems also practice there, including former US attorney John Kelly and Michelle Hernandez who recently sought the Democratic nomination from the Dem State Central Committee for an opening on the NM Supreme Court.


Joe Monahan
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