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Monday, May 23, 2016

Martinez And McCleskey Delivered A Mighty Blow By Yates In GOP Battle For Power; Rogers Defeat Extends Guv's Run Of Bad News, Plus: Pearce Emerges Stronger After Convention And: Bernie's Gift 

Martinez and Yates (Bralley)
The governorship of Susana Martinez was delivered a mighty blow Saturday when Harvey Yates--her friend turned foe--decisively ousted Martinez ally Pat Rogers 59% to 41% in a bitter contest for GOP national Committeeman.

It was a smashing victory for oilman Yates. He has repeatedly and publicly traded barbs with Martinez's powerful political consultant Jay McCleskey who was as much a victim of this defeat--if not more--than the governor herself.

Yates, 76, a former NM GOP chairman, has also berated the Governor and House Republicans, who took control of the chamber in 2014, for essentially doing nothing to improve the economy.

House R's were split between Yates and Rogers. If the R's retain the House in November the Yates win could signal a more aggressive posture from them on economic development, rather than the "all crime all the time" agenda that McCleskey is pushing as an alternative to confronting the economic stagnation.

In the end, however, this was a vote against the power and controversial tactics of McCleskey, the most powerful presence in the Martinez administration who was the subject of a recent federal investigation over campaign financing and who directs her political machine. One of our Senior Alligators summed it up:

Even state Republicans are sick of Jay McCleskey and company, despite an essentially winning record. It is the thuggish nature of the Martinez operation that repels people and led to a sweeping victory for Yates.

That "thuggish nature" has often been turned on Martinez's fellow Republicans and with her consent. Saturday it came back to bite her and will leave deep teeth marks.

The Governor showed up at the state convention but left before the vote rebuking Rogers was announced. It was the latest in a long line of bad news for her over the last six months..

Pat Rogers
It began in December with the infamous holiday pizza party where her image was deeply soiled. Then the legislative session came and went with little results and overshadowed by a crash in oil and gas prices. Then she endorsed Marco Rubio for the GOP presidential nomination, only to see him lose right after. Then came her plunge in the polls taking her below 50% approval for the first time. Then there was the ascent of Trump whose immigration views are so harsh Martinez is boxed in when it comes to dealing with the soon-to-be GOP nominee. And now Pat Rogers who McCleskey and the Governor furiously attempted to rescue but were soundly rebuffed.

And why was the prestige and power of the sitting governor allowed to be put on the line in the Yates-Rogers battle? Or in the ill-advised Rubio endorsement?  She  could have easily dismissed the committeeman contest as a personal feud between Yates and McCleskey and watch Rogers get thrown overboard. That's what governors do to protect themselves and the effectiveness of their governing ability.

As we've repeatedly observed this administration has been fine on offense but a disaster on defense. She seems a prisoner of her own design, willingly turning over the executive branch to her consultant and his allies who in turn have used her power and position to pummel--often personally--anyone who dared disagree with them.

Throughout all this Governor Martinez has smiled and read books to third graders for endless photo ops. Now it is she who is getting taught some lessons.

MORE ON THIS


Reader analysis now from Kathryn Carroll:

The defeat of Pat Rogers was the beginning of the demise of what was once the well-oiled Martinez/McCleskey political machine. While the reports in the ABQ Journal and elsewhere seemed to indicate that no hard feelings were on display in an attempt to sell party unity, you can be sure the knives will come out.

The play by Mr. Yates to end Mr. Roger's eight year reign as Governor Martinez's chosen National Committeeman, may well be just the start of his return to take over the State Republican Party, which will include naming the next State Chairman, and setting up his own candidate to run for governor in 2018. Lt. Governor Sanchez should keep a close eye on Mr. Yates, as well as anyone else who has eyes on the Roundhouse in 2018.

Well said, Kathryn. This could just be the start of Yates' power plays.

CLIFFORD EXIT

We interrupt our convention coverage to bring you the news of the apparent departure of Dr. Tom Clifford as head of the important Dept. of Finance and Administration under Gov. Martinez. Direct from Alligator Alley:

Joe, Clifford resigned on Friday May 20th. He gave only one week's notice. There were several issues:

-Main problem was that the Fourth Floor interfered with him excessively.
-His deputy, Duffy Rodriguez, constantly spoke to the Fourth Floor (the Guv's office) behind his back.
-There was a quarrel between Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla and Clifford and the Fourth Floor took Padilla's side.

Clifford was and is a well-respected economic analyst, but he went into the tank for the Martinez/McCleskey axis and it cost him his credibility. The second term departures are underway.

PEARCE POWER

Who received the most votes at the Saturday NM GOP convention to become a delegate to the Republican National Convention this summer? Gov. Martinez? Nope. It was southern conservative NM GOP congressman Steve Pearce whose forces emerged as the dominant wing of the party by openly backing Yates over Rogers and rebuking Martinez. Here's how that vote came down:

At Large Delegates/473 voting:

1. Rep. Steve Pearce, 341 votes. 2. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, 326. 3.  State House Speaker Don Tripp, 298 4. Allen Weh, 205 6. Gov. Martinez, 203 6. Lisa Shin, 193 7. Andrea Moore, 191 8. Fernando C'de Baca, 159 9. Susan Throckmorton, 150 10. Phil Archuleta, 145 11. Demesia Padilla, 137 12. Jonathan Gardner, 135.

The NM R's will send 24 delegates to their July Cleveland convention. The delegates listed are the ones voted on by the entire state convention.

And on the outside chance Trump should beat Clinton in NM in November, here are the five Republicans named to the Electoral College and who would cast their votes for Trump: Ed Cassidy, Robert Martinez, Jo Mitchell, Charles Moran and Marge Teague

10 G'S FOR TRUMP

It looks as though Donald Trump is dead serious about not spending his fortune to fund his '16 presidential bid. Take a look at this from the state GOP:

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump is coming to Albuquerque for a rally this Tuesday, May 24th! If you'd like to attend, you can find tickets available on Trump's website. If you're also interested in attending a private reception with Donald Trump before the rally, the price per person is $10,000. Please call RPNM at 505-298-3662 for more information.

The state GOP has officially endorsed Trump but Governor Martinez continues to have a hard time making up her mind.

BERNIE'S GIFT

(ABQ Journal/Rosales)
We waited outside the downtown ABQ Convention Center with Bernie Sanders supporters at 7 p.m. Tuesday. They were nearly as  fearful as they were enthusiastic as officials slowed the entrance line to a crawl. But just about everyone was finally admitted to the hall in time to hear the Vermont Democrat begin his hour long speech by saying of the 7,000 on hand: "It looks like ABQ is ready for a revolution!"

Sanders is the only one of the three remaining active presidential candidates who has won majority favorability in the nation. In just about every poll he beats Trump by a comfortable margin, something he did not let the crowd forget as he implored them to help him pull an upset over Hillary Clinton in New Mexico's June 7th presidential primary.

The crowd was diverse, with plenty of Hispanics and Native Americans on hand which are groups that the Clintons have long appealed to and which Sanders has had trouble attracting. But what struck us most was the tender age of many in attendance. Many of them will be voting for president for the first time, an event that one remembers for a lifetime.

Certainly, the Sanders candidacy will be remembered throughout their lifetimes. It marks the first time a Democratic socialist has performed so well for a major party nomination. Only history will tell us whether it marked a major departure from traditional economic and political nostrums. But it has the feel of it and the look. Youthful energy made the handheld signs bobb and weave throughout the rally.

Their slogan struck us as particularly poignant as we took measure of the scene: "A Future We Can Believe In." There they stood, unabashedly and joyously expressing their hope for their futures and embracing our tottering political system to help make their dreams come true. Win or lose, support him or not, that is the great gift Bernie Sanders has given to America.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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