Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Split At The Top: House Majority Leader Gentry Parts Ways With Gov. Martinez And Her Top Adviser Jay McCleskey; Drops Jay And Hires Own Campaign Consultant; The Anti-Jay?  

Rep. Gentry
Continued exclusive coverage now on the split in the NM Republican Party that could reshape the coming campaigns for the legislature as well as legislative policy.

It appears the rumored split between House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, Governor Martinez and her influential political consultant Jay McCleskey is grounded in reality. In fact, Gentry appears to have hired an "anti-Jay" to lead his efforts to keep the state House under GOP control. Gentry's Republican Leadership PAC reports spending over $27,000 in the recent primary election with Triumph Campaigns, a Mississippi based political consulting firm run by Justin Brassell who has considerable campaign experience. We get details from a senior Republican:

Recent finance reports show that Nate's Republican Leadership PAC spent big money with the firm Triumph Campaigns out of Jackson MS. The principal, Justin Brassell, has a serious Republican pedigree, having managed Mitch McConnell's 2008 US Senate campaign and Tom Cotton's successful 2014 US Senate run. This is a significant change from previous cycles when the bulk of Nate's campaign cash went to McCleskey Media Strategies and Red Tag Strategies headed up by Adam Feldman, a McCleskey loyalist.

And not only that. Roswell oilman Mark Murphy and Congressman Pearce's campaign committee, both arch-enemies of McCleskey,  are now back in the Gentry fold, making donations to Gentry's committees.

Gentry, who represents an ABQ NE Heights district, is also collecting hundreds of thousands for his personal re-election fund and dispersing much of it to GOP state House candidates. It currently has over $287,000 cash on hand. Gentry's Republican Leadership PAC currently has about $34,000 in cash, but that is soon expected to bulge with much more.

Justin Brassell
The squeeze play on Jay comes after he has had the GOP playing field almost exclusively to himself since Martinez's 2010 first Guv campaign in 2010. He has raked in millions and is probably the most influential gubernatorial adviser in the modern era, but second gubernatorial terms are when the cracks start appearing. And this crack could cost.

There will still be state GOP House campaigns for McCleskey to consult. Not all will go with Gentry. And then there is Susana PAC and the Advance New Mexico super PAC, all under the control of McCleskey. But if Gentry has his own hotshot to call the shots he could lure away money that would have gone to the Guv and Jay. The fact that McCleskey was subjected to a  federal investigation over his campaign financing techniques doesn't help. (The investigation did not result in any indictments.)

More important is the future direction of the GOP. With Gentry parting ways with Martinez and McCleskey and the state GOP under control of the Harvey Yates-Steve Pearce faction doing the same, we could see the ideological framework in Santa Fe shift away from the Governor in still undetermined ways.

Here's a 2011 TV interview with Brassell who is currently working a US Senate campaign in Louisiana. Here's a bio of Brassell, a 1998 graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Sidebar: Brassell doesn't seem too crazy about Trump. The last tweet he put up on his Twitter account was on March 5 when he celebrated a poll showing Kasich ahead of Trump in Michigan.


Rep. Pacheco
Those state House Republicans Gentry and Brassell are coaching are starting to hear and feel the pain. They are getting off the "all crime all the time" rant and starting to talk about jobs and the lousy economy. The GOP's Paul Pacheco, a former cop seeking re-election, is facing pressure on the jobs issue from Dem Daymon Ely. In an op-ed Pacheco starts to play catch-up:

I have heard from countless chambers and business groups that a high rate of violent crime is a major deterrent to companies looking to expand. New Mexico’s ranking as second in the nation for violent crimes is a huge problem for so many reasons.

That looks like the right play for Pacheco, arguing that concentrating on reducing crime can actually help attract business, an argument that many of our readers have been making.

Ely has been hammering Pacheco on jobs in the Sandoval County area district where Rio Rancho's Intel is located and laying off hundreds. Speaking of which. . . Take a look at this news from the ABQ congresswoman that appears to be another move to pave the way for an '18 Dem Guv run:

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham called on Intel Corporation to contribute tax savings to a fund that would help local communities in New Mexico recover from the economic impact of recent lay-offs. “Intel stands to benefit the most from Governor Martinez’s corporate tax breaks that were supposed to create manufacturing jobs,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “Unfortunately, New Mexico is losing jobs, and Intel has reduced its workforce in Rio Rancho by hundreds of employees since the tax breaks went into effect..

Lujan Grisham adds that the Governor pushed for the corporate tax breaks in 2013, while promising they would lead to more jobs, particularly at Intel. Since then, Intel has dramatically reduced its workforce.

Oops. There's one thing Michelle forgot. It was the House Democrats who had the majority in 2013 and made possible the Martinez corporate tax cut.


Meanwhile, Gov, Martinez is celebrating the addition of  jobs--possibly over 200--by the technology sales outfit PCM. She says the company is coming to Rio Rancho and she says the jobs will pay between $45,000 and $65,000 a year.

PCM may come with about the same number of jobs as Intel in Rio Rancho is in the process of laying off--if not more---and no one is kidding themselves that the PCM marketing jobs have the economic impact of the Intel positions.

Martinez says in her release:

We've made a lot of progress since 2011, adding thousands of jobs and cutting taxes 37 times.

Sure, you've added thousands of jobs Governor, but you've lost more than you've gained. And as for cutting taxes 37 times, you must mean letting previously approved tax credits renew?

Like Rep. Pacheco the Governor seems to be getting a whiff of a new smell in the political wind. Jobs, jobs, jobs. But it's still one step forward and two steps back in New Mexico:

Hastings Entertainment Inc., a retailer that sells movies, music, books, comics and games, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. . . Hastings has a big presence in Albuquerque's metro. . . There are four locations in Albuquerque—one on the Westside, one on Lomas Boulevard near the fairgrounds, in a shopping center at Montgomery and Wyoming boulevards, and another at Lomas and Juan Tabo boulevards. It has one location each in Los Lunas and Rio Rancho. There are also eight other locations across the state.

Unless Hastings finds a buyer, that cancels out those 224 jobs Susana announced--and then some.

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