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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bruce Donisthorpe: A Pillar Of La Politica Is Claimed By Death At 56; Veteran Consultant, Pollster Won Respect And Friends On Both Sides Of Aisle 

Bruce Donisthorpe
Bruce Donisthorpe was a pillar of La Politica. A big man with a big heart, he had a deep and abiding love for his home state of New Mexico. Although a lifelong and loyal Republican, he was known and respected for working across the aisle if it meant advancing the state's interests.

The 56 year old Donisthorpe, a native of Bloomfield in the Four Corners, served as communications director for Republican Governor Garrey Carruthers (1987-91) and then became a top aide to southern NM GOP Congressman Joe Skeen (1981-'03).

In 2001, after leaving Capitol Hill, he founded his consulting business, BWD Global, and embarked on an accomplished career as a political and business consultant and pollster.

Readers of this blog since its beginning in 2003 have been familiar with the high impact polling he conducted for us as well as his many years of insightful analysis of the state's political campaigns.

He had a wide circle of friends and his death from apparent heart failure Sunday evening at his ABQ home prompted an outpouring of grief on social media. Democratic political consultant Brian Morris aptly summed up Donisthorpe's political philosophy:

He was personally a Republican, but he always believed in helping the best person regardless of party labels.

Republican political consultant Reb Wayne of Austin, who was working with Donisthorpe on NM legislative races at the time of his death, added:

I'm so humbled to see that both Democrats and Republicans are equal in their genuine praise of Bruce. It speaks volumes. I know Bruce is somewhere smiling right now knowing this fact.

Donisthorpe, a UNM graduate with a Masters in speech communications, was a powerful presence on Capitol Hill during his tenure with Congressman Skeen, watch-guarding the state's military bases as Skeen accumulated power and seniority. ABQ businessman Sherman McCorkle, a longtime advocate for the state's labs and bases, reflected on Bruce's contribution:

When he worked for Joe Skeen, Bruce was the go to guy for New Mexico for all of the military bases. When it came to understanding those bases he had a Ph.D. His working knowledge was second to none.

It was Bruce's encyclopedic knowledge combined with a special personality that won so many over, said McCorkle:

He had the most pleasant, approachable and friendliest personality of any congressional staffer I ever met. Bruce remained involved in what is good for New Mexico long after he left the Hill. He served on the board of NM Literacy and was a founding member of the board of directors of the Sandia Science and Technology Park Development Corporation. I am saddened and stunned by his passing. 

Bruce w/ Gov. Carruthers
Congressman Steve Pearce, who now holds the southern US House seat once occupied by Skeen, was both a client and friend of Donisthorpe's:

 I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of my good friend, Bruce Donisthorpe. Bruce was a brilliant New Mexico political mind, a great pollster, and his passing is a huge loss for our state. He will be greatly missed.  

Veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff and Donisthorpe shared a mutual professional respect as well as friendship. Sanderoff said: 

 Bruce knew more about state politics, government and elections than anyone I’ve ever encountered and to his credit he didn’t look at the dark side or try to tear people down. 

Bruce was born with politics in his blood. He was the son of former GOP State Senator Christine Donisthorpe (1979-'96) and the late attorney, farmer and steadfast politics watcher Oscar Donisthorpe. His brother Paul served as a New Mexico delegate to this year's Republican National Convention. 

The NM GOP released this statement: 

We are deeply saddened to learn of Bruce's passing," said Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Debbie Maestas. "He has worked extensively with RPNM, as well as several candidates statewide for many years, and he and his valuable insight on the political environment in New Mexico will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones in this difficult time." 

And former Gov. Carruthers said: 

Bruce involved himself in many projects that have been of benefit to the people of our state, but I particularly remember his involvement in literacy efforts. He was a lifelong student of the body politic in which he has been a central figure for many years. I am proud to have known him and very sorry to hear of his untimely passing. 

For Bruce and many in his generation politics was serious but also meant to be a pleasure. Not long ago, when the NM House was seeing droves of members choosing not to run for re-election, we asked him for his thoughts on the departures. "Well, it just isn't fun anymore," he said of the nasty turn the modern political era had taken. 

Bruce Donisthorpe had plenty of fun in a life he lived fully and well. He certainly earned his chapter in the never ending book of La Politica. We were happy and proud to ride the rails with him. Along with his many friends and family, we will miss him deeply even as we remember him fondly.

Hasta luego, dear friend. 

(The New Mexican's obituary is here.) 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016

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