Thursday, January 04, 2007

Weh's Way Again? GOP Chair Announces Re-Election Bid As Party Director Kramer Is Shown The Exits, Plus: My Bottom Lines For A NM Thursday 

Chairman Weh
He came in dubbed a caretaker in April '04 to replace the ousted Ramsay Gorham and left that moniker behind when he ran unopposed for a two year term of his own in '05. Now, it appears a combination of being bitten by the political bug and determination by top tier Republicans to avoid an ugly fight have persuaded Allen Weh to seek yet another two year stint as chairman of the state's minority party. And in a move seen as an effort to pacify R's calling for a change in party direction and furious with the tenure of GOP executive director Marta Kramer, Weh has shown Kramer the door.

Publicly, Weh made Kramer's departure as gentle as possible--"Marta has done a tremendous job under difficult circumstances, and she’s earned a break...I fully expect you will see her return to a responsible political position in the 2008 election cycle."

But there is no sweeping under the rug the bad blood and ill will Kramer created in the party and among candidates like U.S. senate contender and ABQ GOP State Senator Joe Carraro who charged Kramer and Weh with playing favorites in last year's major party primary contests and then failing to deliver any gains in the general election. Carraro and others have been calling for Kramer's head ever since. By giving it to them, Weh may save his own and secure his chairmanship.

Potential Weh opponents are still hiding under their winter blankets. And none of the names now circulating have the star power to rally the party. The possible exception is Bernalillo county GOP chair Fernando C de Baca who has toyed with the idea of a run, but now seems less invigorated about the notion.

The chairman dismissed speculation that a lack of money may also have played a role in the departure of Kramer and two other staffers. "Is that a serious question? We are able to raise sufficient money..." scoffed Weh.

The national GOP was key in providing funds for the state in '06, but with '07 being an off-year that funding could be expected to decrease.


If Weh has the solid support of GOP Senator Domenici and Republican U.S. Reps Wilson and Pearce, and one assumes he does or he would not be indicating another run, he may avoid a serious challenge. Domenici and the two GOP congressional reps are up for re-election in '08 and keeping Weh at the helm provides them and the Republican National Committee with a known quantity and a hand in party matters. The GOP Central Committee will meet in May to select the chair and other party officers.

The executive director runs the day to day chores, with the chairman more a fundraiser and figurehead. Political director Chris Atencio is filling the ED job, temporarily, while a search is underway for a permanent ED. Some suggest going outside the state to fill the post as did former chairman John Lattauzio. By doing so, they argue, you get a professional not associated with any of the current factions or consultants and who might be able to lead the party to better times. If Weh goes with an ED who follows in the footsteps of Kramer & Co. he could very well find himself back to square one, facing a divided party going into a presidential election year.

There is also the issue of demoralization. Even the squabbles in the state GOP seem to lack zest after the November Democratic sweep. Many R's have simply fallen by the wayside and whoever is chairman will face a major challenge in igniting enthusiasm for the state ticket as well as the GOP presidential standard bearer.

Also heading for the exits and a teaching position Las Vegas, NV. is state GOP PR flack Jonah Cohen. He started off in the mainstream, but later formed a nasty tag team with Kramer whose tactics ultimately divided the R's. And, more important, they did not work. Still, just two months ago the state GOP and Weh were issuing a press release and telling a special meeting of the Central Committee that the election results were not that bad, despite the record landslide of Democrat Big Bill (69%) and the exaggerated triumph of Dem Senator Bingaman (over 70%) and the failure of the GOP to pick up any state House seats.

But the ability to change and adapt are the most fundamental skills of a politician, especially one seeking re-election. Just ask Allen Weh. Or better yet, the out-of-power Marta Kramer.

Keeping it on the R side of the aisle today we go to ex-ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle who has some ideas on why response to the Blizzard of '06 was not Johnny-on-the-spot.

"If I remember correctly there was $60 million unaccounted from the Federal Office of Homeland security back in 2003 and according to a current state representative (Janice Arnold-Jones (R-ABQ) that $60 million is still unaccounted for. The State’s Office of Homeland Security that is under the Department of Public Safety has been so badly managed by Gifts from the North (political jobs) it is still non operational."

So scores Ogle as the clean-up continues. We welcome comments with an opposing view.


I spelled Chaves county both correctly and incorrectly yesterday--with both an "s" and a "z" in referencing the death of longtime Senator Domenici aide, Poe Corn of Roswell. I guess all those Mayor Marty Chavez press conferences are getting the best of me. Meanwhile, Pete issued this statement citing one of Corn's accomplishments: "Corn will also be fondly remembered for his quick work to secure emergency National Guard feed drops to ranchers after the Christmas 1998 snowstorm." That sure sounds timely ...

"The Bean" is spinning. That's Phil "The Bean" Sisneros who entertained on ABQ area airwaves for several decades and earned quite a following. Today he is following the lead of Attorney General Gary King who has hired Phil as his chief spin doctor. Besides doing PR, Phil can keep Gary and the staff warm by whipping up his famous green chile stew for those frosty City Different mornings...And I am showing my age when I mistakenly refer to the NM Transportation Department as the "Highway Department" as I did the other day? Well, I am not that old, but old enough to know better....

It's the little things that bug you. Take the ABQ Journal's reference to Big Bill's election win Wednesday as 68.7%. The AP's Barry Massey is reporting the official final number is 68.8%. Whose got it right? I have put the father of politico Bruce Donisthorpe---"Daddy Donisthorpe"--on the case up in Farmington, NM. He was crunching numbers back when Steve Pearce had a full head of hair.

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