Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boys Gone Wild: Sexist Hijinks From GOP Director Makes For Latest Installment In Series, Plus: Guv Does Damage Control Over High-Dollar Taos Event, And: More Blog Gun Control Debate 

Steve Kush
First there was Governor Martinez's Chief of Staff Keith Gardner calling a state senate leader a cocksucker, then there was Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston calling some of his office staff "a couple of whores." That was followed by offensive comments from NM GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers toward Native Americans, gays and Hispanics. Now, in our latest installment of "Boys Gone Wild" we have Steve Kush, the executive director of the Bernalillo County Republican Party, calling a young woman advocating an increase in the minimum wage a "radical bitch" and another R joining in by joking that another wage supporter may be a streetwalker.

This episode, as the others before it, went viral across the Net when an apparently frustrated Kush took to his Facebook and Twitter pages as he watched the Bernalillo County commission meeting Tuesday night. They were debating a dollar-an-hour hike in the county minimum wage that he was against. He unloaded on Chelsey Evans with the labor movement group "Working America" as she addressed the commission. He called her a "radical bitch," but praised her boots.

Later, former Bernalillo County GOP executive director Bob Cornelius joked with Kush on Facebook about the footwear. "Maybe she uses those boots to walk Central...even in this economy she can exchange bumper cables for boots."

Cornelius quickly issued an apology, saying his behavior was obviously inappropriate, but Kush spent the better part of Wednesday bunkered. Near the end of the business day he and the party issued an apology and GOP County Chairman Roger Ruvolo said Kush would be indefinitely suspended without pay.

That sounds stem but what does it take for a wayward New Mexico Republican politico to lose their job--a murder rap? Gardner remains Martinez's chief of staff, Rogers is still GOP committeeman, and, who knows, maybe Houston runs for sheriff again and Kush handles the campaign?

Doesn't anyone take the honorable way out and resign anymore?

There are several layers of irony in all of this. First, it is evident that it is not Ms. Evans who is the "radical" for supporting an increase in the minimum wage--a measure that won the approval of 66% of ABQ voters last November--but it is a large segment of the GOP that is increasingly radical and marginalized.

Then there is the supreme irony--(or hypocrisy?)--of Republican Susana Martinez--the nation's first Hispanic female Governor presiding over this gaggle of angry white men. She's done little to rein in their rage, signaling a "boys will be boys" philosophy from Ozzie and Harriet.

The radicalized membership of the Republican Party--here and nationally--are freaked out by the nation's move to the center and center-left and take to Facebook, Twitter and email to vent. They don't seem to recognize that these are the public chalkboards of this age.

Theirs is not a "war on women." It's a war against the world as presently constructed.

Governor Martinez tolerates this anachronistic gang and lets them roam about this very public playground unsupervised, but she is much more vigilant of her own standing. She will have nothing to do with the social agenda of the radical Republicans. It is dead and buried in Santa Fe as is most of the audience Kush et. al. are playing to. That minimum wage increase was passed by the county commission Tuesday and as the news of Kush's derogatory comments raced across the Web, the Santa Fe City Council approved a measure supporting gay marriage.


Was Governor Martinez tone deaf when she gave the go ahead to a $10,000 a pop fund-raiser at a luxury resort in economically struggling Taos County? She apparently thinks so.

Ahead of that weekend getaway for well-heeled supporters that was leaked to this blog and then spread across the state, Martinez has decided to meet with the common folk in an effort to shape perceptions:

Gov. Martinez and Taos Mayor Darren Córdova are accepting reservations to meet face-to-face with Taos-area residents to hear their thoughts and concerns next week. The “Constituent Day” will take place Friday (April 26) from 2 to 4 p.m. A location has not yet been announced. The event will immediately precede a private event at El Monte Sagrado organized by Martinez’ reelection campaign.

The miscue here was that Martinez apparently thought she could keep under wraps her big-dollar confab. She would look a lot better if she had set up the constituent meeting at the same time they were selecting the caviar for the high rollers.


It's no secret that the Governor is currently well-positioned for re-election next year. She sports an approval rating north of 60 percent, the Democratic-controlled Legislature caved in to her on a key tax bill and Time magazine recently named her to their global list of influential figures, But there is a long way to go, cautions reader Joe Barela of Rio Rancho. He says the opposition should not be waving any white flags of surrender:

While it appears that the current field of possible Democratic governor candidates may not possess the right mix of skills, credentials, name recognition, money and tenacity to go after Governor Martinez to win, let's not throw in the towel just yet. This is New Mexico politics after all and the Governor has yet to be called out, exposed and asked the tough questions. Let's not also forget timing is everything.

We need to remember that the reason Susana Martinez won in the first place is that she was really running against Gov. Bill Richardson not Democratic nominee Diane Denish. She had plenty of "red meat" to feed to the voters and her handlers used it effectively. Shame on the weak NM Democratic party leadership for not recognizing this early on and dealing with it. It was frustrating to watch it all unfold.

Attorney General Gary King and ABQ State Sen. Linda Lopez are the two announced Dem candidates in the '14 Guv hunt.


An interesting debate on the blog this week on exactly how a controversial bill that would have required more extensive background checks for gun sales died in the recent session of the Legislature. Steve Aikens of Clovis, a concealed handgun instructor, was in Santa Fe monitoring the action.  He responds to the analysis of Miranda Viscoli of New Mexicans for Gun Safety who gave her views on the Tuesday blog:

Joe, I attended the two Senate Public Affairs Committee meetings on HB 77. Ms, Viscoli is either mis-remembering or mischaracterizing what happened with the bill.

At the Tuesday Senate Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) hearing (ABQ Dem) Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto offered amendments to prohibit firearms registration and to clarify that if any similar federal legislation passed it would preempt New Mexico law governing firearms sales at gun shows. Had the House sponsor--ABQ Dem State Rep. Miguel Garcia accepted those proposed changes, the bill would have received a do-pass that first evening. Rep Garcia’s decision not to accept them is what caused the bill to be temporarily tabled. That was a strategy decision on the part of Rep. Garcia’s and the bill’s advocates.

Ms. Viscoli's conclusion that the resulting two-day delay in the Senate Public Affairs Committee--which occurred with 10 days remaining in session--caused the demise of their flawed gun control bill is incredibly naive. After all, this is the same Legislature that managed to pass a major tax overhaul bill in the last two-hours of the session.

It also bears noting that Second Amendment rights advocates such as myself and the NRA continued to oppose HB 77, even with the addition of the amendments in SPAC.


And now a response to former Dem Secretary of State Mary Herrera who took to the blog Wednesday to note that Attorney General King announced that after a near three year investigation she will not face any criminal charges. The response comes from Denise Lamb, a longtime and now retired state elections administrator:

Joe,  I was interested in Mary Herrera's comments regarding her election loss being due to the whistle blower employees in her office. Even a slight review of the media coverage during her tenure would show that there were numerous problems in administration of that office, which were covered extensively.

--There was the merry-go-round of election directors, two of whom wrote scathing letters upon their departure, and extended periods of time where there was no election director, which is a statutorily required position in the office. 

--The debacle of the NM Blue Book that was out-of-date the day it was published and contained so much self-aggrandizing of Ms. Herrera and her deputy Don Francisco as to be an embarrassment to state.

--The failure to comply with federal law in the removal of voters under the list maintenance procedures of the National Voter Registration Act. The result of which is a still-bloated voter file with the Department of Justice ruling that it cannot be cleaned up until 2015.

--Lawsuits from advocacy groups citing the failure of the SOS to carry out other provisions of the Voting Rights Act and provide federally mandated voter registration at state motor vehicle offices and human services offices.

--I think these publicized lapses (and more), coupled with the failure of the state's five major newspapers to endorse Ms. Herrera, were reason enough to result in her defeat by the Republican candidate by a 16 point margin.

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