Thursday, November 06, 2014

Plenty Of Blame For The Democratic Debacle; Let The Finger-pointing Begin; Speaker Martinez Especially Targeted For Historic Loss Of House To Dems 

Who will lead state Democrats out of the wilderness? It's the question on the lips of La Politica in the aftermath of the Dem Election Night debacle that saw them lose control of the state House, give up the largest ever victory margin to a Republican governor candidate, failed to eject the first GOP secretary of state since the Great Depression and apparently suffer the loss of the environmentally sensitive position of land commissioner.

There are plenty to blame for the cause of the catastrophe and we're getting an earful. The hapless gubernatorial candidacy of Gary King who seemed resigned to losing, the disappearance of Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman and the failure of the congressional delegation to ride to the rescue. And that's just for starters. . .

The historic loss of the House to the Republicans is especially painful for the Dems and some of the sharpest of the long knives are being used on House Speaker Kenny Martinez. Here's how one Senior Alligator summed up the calamity of a campaign Martinez presided over:

They spent $2 million on eight House candidates and won only one--Rep. Garcia Richard. The candidates they backed were told who to hire and where to spend all that money for printing, consulting and media ads. It was a money making operation for the Speaker's acolytes. Then they go and spend money on trying to take out (GOP state Rep.) Nate Gentry. Don't you think Rep. Rudy Martinez could have used some of that money? They lost that seat and never saw it coming. That's what you got for your $2 million. Then there's Rep. Phil Archuleta. Any other Speaker would have told Phil his time was up and that he needed to move over for another Democrat candidate. But they left him in there because he was part of the club.

Archuleta fell ill prior to this year's legislative session, had his leg amputated and could not be in Santa Fe for the session. Rep. Rudy Martinez was the victim of a Republican upset--a race that the Speaker and his consultants never saw developing--or did but chose to ignore. . .


Speaker Martinez fell silent in the disarray and chaos of the aftermath of the bloodbath. He issued a news release that seemed to aggravate more than placate. In it he argued:

From increasing the minimum wage, improving education to creating more jobs in our state, our Democratic caucus has never wavered from the core values we represent. I look forward not only to working alongside my fellow House members to ensure that working New Mexicans remain a priority, but also rebuilding our chamber so that responsible governance may prevail.

"It’s now time to roll up our sleeves and continue the fight to better our state."

That line about "rebuilding" is especially troubling for those calling for a clean break with the Martinez regime because it could be signaling that he will seek to become House Minority Leader even though he will go down in history for losing the chamber to the R's for the first time since the early 50's.

Insiders say the Speaker was going ahead with a dinner this week that was originally planned to celebrate the election results. Maybe they should have it at the French Mortuary.

And the statement that the Democratic caucus "never abandoned its core values" bordered on the ludicrous as Martinez's support of a corporate tax cut in exchange for small tax breaks for the entertainment industry is the defining moment of his brief tenure as Speaker.

Failure to secure an increase in the minimum wage while embracing even more tax breaks for the well-off caused the Democratic base to abandon him and his candidates.  When, in the name of compromise, he caved to Governor Martinez, the Democratic Party took ownership of the terrible NM economy. They were in a rowboat without oars, messengers without a message. The rebuke came when thousands of Democrats turned their backs on  this election, contributing to a crash in turnout and a turnabout in the state's political dynamic.

The issue is who, if anyone, will stand up in the Democratic caucus and demand a change in direction and provide the leadership that Democrats thirst for. Or does the leadership escape blameless because in Santa Fe it's all about "being there" but not having to do much?

ABQ Dem State Rep. Mimi Stewart has been mentioned as a possible. However, the firebrand lawmaker may look closer at getting appointed to the soon to be vacant ABQ state Senate seat of Tim Keller who was elected state auditor Tuesday night. After Stewart the bench gets thinner, but ABQ Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton who had a falling out with Speaker Martinez and lost her majority whip position can be heard making noises. One of her supporters rang the bell with this:

She (Stapelton) was truly one of few leaders in the House that was fearless in standing up to the Governor and had real leadership qualities.  Speaker Martinez and his frivolous clan--unable to whip up the votes--cost us the House. We have had no leadership for the past two years. We need an experienced leader with the courage, passion and intelligence to wade through these next two years in order to restore the hope that was lost Tuesday night and to regain the House in the next election. Speaker Martinez needs to be held accountable for his role in this Republican takeover and hopefully he goes away with his tail between his legs along with the cattle that follow him. The Democrats in the House brought themselves down with the mistakes they made and the movidas they knowingly played!

Democrats are mostly female and minorities. Outside players here and in DC say that's where the party needs to look to find its way out of the wilderness. But who?


Sen. Ingle
We don't think ABQ GOP Rep. Gentry takes the speakership, although he could end up as majority leader. Just our best guess. Republican House members are expected to meet over the weekend to begin talking. . .

Rep. Don Tripp seems the safer choice as the front man and symbol of stability and the politically astute Gentry working the game without the spotlight on him. We think this thing will be settled without a public rift. . .

We were surprised by the prediction of State Senator Stu Ingle, the Senate Minority Leader, that right-to-work legislation could pass the Senate with relative ease if approved by the new House GOP majority. Not much of the NM workforce is unionized and this will be a symbolic battle. Ingle knows where the votes are so it appears right-to-work could become reality. (Heads up, Majority Leader Sanchez).

Speaking of Ingle, Dems checking in here express hope that he can keep the Roundhouse from becoming a hothouse in the wake of the GOP House takeover. As America's first president, George Washington, said: "We pour our legislation into the Senatorial saucer to cool it.”

If the NM House raises the temperature too much, it will fall on leader Ingle to cool things off.

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