Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gloves are Off in the NM Gov's Race

McCleskey, Kennicott, Gardner
from the Webber email
I think the campaign for governor officially turned nasty Wednesday when Democrat Alan Webber's campaign released an email fundraising letter calling Gov. Susana Martinez's advisors a "fraternity of misogynistic thugs," bringing up old criminal cases involving Martinez's top political consultant Jay McCleskey from the 1990s.

The email, signed by Webber's campaign Neri Holguin, also took aim at Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner and Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott.

"Let me repeat: this is her inner circle—the people she chooses to surround herself with each and every day, who guide her policy and her communications. And of course, her political spin," Holguin wrote. "She and her band of criminals must be stopped."

Meanwhile, the Martinez campaign called the email "unhinged" and said Webber is "an unapologetic extremist who is better-suited to run a hate-filled blog than serve as the state’s chief executive.”

I'll have the whole story in tomorrow's New Mexican.

The Mark Rudd Endorsement

I suspect that the Alan Webber/Mark Rudd flap will be a one-day story. (HERE is my contribution.)

But in case anyone was wondering what sparked the whole kerfuffle, it was a letter that Rudd sent to friends a couple of weeks ago. I quoted from it in today's story.

The entire text is below:

Rudd then and now
(from )
Dear Friends:  Yesterday Marla held a meet-and-greet at our house for Alan Webber for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  I limited my role in the event to cooking and listening since I'd been skeptical of Alan's chances (as a newcomer and "demographically challenged" outsider) and been looking at the other more conventional politico candidates, Howie Morales in particular because a few good friends have endorsed him.  However, in his talk at our house Alan said something that clicked with me:  that he'd run against not just Susana Martinez, but against the Koch Brothers behind her.  In his own words, he'd "nationalize the race," make it a test-case for stopping the Kochs.  He could raise money, he asserted, from out of state to wage the fight.  

That alone would have been enough, because at last a NM Democrat will be making the difference between himself and Susana crystal clear.  But a further thought popped into my head:  Alan can win the Demo nomination by nationalizing the primary, too.  Since it's a five-person race, it will take only about 35,000 votes to win in June.  (Turnout is abysmal in party primaries, alas: 35,000 in a state of 2 million).  There have got to be 35,000 progressives in New Mexico who already know who the Koch Brothers are and don't like them or their minions, like our governor.  The problem is to motivate these few people to actually vote in the primary.  

Alan Webber is a strange duck for me to be supporting:  for 10 years he edited the Harvard Business Review (!!!??), then, based in Portland, he founded an innovative entrepreneur's magazine, Fast Company, which he sold for a gazillion dollars: he and his wife, Frances, moved to Santa Fe 11 years ago.  Along with this shady part of his past--which may actually be quite useful to defining a new path to economic development for the state--Alan seems to be a compassionate and open and respectful person who genuinely wants to listen and learn from the people of New Mexico, then figure out how to help.  Yesterday he talked, among other issues, of ending child hunger in the state, reforming education by eliminating high stakes testing, using his knowledge of business to create jobs in renewable energy development and 21st century tourism (something about apps), preserving the cultural heritage and the environment of the state.  He's outstanding on his understanding of the dangers to the environment, including global warming.  Oh, yes, he's not afraid to say he's for regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana, based on studying Colorado's experiment.  

One of the first things that impressed me about Alan is that he knew precisely whom to hire to run his campaign-- the absolute very best young people from within the state, starting with Neri Holguin as campaign manager, Leanne Leith (formerly of CVNM) as political director, and Ariel Bickel as field director.  He's also engaged the services of a national voter identification consultant, Hallie Montoya Tansey, who is from Albuquerque.  This is no small matter.  I can't tell you the number of otherwise decent candidates I've seen who have hired clueless out-of-state bozos to manage them, with terrible results.  You may want to check out Alan's social media presence, which his young and smart staff has created.'s the pitch:  please don't sit this one out.  This is our only chance to get rid of our disastrous Tea Party governor who guts human services, allows the destruction of our environment, blames the poor, incarcerates as many people as possible.  A good Koch Bros. ideological conservative, Susana Martinez doesn't believe in such a thing as the common good.  Alan is rational:  he knows that we're all in this together.

Help elect a pro-jobs, pro-environment progressive Democrat as Governor.  Check out Alan Webber's website at  Make sure you're a registered Democrat, for God's sake, so you can help where it counts, which isJune 3, only seven weeks away.  Tell all your friends:  by voting for Alan Webber for the Demo nomination for Governor, we can kick the Koch Bros. out of Santa Fe!

It's only going to take 35,000 people to win in June.  This counts.  Please get mobilized.


June 3.  35,000.  Koch no mas.

Martinez's Latest Ad Features Dem Mayors

In her latest TV commercial, Gov. Susana Martinez takes a page from the old Pete Domenici playbook and has a couple of Democratic mayors speaking out for her.

No, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales isn't one of them.

There's Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz who says, "It's very reassuring that we have a governor who cares for all the people of New Mexico," and former Taos Mayor Darren Cordova, who says, "She's one of us, especially in time of need."

It doesn't take a political genius to figure out that this is a direct appeal to Hispanic voters, especially those in Northern New Mexico. Martinez didn't win a majority of northern Hispanics in 2010, but she won a big enough share to help put her over the top in a state where Democrats have a big edge in voter registration.

Also notable is the difference in tone between Martinez's TV ads (so far) and what she's saying in fund-raising appeals and even in statements to the media. Her TV spots are all positive and, in the case of this one, bipartisanship. (Her first ad was a soft biographical spot). Neither one even mentioned any of the five Dems running against her.

But away from the television ads, Team Susana hasn't shied away from talk about "union thugs" and describing opponents in terms like "far left fringe candidate" etc.

I guess she's talking to two difference audiences. With the TV ads she's trying to persuade casual viewers, mainly Democrats and independents to come over. People who are reading newspaper stories -- or blog posts -- about politics at this point tend to be those who are deeper into the nitty gritty of politics and aren't put off by tough talk. (And those who are likely to make campaign donations, especially at this point, tend to be partisans who appreciate the red meat.)

While Democrats Alan Webber and Lawrence Rael have run radio ads, none of the Dems have advertised on television yet. One frustrated Democrat I was talking to yesterday said she'd give money to the first of the five to go on TV.

(And, full disclosure: By mid October I will not even turn on my TV set because I'll be so sick of all the campaign ads.)

Here's Martinez's ad:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rael Has New Radio Ad

Lawrence Rael
Lawrence Rael became the second Democratic candidate for governor to hit the radio airwaves.

Unlike his primary rival Alan Webber, Rael's ad doesn't directly attack -- in fact doesn't even mention--  the Republican incumbent, Susana Martinez. It just talks about the bad economy in the state and says Rael will make it better.

Here's the script:

Announcer: In the last year alone, New Mexico lost over

Rael: We need good jobs that don’t force our young people to have to choose between staying in New Mexico and their future.

 Announcer: Lawrence Rael has spent 35-years creating jobs and growing our state’s economy.  
Rael:  When we invest in ourselves, we determine our own future. As governor I will lead efforts to diversify our economy, train tomorrow’s workforce today, and make New Mexico a state we are proud to call home.

Announcer: Lawrence Rael.  Democrat for Governor.  Paid for by Rael for New Mexico.  

It's almost certain Republicans will question the line about Rael spending 35 years "creating jobs and growing our state's economy." Rael has spent virtually all of his career in government.

The 3,700 lost jobs figure comes from recent Workforce Solutions reports.

Rael campaign spokesman Kyle Armstrong said the spot will run on radio stations all over the state beginning today or tomorrow. There is a Spanish version as well as the one in English.

Listen to the ad below.


ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Involuntary Transparency

‘‘Gov. Susana Martinez has ushered in a whole new level of openness, and this administration is the most transparent in New Mexico history.”

That’s the basic mantra of the governor’s spokesmen whenever a reporter asks to comment about situations in which one might think the administration isn’t being very open — such as when some news organization is suing Martinez for withholding public records or when the governor’s lawyers argue that a court enforcing public records laws would be unconstitutional.

But last week I decided that indeed, this administration is the most transparent in New Mexico history — though not in the way Martinez and company intended that statement to read. Thanks to a series of leaks going back a couple of years, New Mexicans have been able to see and hear way more behind-the-scenes glimpses than the administration ever intended.

For the rest of this column see The New Mexican's site: 

Also, you should read Rob Nikolewski's column for a different aspect on the same subject HERE

Friday, April 18, 2014

Webber Becomes 1st Dem to Use Mother Jones Recordings in Ad

Alan Webber
Democrat Alan Webber became the first candidate for governor to use one of the recordings of Republican Susana Martinez released in that Mother Jones article this week.

The recording used in the 60-second radio spot is the one in which Martinez was talking about teachers not working during the summer months. (All the audio released with the article reportedly come from private conversations taped during debate prep in the fall of 2010.)

This is contrasted to a portion of an interview by New Mexico Watchdog with Martinez in 2013.

Here's the script of the ad:

Announcer: Here’s what Governor Martinez says on the campaign trail.
Martinez: “I am so pro-teacher it’s not even funny.” 
Announcer: But in newly released audio recordings…a different story.
Martinez: “During the campaign we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education…They already don't work, you know, two and a half months out of the year, three months out of the year.” 
Announcer: In public, Susana Martinez pays our teachers lip service. But when she thinks no one’s listening…she slams them.
That’s what’s not even funny.
And neither is her plan for New Mexico…
Tax breaks for big, out-of-state corporations.
While middle class families fall further behind.
Alan Webber has a different approach.
End tax breaks for out-of-state corporations
Raise the minimum wage…to lift everyone’s pay.
Invest in early childhood education.
And support our teachers.
…not insult them. 
It’s time we respect New Mexicans. Vote June 3 for Alan Webber for Governor. 
Paid for and authorized by Alan Webber for New Mexico, Maria J. Franco, Treasurer—and saying what every New Mexico Democrat believes.

A couple of things to note: Although Martinez and her advisors in 2010 apparently were talking about the possibility of having to cut teacher salaries in that upcoming legislative session, no such salary cuts ever came to be. In the most recent legislative session, Martinez proposed raises for beginning teachers and later signed a budget that included teacher raises.

As for the tax breaks for corporations, that was part of a major tax bill in 2013 that was pushed for and voted for by many Democrats in the Legislature.

Listen to the ad below:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawrence Rael and the Sex Offender Contributor

Yesterday in the heat of the reaction to the Mother Jones article on Gov. Susana Martinez, two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Paul Pacheco and Monica Youngblood, both from Albuquerque, issued an indignant press release.

"How could Mother Jones be so concerned about Martinez cussing when the Democrats are so much worse?" was the gist of their message. As an example, the legislators said, Lawrence Rael accepted a campaign contribution from a sex offender. Not only a sex offender, but a "pro-sex offender activist."

The contribution in question was $25 -- no, I'm not forgetting any zeroes -- from someone in Albuquerque named Larry Neely.

There is a New Mexico resident named Larry Neely who is part of the group Reform Sex Offender Laws Inc. and he is quoted in the  New York Times story that is linked to in the press release from Pacheco and Youngblood.

 However, there are several people named Larry Neely listed in Albuquerque, so I can't say for certain the guy who gave the $25 to Rael is the same one. (I also checked the state sex offender registration but couldn't find a Larry, Lawrence or Laurence Neely.)

But whether or not the contributor is the same Larry Neely, a spokesman for the Rael campaign said Rael would be donating the $25 to the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, which helps crime victims.

The campaign received money from more than 500 donors during the last reporting period Kyle Armstrong said. "Lawrence would not knowingly take money from a convicted sex offender," he said. (Shockingly, the campaign does not perform criminal background checks on contributors.)

Heads up Maggie Oliver and Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund: The same contributor gave you $10 and $25 respectively.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carmen Lujan Reacts to "Retard" Comment

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, his mother
Carmen Lujan and late father Ben Lujan
There has been a lot of political back and forth today over the Mother Jones story about Gov. Susana Martinez. Most of it's predictable -- cries of shock and outrage from shocked-and-outraged Dems and charges of hypocrisy by Republicans who say the Dems are worse.

But down on the human level, I just received this email from Carmen Lujan, the widow of the late House Speaker Ben Lujan. She was upset about one particular portion of the article -- the part in which a Martinez campaign aide talks about her husband, saying “Somebody told me he’s absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard.”

Mrs. Lujan wrote:

"When I read and heard the audio from Gov. Martinez's staff this morning it crushed my heart. I called my family in tears and felt sick to my stomach. 

Why would someone be so cruel and disrespectful? Ben committed his life to helping people, even while fighting cancer - people always came first. He had an incredible mind and heart. This makes me so sad. 

He was a life long champion of working people, he used his voice and his words to make a difference. 

But these cruel words by Matt [Kennicott], are not just about Ben, they hurt and attack the people of our State. Anyone who speaks with an accent, anyone who speaks Spanglish and uses both English and Spanish to communicate was attacked by the governor's staff. 

It was not easy to speak up and put this together, but someone has to.

UPDATE 5:22 pm Matt Kennicott issued a statement.

In this private conversation four years ago, I was repeating a direct quote of what someone else had said and I apologize if that offended or hurt anyone. I was relaying this to someone in private and obviously would not have used this language otherwise, as I knew full-well that the governor's sister is developmentally-disabled.

Mother Jones Scorches Gov. Susana

From the Mother Jones article

Mother Jones magazine this morning published a scathing profile of Gov. Susana Martinez that will have the political world here buzzing for days.

Much of it is rehash of stuff New Mexicans already know, including things covered in National Journal's piece on Martinez political advisor Jay McCleskey last year.

But the article uses several behind-the-scenes audio tapes that are not very flattering. The Martinez camp doesn't dispute the authenticity but says the tapes were "stolen."

Clips from the recordings are embedded in the article.

Among the controversial moments on those recordings:

*Matt Kennicott, then a campaign aide talking about former House speaker Ben Luj├ín, telling Martinez  "Somebody told me he's absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard."

* During the 2010 campaign, when some thought that cutting teachers' salaries might be inevitable because of the budget crisis, Martinez said in a taped conversation, "During the campaign, we can't say it, I guess, because it's education, but…they already don't work, you know, two and a half months out of the year."

* Talking about how the administration could respond to criticism if Martinez cut teachers' salaries after promising not to, political advisor Jay McCleskey suggested the campaign could post "a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain. And when you win, we say, 'See we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'" To which Kennicott responded: "It's on YouTube. C'mon, bitches." [This all is moot of course because teachers' salaries didn't get cut.]

* Discussing the state's Commission on the Status of Women, of which Martinez asks: "What the hell is that? What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?"

* Calling her gubernatorial opponent and former Lt. Gov Diane Denish "that little bitch."

Well, if anyone's really shocked by that last one -- a politician calling an opponent a nasty name, I'll provide Kleenex later.

In fact, in a fundraising letter, sent just this morning, Martinez said, "Their `smoking gun'? I referred to Diane Denish using the B-word four years ago in a private conversation with close advisers. I admit it — I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life."

If her Chief of Staff Keith Gardner had a "cuss jar" we  would never have to worry about balancing the budget again. (Sorry Keith.)

In the rest of the letter, Martinez said:

"We’ve come a long way since the days of Bill Richardson, but now liberals in Washington want to undo the progress we’ve made. In the absolute height of desperation, one of the most radically liberal publications in the country is now peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago. ...

"But this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico. This tabloid is using material from the same people who are under federal indictment and investigation for stealing my personal emails. The same liberals who decry the `War on Women' are more than happy to promote the same line of attack as those who stole my personal underwear order."

That's a slap at The Santa Fe Reporter, who did once report that Martinez received an email receipt from Spanx.

The first Democratic candidate to respond was Lawrence Rael, who said:

"These audio clips reveal a side of Gov. Martinez and her aides that is offensive on so many levels.  Not to mention that she would have to work with Speaker Lujan when she was elected. That she didn’t reprimand Matt Kennicott is inexcusable. But that she then rewarded him with a job as the spokesperson for the Human Services Department (HSD) and a salary of $73,000 is unconscionable. HSD, in fact, oversees several programs that administer mental health services for over 85,000 New Mexicans."

I'm betting there will be much more discussion on this in the near future.

UPDATE 6:24 pm The original version of this mistakenly said last year's Jay McCleskey profile was in The National Review. Actually it was National Journal. It's been corrected in the text. (Thanks, reader Chuck.)

Here's the audio:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Duran's Report Fixed

In today's paper in my story about campaign finance reports, I noted some odd entries on Secretary of State Dianna Duran's report.

Most of Duran’s biggest contributors weren’t identified. There was an unnamed political action committee from Artesia, which gave $7,500; entities identified only as “Roofing Industry” and “Automobile Industry,” each of which contributed $5,000 ...

However, since I downloaded her initial report, Duran's campaign filed an amended version, which gives the names of those donors.

The mystery PAC from Artesia that gave $7,500 actually was the Mack Energy Corporation. The "Roofing Industry" turned out to be just one company, G&G Roofing in Hobbs, which gave $5,000. Likewise, the "Automobile Industry" is Car of New Mexico in Albuquerque (also giving $5,000.)

I haven't asked yet but I suspect the initial omissions were merely oversights or computer glitches.